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'Kashmiris must be allowed to decide their future': PM condemns Indian violence against civilians

Updated December 16, 2018

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Prime Minister Imran Khan says Pakistan will raise the issue of India's human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. — File
Prime Minister Imran Khan says Pakistan will raise the issue of India's human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. — File

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday sharply condemned the killings of innocent civilians at the hands of Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir's Pulwama area.

"We will raise [the] issue of India's human rights violations in IOK & demand UNSC [UN Security Council] fulfil its J&K plebiscite commitment," the premier said in a tweet.

"Kashmiris must be allowed to decide their future," Khan said, stressing that the Kashmir conflict could only be resolved through dialogue and "not violence & killings".

The prime minister's statement came a day after at least seven civilians were killed and over three dozen injured when Indian forces fired at protesters in occupied Kashmir. Residents had accused troops of directly spraying gunfire into the crowds.

Differentiate between 'Kashmir issue and killing spree': Qureshi

Earlier in the evening, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called on global human rights organisations to take notice of the atrocities by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir, saying he was hopeful that the groups would raise their voice against state terrorism.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addresses a press conference on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addresses a press conference on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV

While speaking at a press conference alongside Dr Mohammad Faisal, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qureshi recalled the victims of attacks by Indian occupation forces — including those who have lost their lives and those who have suffered injuries because of pellet guns.

Addressing the United Nations and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), Qureshi said on Sunday: "I am not talking about the [Kashmir] issue; I am talking about humanity."

"Even if you have some difficulty raising your voice about the Kashmir issue, there shouldn't be any hesitance raising your voice against the brutality towards humans."

According to Qureshi, the use of force by India intensified after the death of Burhan Wani in 2016.

In 2018, Qureshi said it had reached a "strange limit" and so far, close to 500 casualties had been registered with a few days still remaining in the year.

Qureshi told the media that prior to his press conference, he had written letters to the UN secretary general, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights — who had also released a report on abuses in Kashmir in June 2018, and to the OIC secretary general.

In light of Saturday's escalation in occupied Kashmir, the foreign minister said he has asked the officials to intervene with haste "so that people could get relief from this brutality".

He added that he has directed Pakistan's missions abroad to highlight this issue in their countries and to apprise their interlocutors of the situation and demand that they play a role in ending this brutality.

Qureshi said that he has also spoken to the OIC secretary general on the phone and requested him to call a ministerial meeting of the OIC conflict group.

"Pakistan is ready to host [the meeting] and make arrangements in Islamabad. If there are any difficulties in coming to Pakistan, it could also be held in Jeddah."

According to the minister, an international conference on Kashmir will be held on February 5 next year in London to highlight Indian atrocities.

The PTI leader said that all political parties were unanimous over the Kashmir issue, stressing the need to pass a joint resolution in the National Assembly to condemn India's use of force.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office in a statement said Pakistan strongly condemns the "horrific bloodbath" in Indian occupied Kashmir a day earlier.

"The mindless killing spree carried out by the Indian occupation forces on Saturday is yet another example of the Indian atrocities against the innocent Kashmiris," the statement read.

It said India had continued to ignore "legitimate demands" for international probes into the "gross and systematic human rights violations, including [the] use of pellet guns, excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest and detentions, as well as continued sexual violence, as a part of overall impunity enjoyed by the Indian security forces".

The government and people of Pakistan are committed in their support for the "oppressed" people of occupied Kashmir, the press release added.

Clampdown in occupied Kashmir

A security clampdown and a strike by Kashmiris fighting against Indian rule shut most of Indian-occupied Kashmir on Sunday, a day after chaotic protests and fighting killed seven civilians in the disputed region.

Armed police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear fanned out across the region in anticipation of anti-India protests and clashes. Shops and businesses closed in other areas with no security restrictions.

At least seven civilians were killed and over three dozen injured on Saturday when Indian forces fired at anti-India protesters following a gunbattle that left three Kashmiri fighters and a soldier dead.

Following the violence, Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had announced that Kashmiri people, under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) group, “will march towards Badami Bagh Army cantonment on Monday [December] 17” to ask the Indian forces to “kill all of us at one time rather than killing us daily”.