Pakistan wants UN team to visit both AJK, held Kashmir

Published June 22, 2018
SRINAGAR: A boy rides a bicycle in a deserted street here on Thursday during a strike called against the killing of civilians in the India-held region, including that of veteran journalist Shujaat Bokhari.—AFP
SRINAGAR: A boy rides a bicycle in a deserted street here on Thursday during a strike called against the killing of civilians in the India-held region, including that of veteran journalist Shujaat Bokhari.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday expressed its willingness to receive the United Nations’ Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), but impliedly again conditioned it with New Delhi also agreeing to the commission’s visit to India-held Kashmir.

Pakistan was ready for a commission of inquiry to visit both AJK and held Kashmir, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said at the weekly media briefing apparently linking the acceptance of the commission to its visits to both parts of Kashmir.

Mr Faisal exhorted India to accept the commission.

Take a look: Pakistan's comments on wanting peace will be taken seriously, says Indian defence minister

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had called for setting up of a Commission of Inquiry, the UN’s highest-level probe, to investigate human rights violations in Kashmir.

The call followed the first report on Kashmir by the Office of the High Comm­i­ssioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The report that pointed to impunity for rights abuses and lack of access to justice in India-held Kashmir; and certain administrative, constitutional and legislative issues related to Azad Kashmir, was welcomed by Pakistan, but rejected by India.

The report had mentioned that neither India nor Pakistan allowed unconditional access to territories under their control for investigations for preparation of the document.

The findings were then based on “remote monitoring of the situation” in the two parts of Kashmir. India had refused to allow the UN visit, while Pakistan linked its permission to India allowing the UN team to tour held Kashmir.

The spokesman challenged India to allow the UN team to access the occupied valley. “India can address its claims of the (OHCHR) report being based on unverified information by allowing the COI and OIC Independent Permanent Hum­an Rights Commission access to held Kashmir.”

Mr Faisal further said: “The isolation of India in the international community is complete. The skeletons in Indian closet are growing in numbers and size.” The spokesman further asked the Indian government to hold an independent, transparent and credible probe into the assassination of Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bokhari.

Mr Bokhari was assassinated by unidentified gunmen while leaving his office on June 14.

He said that Mr Bokhari’s murder was manifestation of Indian state terrorism and reflection of intolerance of Indian state apparatus which wants to stifle freedom of speech and expression.

“The Indian government remains fearful of international exposition of the brutalisation of occupied Jammu & Kashmir. India can run, but can it hide? This remains to be seen,” he added.

The spokesman praised slain Bokhari as a vocal voice, who consistently spoke out against human rights abuses in held Kashmir and strongly advocated the need for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

Mr Faisal also expressed concern over imposition of the governor rule in India-held Kashmir.

The valley was put under the governor rule on Wednesday after PDP-BJP coalition government collapsed as the two allies decided to part ways.

The spokesman said that the ongoing bloodshed in held Kashmir along with Indian statements about the crackdown in the valley shows an alarming Indian imperviousness to international opinion.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2018

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