Indian govt changing Kashmir's demographic: foreign secretary
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry on Wednesday accused the Indian government of deliberately altering the demographic makeup of Jammu and Kashmir by settling non-state citizens in Indian-held Kashmir and turning its Muslim majority into a minority by dividing the population on ethnic, religious and communal lines.
"No elections in Indian-held Kashmir could be a substitute to the plebiscite under the auspices of the UN," Chaudhry told ambassadors posted to Pakistan of countries in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Briefing the envoys on the eve of Kashmir Day, the foreign secretary referred to the actions taken by Indian security forces to suppress the indigenous Kashmiri movement against Indian rule. He also quoted staggering figures of Kashmiris killed, women widowed and raped and children orphaned in human rights violations in the region.
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He stressed that peace in the region would remain elusive without the resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN resolutions that call for a free and fair election to determine the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The foreign secretary emphasised that OIC as a body of 57 countries with the world’s one-fifth population and Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) with many trillion dollars could influence India to fulfill its obligations under UN resolutions, de-militarise Indian-held Kashmir and refrain from committing human rights violations.
Noting the points made by the foreign secretary, the OIC ambassadors participated in the discussion focusing on the Kashmir issue, Pakistan-India relations and other developments in the region.
The divided, mostly Muslim Himalayan region of Kashmir is at the heart of hostility between the neighbours and was the cause of two of their three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.
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On Jan 5, 1949, the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan’s resolution stated that the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan would be decided through a free and impartial plebiscite. But the Indian government has been opposed to a referendum, excusing itself by saying that the irregularities in Kashmir must be eradicated before carrying out any referendum.