ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday asked India not to take any further unilateral steps in Occupied Kashmir, which could undermine regional peace and security.

“We once again call upon India to halt and revisit its unlawful and destabilising actions; ensure full compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions; and refrain from any further steps that might imperil the regional peace and security,” Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said.

Mr Chaudhri’s remarks come in the backdrop of reports that India was planning to further divide Occupied Kashmir’s territory and introduce more demographic changes for perpetuating its control. The talk of India contemplating bifurcation of Occupied Kashmir began weeks ago when Modi government sent more troops to the disputed area.

“IIOJK [Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir] is an internationally recognised disputed territory. India’s unilateral and illegal actions in IIOJK remain in violation of international law and numerous United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions,” the spokesman asserted.

It should be recalled that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently addressed a letter to the president of the United Nations Security Council and the UN secretary general to convey Pakistan’s concern on reports about the possibility of newer actions by India there.

“The foreign minister has been regularly addressing letters to the Security Council and the UN secretary general to keep the UN fully informed of the grave situation in the territory occupied by India; and to remind the Security Council of its responsibility for peaceful and just settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions,” Mr Chaudhri said.

The spokesman urged the international community take “immediate cognisance” of the situation developing in Occupied Kashmir.

He reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to continue opposing Indian attempts to change the demographic structure and status of IIOJK as a disputed territory.

“We remain firm in our commitment to provide all possible support to the people of IIOJK in their just struggle for the realisation of their inalienable right to self-determination,” he added.

Responding to a question about a bill passed by the National Assembly providing right of appeal to convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, the spokesman said the legislative measures were taken to give full effect to the International Court of Justice’s judgement. “The legislation or its purpose should not be, in any way, misconstrued,” he said about the opposition’s criticism of the legislation.

About claims that Jadhav-specific bill was introduced as part of efforts for reconciliation with India, he said Pakistan wants peaceful relations with all its neighbours including India, but for normalisation to progress, it is critical that resolution of the longstanding disputes, particularly the core issue of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute takes place.

“Unfortunately, India through its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 and continuing gross and systematic human rights violations in the occupied territory has vitiated the environment. The onus is on India to create an enabling environment for a meaningful engagement,” he maintained.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2021

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