ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday called upon the UN human rights chief to ask India to end rights abuses in held Kashmir.

In a letter addressed to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the foreign minister asked her to tell India “to rescind its unilateral actions, lift the curfew and other draconian measures and restore fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people”.

The letter said that ever since India annexed occupied Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 of its constitution earlier this month, the valley has been put under curfew and communications blackout for suppressing protests against the Indian action.

Moreover, massive additional troop deployment has been made by India in what is already one of the world’s most heavily militarised zones.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his letter says Delhi’s actions constitute flagrant violations of UN Charter, Security Council resolutions, international law and India’s own commitments

On Thursday, the Foreign Office had warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in the held valley, which was described as the world’s largest jail. The FO had then said that “the region is awaiting a looming humanitarian crisis as there is a shortage of food and medicines, which risk lives of the people, especially the elderly, women and children”.

In the letter, Mr Qureshi mentioned Pakistani concerns over sufferings of Kashmiris in the valley and the resulting dire humanitarian situation.

“The letter underscores that India’s actions constitute flagrant violations of the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions, international law and India’s own solemn commitments,” the FO said in its statement on the letter.

The letter has also been shared with the UN Security Council and all members of the United Nations. The Security Council met a week ago on a Pakistani request supported by China for ‘private consultations’ on the situation in the occupied valley.

The letter was written as part of the diplomatic efforts to highlight the situation in held Kashmir.

The Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in its second report launched last month had documented the human rights situation in held Kashmir between May 2018 and April 2019. The report specifically noted the sharp aggravation in the situation after the Feb 14 attack on Indian paramilitary forces in Pulwama that led to a military stand-off between Pakistan and India.

It had stated that the post-Pulwama situation continued to impact the rights of Kashmiris, including the right to life.

Foreign Minister Qureshi also briefed Islamabad-based diplomatic corps on the deteriorating situation in occupied Kashmir.

Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2019