Pakistan concerned over curbs in held Kashmir despite virus

Published March 30, 2020
World urged to ask India to allow supply of medical equipment. — APP/File
World urged to ask India to allow supply of medical equipment. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed deep concern over continued restrictions in occupied Jammu and Kashmir despite so many confirmed cases of coronavirus and two deaths due to the disease.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui regretted that thousands of Kashmiri youths, members of civil society, journalists and Kashmiri leaders were incarcerated in Indian prisons, many of them at undisclosed locations and away from their families.

The Indian forces, she said, continued to operate in the occupied territory with complete impunity under draconian laws such as Public Safety Act (PSA) and Armed Forces Special Power Act.

The FO spokesperson said that senior Hurriyat leaders were under detention at homes or in different prisons. She said Yasin Malik, Aasia Andrabi and others were languishing in Indian jails under “fake charges” and without a free or fair trial.

World urged to ask India to allow supply of medical equipment

She said that Mr Malik, who is already suffering from deteriorating health, had threatened an indefinite hunger strike in protest against a false charge sheet issued by the Indian government against him in a 30-year-old case.

The FO spokesperson said that since the Indian illegal actions of Aug 5 last year, all educational institutions in the occupied territory had almost remained closed.

“The students are unable to continue virtual education due to continued restrictions on 4G internet services. While the world is fighting the worst global health emergency, over 900,000 Indian military and paramilitary occupation troops continue adding to the suffering of innocent Kashmiris,” she said.

The FO spokesperson said that the international community, cognisant of the worst human rights violations and atrocities being perpetrated by India in the disputed region, must urgently demand immediate lifting of communication restrictions and allowing unfettered access of medical and other essential supplies to the people of the occupied valley.

“The Indian government must also be urged to immediately allow release of all political prisoners from Indian jails, end incarceration of Kashmiri leaders, including the senior All Parties Hurriyat Conference leaders, restore full internet facility in the entire occupied region, remove PSA and other draconian laws, and withdraw occupation forces from IoK,” she added.

The FO spokesperson said the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in the occupied valley exacerbated by India’s illegal and unilateral actions since August last year had been amply exposed by the international human rights organisations and international media.

The Indian government, she said, could not continue to suppress legitimate aspirations of the people of occupied Kashmir without facing international opprobrium and censure.

For its part, she said, Pakistan would continue supporting its Kashmiri brethren in their rightful struggle against Indian oppression till the realisation of their inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in the United Nation Security Council resolutions.

The FO spokesperson’s statement came exactly two weeks after Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, while speaking at a video conference of the leadership of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation on the issue of spread of Covid-19, drew the attention of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was hosting the conference, to the continued lockdown in occupied Kashmir and urged New Delhi to lift lockdown from the territory to enable the containment and relief efforts in view of health emergency.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2020

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