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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Saturday welcomed the United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres’ support to the OHCHR’s (Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights) report on aggravating human rights situation in India-held Kashmir.

“Indian allegations about the OHCHR report on Kashmir have been effectively responded to by the UNSG support to the OHCHR,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal tweeted.

It should be recalled that the secretary general had on Thursday voiced his support to the Kashmir report. “As you can imagine, all action of the Human Rights High Commissioner is an action that represents the voice of the UN in relation to that issue,” Mr Guterres said while responding to a journalist about his position on the report that has been discredited by India.

The first-ever United Nations report on the human rights situation in Kashmir was launched last month. It had pointed to impunity for rights abuses and lack of access to justice in India-held Kashmir. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had, after launching the report, asked the Human Rights Council to consider establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into human rights violations in held-Kashmir.

Pakistan had welcomed the report and the recommendation for the establishment of the ‘Commission of Inquiry’ — the highest level probe under the UN system. India had, however, rejected it and said that the high commissioner lacked the mandate to commission such a report.

India, meanwhile, contends that the high commissioner’s call for an international probe is no more valid because it failed to get support in the Human Rights Council. They have also objected to Mr Guterres’ remarks and reiterated their rejection of the report.

India’s ministry of external affairs had again said that the UN’s Kashmir report was ‘baseless’ and ‘fallacious’. It added that the OHCHR recommendation for an independent probe in Kashmir found no support in Human Rights Council except for Pakistan.

The UN secretary general, besides supporting the report, re-emphasised that there could only be a political solution to the Kashmir problem.

“It is clear for me that only political solutions can address political problems. Whenever I meet the leaders of both India and Pakistan, I always offer my good offices, and I hope that the future will be able to create the mechanisms of dialogue that will allow for this problem to find also an adequate political solution that the people can benefit from,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2018