UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan reminded India on Sunday that it was committing the ‘gravest form of terrorism’ on the people of India-held Kashmir.

Pakistan, in a strongly-worded rebuke to the Indian response following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly, pointed out that one of the Sangh Parivar parties (the group to which India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party belongs), has been thrice banned in its own country on terror-related charges.

“May I remind the Indian delegation of the position of 120 members of the non-aligned movement that repression of the people under occupation amounted to the gravest form of terrorism,” a Pakistani diplomat Zulqarnain Chheena said while responding to Indian claims on held Kashmir.

India criticised for coming up with ‘novel model’ in which the stakeholders are locked up

India’s terrorism in Kashmir “should be denounced as such,” he added.

On Friday night, Vidisha Maitra, a first secretary at India’s Ministry of External Affairs, exercised her country’s right of reply to Mr Khan’s Friday speech to defend the Indian position on held Kashmir.

She said Pakistan’s “virulent reaction to the removal of an outdated and temporary provision (Article 370) … stems from the fact that those who thrive on conflict never welcome the ray of peace”. Article 370, she claimed, was “hindering development and integration of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir” into India. She, however, did not mention that most Kashmiris were against such an integration.

On Aug 5, India revoked this article that guaranteed some autonomy to the occupied valley and put more than eight million Kashmiris under an indefinite siege. The curfew imposed on Aug 5 remains enforced more than 50 days after the Indian action.

Accusing Pakistan of venturing into “upstream terrorism and downstream hate speech,” she said that instead of restoring Kashmir’s autonomy, India would continue to implement its so-called reform-package in the occupied territory.

In his speech to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Khan said that in the name of development, India was trying to change Kashmir’s demography — from a Muslim majority to a Muslim minority region.

But Ms Maitra described the Indian action as “the mainstreaming of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Ladakh, in India’s thriving and vibrant democracy with a millennia-old heritage of diversity, pluralism and tolerance is well and truly under way.”

“Irreversibly so,” said the Indian diplomat, making it clear that New Delhi had no plan to reverse its actions. She also accused Pakistan of “building an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate”.

The Pakistani diplomat rejected her claims as incorrect.

Pakistan also called attention to the fact that India, despite touting claims that it had “removed an outdated and temporary provision” (Article 370 of its constitution), and proclaiming its “millennia-old heritage of diversity, pluralism and tolerance”, had failed to include even a cursory mention of the plight of the people of held Kashmir.

“We were instead treated to a fable that illegal Indian annexation of the occupied territory was meant to remove hindrances to the development of the occupied territory.”

‘Novel model’

Pakistan questioned such a “novel model” where the stakeholders to the so-called development are locked up.

“If indeed, the actions taken are so well-meaning to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, I ask the Indian representative: Why does the Indian state not allow the Kashmiri people to come out and express their feeling? Why is India so afraid?” asked the Pakistan representative.

“Does India have the moral courage to respond to the findings of the United Nations Office of the High Commission of Human Rights (UNOHCHR) reports on occupied Jammu and Kashmir that have documented a litany of barbaric Indian oppression in the occupied territory?” he further inquired.

“If not, the creaking Indian defence is nothing but a self- perpetuating farce.

“The central reality of all this, Mr President, is the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir and the denial of the fundamental right of self-determination pledged to Kashmiris by India, Pakistan and the international community as enshrined in the 11 Security Council resolutions,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2019