ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday asked India to vacate held Kashmir by withdrawing its occupation troops from there.

Addressing the Senate’s special session on completion of one year of India’s unilateral action of taking away special status of Kashmir and imposing the longest-ever curfew and lockdown in the occupied valley, he called for an immediate end of the siege around the valley, restrictions on media and atrocities against women and children.

It was the first appearance of a head of state in the upper house of parliament in over three decades. First lady Samina Alvi, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Soori and ambassadors and high commissioners of over a dozen countries were present in the galleries during the president’s address.

The president demanded that the changes made in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir in violation of the United Nations resolutions and the Geneva Convention should be reversed.

Dr Alvi said Kashmiris should not consider themselves alone as Pakistan would continue its peaceful efforts for realisation of their right to self-determination.

Senate urges UN body to investigate human rights violations by Indian forces

He said invaluable sacrifices rendered by the valiant people of Kashmir would not go in vein and the day was not far when the Kashmir liberation movement would be crowned with success.

Soon after the president’s address, the house unanimously adopted a resolution reiterating rejection of India’s illegal and unilateral actions since August 5, 2019 aimed at perpetuating its inhumane occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. The resolution was moved by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

The house denounced the Indian government for taking advantage of the world’s preoccupation with the Covid-19 pandemic to introduce new domicile rules in occupied Kashmir in an attempt to illegally change the demographic structure of the region to advance its ‘Hindutva’ agenda.

It declared that the illegal steps to turn Muslims into a minority in the only Muslim-majority area in India were in clear violation of the UNSC resolutions, bilateral agreements and international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention.

The house asked India to release Kashmiri political leadership, remove restrictions on media, internet and mobile communications, movement and peaceful assembly of people, provide access to occupied Kashmir to human rights and humanitarian organisations, independent observers and the media and repeal its draconian laws, including the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), Public Safety Act (PSA) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The house called upon the international community to use all tools at its disposal to hold India accountable for its illegal and unilateral actions and human rights violations against the Kashmiri people, pressurise India to adhere to its international human rights obligations and allow international media, humanitarian organisations and independent observers to enter held Kashmir to independently verify reports of abuse, violations and use of excessive force.

The UN Human Rights Council was also urged to constitute a commission of inquiry to investigate gross and consistent human rights violations being committed by the Indian occupation forces with impunity under the cover of the two draconian laws — the AFSPA and the PSA — as recommended by the two reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2020

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