Pakistan condemns in 'strongest possible terms' Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik's conviction after 'sham trial'
Pakistan has condemned "in strongest possible terms" the conviction of Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik by an Indian court after a "sham trial" in a "manifestly dubious and motivated case" and urged Indian authorities to stop the victimisation of the "true representatives of the Kashmiri people".
Yesterday, an Indian court convicted Malik in a terrorism-related case, filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), that carries a maximum sentence of the death penalty or life imprisonment. He had been charged with terrorist acts, illegally raising funds, being a member of a terrorist organisation and criminal conspiracy and sedition.
According to the Press Trust of India, during the hearing on Thursday, the Kashmiri leader protested the charges, saying that he was a "freedom fighter".
“Terrorism-related charges levelled against me are concocted, fabricated and politically motivated,” his organisation, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front — one of the first armed freedom fighting groups to come into existence in India-occupied Kashmir (IoK) — cited him as telling the court.
“If seeking azadi (freedom) is a crime, then I am ready to accept this crime and its consequences,” he told the judge.
Subsequently, Judge Praveen Singh set May 25 for hearing arguments from both sides on sentencing and has directed Malik to provide an affidavit regarding his financial assets.
In a statement issued on Thursday evening following the conviction, the Foreign Office (FO) called the development "highly reprehensible" and said that the "fictitious charges" against him were not only in defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) but also attempted to make "conjectural insinuations about Pakistan".
"The renewed haste with which cases against Kashmiri leadership are being pursued further exposes the nefarious Indian designs to undermine historic and distinct political and cultural identity of IIOJK (Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir)," it said, highlighting that Malik's conviction and the "motivated cases" conjured up against other Kashmiri leaders was proof of the malicious Indian campaign being run to deprive Kashmiris of their true leadership.
"The inhuman incarceration of Mr Yasin Malik in the infamous Tihar jail, his sham trial in concocted cases, fallacious conviction, and malfeasant attempts at defiling the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris for their right to self-determination as 'terrorism' further illustrate India as a serial violator of human rights and usurper of the fundamental rights of the Kashmiris," the FO said.
"The struggle for the right of self-determination in Kashmir is indigenous and cannot be dampened by the draconian strong-arm tactics of the Indian Government."
Pakistan further urged the Indian government to stop the victimisation of Kashmiris through inhuman detentions and trumped up charges.
India, it said, must release all political prisoners detained on "trumped-up charges", stop human rights violations in the region, lift the brutal military siege, and let Kashmiris exercise their right to self-determination according to their aspirations and relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
The FO also stressed the international community to counsel India to drop all fabricated charges against all political leaders of IoK including Malik, ensure their safety and well-being, and provide them complete legal protections, including the right to a free and fair trial.
Earlier, the FO had also issued a demarche to the Indian charge d’affaires for framing fabricated charges against Malik.
The Indian diplomat was conveyed Pakistan’s grave concern that in a bid to suppress the voice of indigenous Kashmiri leaders, Delhi had started implicating them in fictitious and motivated cases.
The Indian side was also conveyed Pakistan's deep concern over the brutal treatment meted out to the Kashmiri leader despite his chronic ailments and a steep decline of his health.
FM Bilawal raises Kashmir issue with US congressman
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari raised the issue of Jammu and Kashmir with US Congressman Adam Smith in a virtual meeting on Thursday.
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bilawal specifically drew congressman’s attention to the steps recently taken by India to redraw the constituencies in IoK through an illegal delimitation process in order to change the Muslim majority into minority in the occupied territory.
Pakistan would remain proactive in exploring opportunities and overtures for steering South Asia towards peace, security and stability, he said.
Bilawal is in New York on his maiden visit to US as foreign minister. During their meeting yesterday, the FM and the Congressman also discussed strengthening bilateral and defence ties between the two countries and the need for sustained engagement in the area.
The minister emphasised the importance of boosting business-to-business and commercial ties and allowing US entrepreneurs the opportunity to benefit from the immense potential offered by Pakistan’s unique economic geography, the statement added.