The Foreign Office (FO) on Saturday welcomed the hearing of of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the United States Congress on the situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where people are facing movement and communications restrictions for more than 100 days.
"Pakistan welcomes the public hearing on human rights in occupied Jammu and Kashmir by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress, held on November 14 at Washington DC," read a statement issued today.
According to the statement, the deliberations of the commission reinforced internationally recognised disputed nature of the Jammu and Kashmir issue and highlighted gross human rights violations and the humanitarian crisis in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
"A call for an independent fact-finding mission to occupied Kashmir was made and the right of self-determination of Kashmiri people was also duly underscored during the Commission’s proceedings," it added.
"Held less than a month after the hearing of the Subcommittee on Asia of the US House of Representatives, the Lantos Commission hearing reflected continued international concern over the situation in Kashmir," the FO said, adding that Pakistan recognises efforts of members of the US Congress who have raised their voices of conscience on the ongoing persecution of the people in occupied Kashmir and called upon the Indian government to end its brutal repression.
"We appreciate that the US leadership and lawmakers are cognisant of the potential threats to fundamental human rights, freedom of speech, right of self-determination, and peace and stability in the region and are willing to play their due role to help bring the continuing humanitarian nightmare to an end," the statement read.
According to the FO, the general view during the hearing was that international journalists, independent human rights organisations and United Nations Special Rapporteurs should be allowed to visit occupied Kashmir.
"The witnesses also called for immediate lifting of the communications blockade and restoration of human rights in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Overall, it was emphasised that India should not be allowed to continue its oppressive policies as well as religious and ethnic persecution," the statement read.
The FO said that the international community was urged to hold independent investigations into grave human rights violations in the occupied territory. "Importantly, the need for the US Congress to play an even greater role in urging India to end its repression in occupied Kashmir, without succumbing to any political expediency, was emphasised."
"The courage of the panelists who became the voice of innocent Kashmiri people being brutally silenced by India's communications blockade is laudable," the FO said, adding that they shredded the myth of so-called “largest democracy” and honestly exposed the authoritarian, nationalistic and extremist motivations driving the Indian government’s deplorable and repressive policies.
"They also expressed their concern that persecution of religious minorities in India, especially manifested in the form of anti-conversion legislation, Babri Masjid verdict, National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam as well as mob violence and lynching were fostering a growing sense of fear among the minorities in India."