KARACHI: Pakistan has decided to invoke the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the issue of ‘genocide’ and human rights violation in India-occupied Kashmir following New Delhi’s unilateral decision to change the special constitutional status of the held valley.
“An in-principle decision to approach [the ICJ] at earliest has been taken,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a private news channel on Tuesday. “We are examining our legal options and [now] we believe that we have a solid case regarding genocide in Occupied Kashmir that can be taken up there [ICJ].”
But when Mr Qureshi was asked by ARY TV whether Islamabad would take up the matter of human rights violation in India-held Kashmir or New Delhi’s decision to revoke the valley’s special status before the ICJ, he replied that the law ministry would provide legal details in this regard.
A Reuters report said that a decision by the ICJ would be advisory only. However, if India and Pakistan agree beforehand, the ruling will become binding.
The crucial decision — which the FM said was taken in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by him, the law minister and an international law expert — came after the UN Security Council (UNSC) held a meeting last week exclusively on the Kashmir issue for the first time since 1965.
On Aug 6, Prime Minister Khan told a specially convened joint sitting of parliament that Pakistan was planning to approach “all international forums” — the UNSC, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the ICJ — to fight India’s Aug 5 ‘illegal’ decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status.
Later, Pakistan approached the UNSC requesting a closed-door meeting against New Delhi’s “illegal” action that also violated relevant UNSC resolutions.
In phone conversation with French FM, Shah Mehmood Qureshi urges Paris to play role on situation
After the meeting, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, had said the meeting brought the Kashmir dispute back to the world’s most influential panel and also highlighted the atrocities Indian troops were committing in the occupied territory.
Also on Tuesday, the federal cabinet approved the plan to approach the ICJ against India for illegal annexation of Occupied Kashmir.
Briefing journalists in Islamabad about the decisions made in the cabinet meeting, Special Assistant to the PM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said a penal of lawyers to plead Pakistan’s case before the ICJ had not been nominated so far.
“Definitely the assistance of seasoned legal experts, who have experience to fight such cases in the ICJ, will be sought,” she added.
Rejecting some media reports that India had lifted curfew in the valley, she said that Pakistan had planned to pursue the matter within legal framework on international forums.
She said Prime Minister Khan would address the UN General Assembly on Sept 27, a day after the speech of Indian premier Narendra Modi.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump spoke to PM Khan and his Indian counterpart Modi over the phone in a bid to defuse rising tensions in the region.
Dr Awan said that Prime Minister Khan informed the cabinet about his conversation with Mr Trump.
The prime minister, she said, apprised the US president about the curfew imposed in India-held Kashmir for the last 16 days and the brutalities inflicted on the Kashmiris by Indian armed forces.
“Imran Khan also informed President Trump that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to carry out genocide and ethnic cleansing in Occupied Kashmir, after its complete lockdown and suppressing the Kashmiris’ human rights,” she added.
She said the media should be given access to the held valley so that the world could know about the situation on the ground. “Narendra Modi is acting like Hitler and the media should highlight the oppression and atrocities being perpetrated by his forces in held Kashmir,” she added.
Replying to a question about the role of the Islamic world on Kashmir situation, she said it was a victory of Pakistan if Islamic countries, which were having billions of dollars of trade with India, were silent on Kashmir. “If they [Muslim countries] say anything in favour of India that will be against the cause of Pakistan and the Kashmiri people.”
Ms Awan said the prime minister, the nation, the opposition, the government and the cabinet members were on the same page that Kashmir was Pakistan’s first line of defence and that Azad Kashmir was a gateway to Occupied Kashmir.
Qureshi contacts French FM
Foreign Minister Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday to discuss the current situation in India-held Kashmir.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office said that Mr Qureshi briefed the French foreign minister on the illegal and unilateral actions of India to alter the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir, which was in contravention of the international law and UNSC resolutions.
He underlined that the steps taken by India in the occupied territory entailed a grave risk for peace and security in the region.
He also apprised the French foreign minister of the continuously deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Kashmir, including severe shortage of food and medicines, communications blackout and a complete lockdown for the last 16 days.
Mr Qureshi hoped that France, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, would play its due role to ensure peace and stability in the region. He urged France to impress upon India to lift curfew and ameliorate the hardships and sufferings of the people in Kashmir.
Foreign Minister Drian said France was concerned at the situation and urged both sides to engage in a bilateral dialogue. He emphasised the need to ensure that there was no further escalation and underscored that his country would have the same message for India.
The two leaders agreed to remain in contact and continue to work together for peace and stability in the region, the statement added.
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2019