UNSC session on Kashmir a huge development: Qureshi

Sikhs for Justice protest near the UN headquarters on Aug. 15, India’s Independence Day, highlighting the human rights abuses of Sikhs in Punjab. (AFP)
Updated 17 August 2019

UNSC session on Kashmir a huge development: Qureshi

  • Meeting nullifies Indian claim that Kashmir is its internal matter: Pakistan FM

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has described the UN Security Council (UNSC) session on Kashmir as a “huge diplomatic development.” Qureshi said that it was the first time in more than 50 years that the council took up the issue and focused on the disputed region.
“It nullifies New Delhi’s claim that Kashmir is India’s internal issue and amplifies Islamabad’s viewpoint that this is an internationally recognized dispute since there are 11 Security Council resolutions on the subject,” he told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
“India’s claim has gone out of the window: The fact that the Security Council is taking up the Kashmir issue for the first time after the 1965 war makes it a huge diplomatic development. It also internationalizes the Kashmir issue once again,” he said.
The foreign minister said that his country expected UNSC member states to play their role to ensure peace and security in the region and avert a humanitarian disaster in Indian-administered Kashmir.
“We expect different departments of the (UN) secretariat to make presentations and brief security council members (on the situation). We hope that the latest report of (the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan) is discussed. We expect that the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s reports, which were made public in June 2018 and in July 2019, are also to be discussed,” Qureshi said.
The UNSC held a special session in New York on Friday to discuss the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir. Earlier, China echoed Pakistan’s demand for a UNSC meeting, asking for the world body to gather “behind closed doors.”
Qureshi said that Pakistan and India would not be included in the UNSC meeting. “In a closed-door meeting, only 15 members of the Security Council participate and no outsiders are invited,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Shah Mahmood Qureshi likens the revocation of Article 35 A to Kashmiri ‘genocide’ since it seeks to forcibly ‘turn a majority into minority.’

The foreign minister said that this was the first step, adding that the situation in Kashmir was evolving and could lead to an open debate as well. “If there is an open debate, Pakistan and India will also be invited,” he said. “At this stage, it was felt that their participation would only lead to confrontation and disturb the environment of the Security Council. So, (the UN authorities) wanted in their wisdom to dispassionately look at the situation which, everyone agrees, is quite grave.”
Qureshi said that the UNSC meeting was the result of his letter written to the UNSC president on Aug. 13.
“Today is the 12th day of the curfew,” he said. “There is a total media gag, communications blackout, internet services have been suspended, journalists are not allowed to perform their job, civil society activists are not allowed to go to Jammu and Kashmir.”
The Pakistani foreign minister said that Kashmiris across the political spectrum had rejected India’s unilateral revocation of Article 370.
“Kashmiri politicians, who previously operated within India’s political system, also called the step a betrayal. Everybody has rejected it,” he said.
“Kashmir has been forcefully annexed,” Qureshi said. “India is an occupying force in Jammu and Kashmir.” He said when New Delhi lifted the curfew, people would naturally express their anger at its decision to change Kashmir’s status earlier this month.
“That reaction will be met by suppression and that suppression will lead to a bloodbath. The removal of Article 35-A is an attempt to bring about a demographic change (in the region). This in itself is a form of genocide, where a state is forcibly trying to turn a majority into a minority.”
Qureshi said that a constant consultation was going on in his ministry to examine all possible options. Later in the day, he held a lengthy meeting with leading experts on Kashmir.
The foreign minister also said that he would chair a meeting of a special committee constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan tomorrow to take a closer look at the situation.
“All civil and military stakeholders will be present (at the meeting) and we will assess and discuss the situation. We will also decide what next steps to take in the coming days,” he said.


India arrests senior Kashmir leader under controversial law

Updated 16 min 2 sec ago

India arrests senior Kashmir leader under controversial law

  • Farooq Abdullah, 81, who also was the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested at his residence in Srinagar
  • ‘We have arrested him, and a committee will decide how long the arrest will be’
NEW DELHI: A Parliament member who is a senior pro-India politician in Indian-controlled Kashmir was arrested Monday under a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial.
Farooq Abdullah, 81, who also was the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested at his residence in Srinagar, the summer capital and main city of the disputed Himalayan region.
“We have arrested him, and a committee will decide how long the arrest will be,” said Muneer Khan, a top police official.
Abdullah is the first pro-India politician who has been arrested under the Public Safety Act, under which rights activists say more than 20,000 Kashmiris have been detained in the last two decades.
Amnesty International has called the PSA a “lawless law,” and rights groups say India has used the law to stifle dissent and circumvent the criminal justice system, undermining accountability, transparency, and respect for human rights.
The PSA came into effect in 1978, under the government of Abdullah’s father, who himself was a highly popular Kashmir leader.
The law, in its early days, was supposedly meant to target timber smugglers in Kashmir. After an armed rebellion started in the region in 1989, the law was used against rebels and anti-India protesters.
Abdullah’s residence was declared a subsidiary jail and he was put under house arrest on Aug. 5 when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government in New Delhi stripped Jammu and Kashmir of semi-autonomy and statehood, creating two federal territories.
Thousands of additional Indian troops were sent to the Kashmir Valley, already one of the world’s most militarized regions. Telephone communications, cellphone coverage, broadband Internet and cable TV services were cut for the valley’s 7 million people, although some communications have been gradually restored.
On Aug. 6, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah denied to the lower house of Parliament that Abdullah had been detained or arrested.
“If he (Abdullah) does not want to come out of his house, he cannot be brought out at gunpoint,” Shah said, when other parliamentarians expressed concern over Abdullah’s absence during the debate on Kashmir’s status.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court sought a response from the central government and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea seeking to produce Abdullah before the court.
Many anti-India protesters as well as pro-India Kashmiri leaders have been held in jails and other makeshift facilities to contain protests against India’s decisions, according to police officials.
Kashmir’s special status was instituted shortly after India achieved independence from Britain in 1947. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in its entirety, but each control only part of it.
India has often tried to suppress uprisings in the region, including a bloody armed rebellion in 1989. About 70,000 people have been killed since that uprising and a subsequent Indian military crackdown.