ISLAMABAD: As military forces continue a relentless campaign of oppression in India-held Kashmir, Pakistan expressed its desire to help the victims of state-aggression in the restive valley.

In a statement on Saturday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called upon the international community to call on India to allow Pakistan to arrange for the medical treatment of Kashmiris who had been injured or maimed during the ongoing violence in the region.

PM Sharif said Pakistan wants to provide medical treatment to the injured, particularly those who had been hit by the deadly pellet guns being used by security forces in the area.

The prime minister said Pakistan wanted to get the best possible medical facilities available anywhere in the world for the Kashmiri people, on an immediate basis.

The statement comes just days after a war of words erupted between the Indian home minister and his Pakistani counterpart over Kashmir, prompting the Indian minister to leave a Saarc summit in Islamabad halfway through.

“The magnitude of the humanitarian crisis in India-held Kashmir has compelled us to immediately pool our material and human resources for the victims’ [treatment],” the prime minister was quoted as saying.

“Even more gruesome is that healthcare providers in India-held Kashmir have not been allowed to treat victims properly. Indian security forces have also been targeting hospitals and ambulances providing healthcare to the peaceful and defenceless protesters,” he noted.

“Being blinded has severe consequences for the victims and their families; some victims of the pellet guns may never see light again. Still, they are resolute; they are guided by the light of freedom for the realisation of their right to self-determination. The world should realize this. Pakistan will continue to support them morally, politically and diplomatically,” PM Sharif maintained.

According to the statement, the prime minister has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to mobilise support from the international community, humanitarian organisations and civil society through Pakistani missions abroad to exert pressure on India to allow the government of Pakistan to arrange for the treatment of victims of state-violence in India-held Kashmir on humanitarian grounds. The government will provide for the boarding, lodging and medical expenses of the victims, he said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry apprised his Iranian counterpart of the latest situation in India-held Kashmir. According to an FO statement, Mr Chaudhry met with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Pacific Mr. Ebrahim Rahimpour in Tehran as part of bilateral consultations on Saturday.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2016