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ISLAMABAD: Urging the world community to “intervene” and stop ongoing bloodshed in India-held Kashmir, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has asked the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to immediately convene an inter-ministerial meeting of its Contact Group on Kashmir, saying Pakistan is ready to host the event.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Mr Qureshi said he had contacted the OIC secretary general to apprise him about the latest situation in occupied Kashmir and Pakistan’s desire for convening of the meeting of the member states in Islamabad.

Mr Qureshi said he had told the OIC secretary general that the proposed meeting could also be held in Jeddah, if the participants had any difficulty in travelling to Islamabad. According to the minister, the OIC secretary general responded positively and asked him to submit a formal request.

Imran condemns killing of Kashmiri people, Qureshi seeks international community’s intervention

Condemning the killing of 14 Kashmiris by Indian forces in Pulwama on Saturday, he said, “It appears Indian forces are on killing spree. The forces are not resorting to aerial firing to quell protests and disperse crowds. The yesterday’s events show that their aim is to kill.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan through his official account on Twitter also condemned the killings of innocent civilians at the hands of Indian forces in the Pulwama area.

“(I) strongly condemn killing of innocent Kashmiri civilians in Pulwama IoK by Indian security forces. Only dialogue and not violence and killings will resolve this conflict. We will raise issue of India’s human rights violations in IoK and demand the UNSC fulfill its J&K plebiscite commitment,” Mr Khan tweeted. “Kashmiris must be allowed to decide their future,” he said.

Mr Qureshi said he was also sending letters to the secretaries general of the United Nations and the UN Human Rights Commission drawing their attention to recent surge in the acts of barbarism and brutalities by Indian forces against innocent and unarmed Kashmiri people. He called upon the international community and human rights organisations to take notice of the ongoing killing spree by the occupation forces in held Kashmir.

Hoping the world would not remain silent to such incidents in held Kashmir, he urged the human rights watchdogs to “at least distinguish between an issue and the ruthless killing spree.”

“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,” Mr Qureshi said, while addressing the international community.

He also said they wanted to host an international conference on Kashmir in London on Feb 5. He urged all political parties of the country and the Kashmiri community living in London to participate in the conference in a large number to highlight the Kashmir cause.

In reply to a question, Mr Qureshi, who is also the vice-chairman of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, said all the political parties of the country had unanimity of views on the Kashmir issue and, therefore, they should not wait for any formal invitation. However, he said, he would contact Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Senator Sherry Rehman of the Pakistan Peoples Party and invite them to the Foreign Office to give their suggestions. He said if the parties wanted to organise the conference from the platform of the parliament, then the Foreign Office was ready to provide all assistance in this regard.

The foreign minister said all political parties should show solidarity for the just and human cause and gather under the national and Kashmiri flags, instead of their party flags.

He said Pakistan would also attend a public hearing being arranged by the European Parliament on Feb 19 on the Kashmir issue.

Besides, he said, he planned to talk to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser so that a unanimous resolution could be passed in the parliament to condemn the Indian forces’ atrocities in occupied Kashmir.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office issued a separate statement, saying that “Pakistan strongly condemns the horrific bloodbath in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian occupation force that has resulted in the martyrdom of 14 innocent Kashmiris and injuries to more than 200 protesters.”

“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,” it said, adding that “India continues to kill and maim, under the garb of combating terror”.

It said in held Kashmir, every man, woman or a child who protested against India’s illegal occupation and brutalities against innocent and hapless Kashmiris was declared a “terrorist”.

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

It further said to try to deflect international attention from occupied Kashmir, “India continues to launch a volley of attacks along the Line of Control, killing and maiming innocent civilians, living along the border.”

Asking Indian to allow investigations by an independent fact finding Commission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission and the OIC into ongoing gross human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, the FO said India would have to fulfil its obligations under the United National Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.

APP adds: The foreign minister lamented the ongoing incidents of state aggression and barbarism were unprecedented and recounted casualties of students, including Aaqib Bhat, and unarmed Kashmiri people like Gulzar Shaikh.

Even 18-month toddler Hiba Nisar was not spared, who lost her eyesight due to pellet guns shots, he added, condemning the act as a grave human rights violation.

Mr Qureshi said the Pakistani missions abroad had been directed to highlight the issue and draw attention of host governments, asking them to play their role to end inhuman atrocities in occupied Kashmir. He said Indian forces had killed 50 innocent Kashmiris during the current year so far.

To a question, the foreign minister said even people in India felt their government must revisit its hawkish policy on Kashmir. Owing to political interests, he added, the Modi government was reluctant to engage with Pakistan.

He said held Kashmir was the most militarised territory in the world where one soldier had been deployed per 17 people. India had been using all tactics to achieve its objectives in held Kashmir, including labelling the freedom movement as terrorism, he added.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2018