India trying to mislead world on occupied Kashmir situation: FO

Published February 16, 2021
FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV/File
FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: India is trying to present a false and misleading narrative on the situation in occupied Kashmir by taking foreign diplomats on a tour of the Valley, the Foreign Office said on Monday.

Spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, commenting on a trip being arranged for diplomats based in New Delhi, said it was a part of India’s “efforts to mislead the world community”.

India plans to take a group of diplomats from European and Gulf countries to occupied Jammu and Kashmir on February 17 and 18 to give an impression of normalcy in the Valley, which has been under unprecedented restrictions since the region was stripped of its autonomy in August 2019.

The visit follows the restoration of 4G internet services in occupied Kashmir after an 18-month-long ban.

This would be the third such visit by foreign diplomats since the annexation. These visits are tightly controlled and leave little room for making an independent judgement of the situation. The previous two trips were made in January and February last year.

During these trips the diplomats get to meet government officials, security personnel and supporters of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

“Such guided tours are a smokescreen aimed at diverting international attention from India’s egregious human rights violations in IIOJK (Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir), and creating a false impression of normalcy,” the spokesman said.

“The visit would mean nothing if there is no access to all the areas and possibility to freely interact with Kashmiri people and the civil society in an atmosphere free of intimidation,” he added.

The spokesman emphasised that foreign diplomats should be given an opportunity to meet the Hurriyat leadership, many of whom are incarcerated, to enable them to make an objective assessment of the ground realities.

“The Indian notion of so-called normalcy in IIOJK has no feet to stand on.”

Mr Chaudhri once again called on India to allow the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations observers, the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission, international human rights and civil society organisations; and the international media to visit IIOJK and assess the situation on the ground.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2021

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