ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday again called upon the international community to take note of the aggravating human rights situation in occupied Kashmir and the implications of hostile Indian actions for regional peace and security.

He was talking to US senators Christopher Van Hollen and Margaret Hassan, who are visiting Pakistan to study the situation in Kashmir after India annexed the occupied valley in August. They visited Azad Kashmir on Sunday and held meetings with the political leadership there. The senators were earlier denied access to occupied Kashmir.

“It was critical for the international community to raise its voice for respect of the rights and freedoms of the people in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The international community must also take cognizance of the grave consequences of Indian actions for regional peace and stability and should act immediately,” the prime minister told the Congressional delegation.

Mr Khan recalled how the continuing restrictions on movement and communications due to the two-month-old clampdown were worsening the humanitarian crisis in held Kashmir.

“Acute shortage of basic necessities including medicine and food to the people incarcerated in the largest prison on earth was a grave violation of the fundamental human rights and international humanitarian law,” he said.

PM, army chief discuss Kashmir issue with US senators

The US senators said they shared concerns on the current humanitarian situation caused by Indian actions and expressed their resolve to continue to remain engaged on the issue.

Besides discussing the Kashmir issue, the prime minister and the visiting delegation also exchanged views on strengthening Pakistan-US ties and the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.

PM Khan stressed the need for early resumption of the US-Taliban negotiations that have been stalled for a month now.

Delegations of the United States and the Taliban visited Islamabad last week to explore the possibility of revival of talks. Pakistan and the Taliban look keen on resumption of US-Taliban contacts, but Washington has not been too enthusiastic and has stuck on its preconditions of a ceasefire announcement and involving the Afghan government in the peace talks.

Although there was no major breakthrough at meetings in Islamabad between the US and Taliban facilitated by Pakistan, the two sides have begun taking confidence-building measures in the shape of release of prisoners.

Prime Minister Khan underscored that advancing peace and stability in Afghanistan was a shared interest of both the US and Pakistan. He, therefore, reiterated Pakistan’s continued commitment to facilitating a political solution in Afghanistan.

About Pak-US relations, the prime minister said they were based on mutual trust and partnership for peace.

The US senators affirmed that they would work for a broad-based and long-term relationship with enhanced trade ties between the two countries.

Meeting with COAS

The US senators later visited the General Headquarters for a meeting with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“During the meeting, issues of mutual interest and overall regional security situation including Afghan reconciliation process and Kashmir issue were discussed. Visiting dignitaries acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts for regional peace and stability. COAS appreciated US understanding and support on all the need for resolving Kashmir [issue] and for Pakistan’s efforts in Afghanistan,” the Inter-Services Public Relations said.

“Both sides stressed upon importance of strong bilateral relationship between the US and Pakistan in and beyond security cooperation,” it added.

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2019