India asked to free Kashmiri human rights defenders

Published August 18, 2023
In this January 19 file photo, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch speaks during her weekly press briefing. — Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan/File
In this January 19 file photo, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch speaks during her weekly press briefing. — Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan/File

KARACHI: Pakistan on Thursday urged India to bring an end to the illegal detention of Kashmiri human rights defenders Khurrum Pervaiz and Irfan Mehraj and numerous other activists languishing in jails for raising their voice against Indian oppression.

The call for the Modi government was made by Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch at the weekly briefing in the wake of a communication sent to India by UN special procedures for human rights, expressing serious concerns at the arrest, detention and charges against Mr Pervaiz and Mr Mehraj.

Mr Pervaiz, programme coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, and Mr Mehraj, a researcher with JKCSS, are detained at Rohini prison in New Delhi.

The UN special procedures have expressed concern that their detention are designed to delegitimise their human rights work and to obstruct monitoring of the human rights situation in India-held Kashmir.

FO says no Chinese harmed in Gwadar attack; calls on Delhi to ensure cricket team’s safety

The spokesperson said the communication by the UN special procedures is yet another indictment of the occupation authorities in India-held Jammu and Kashmir as Delhi continues to silence and harass Kashmiri human rights defenders.

During the briefing, Ms Baloch touched on various issues, including the security of Pakistan cricket team in India, political situation in the country, Afghanistan, terrorist attack on Chinese engineers, etc.

In reply to a question about statements from different countries calling for elections within the specified time, the spokesperson said Pakistan will continue to follow its constitutional and legal obligations. “This is a message that we have conveyed to our foreign interlocutors with respect to political developments in Pakistan,” she added.

About the Aug 13 attack targeting Chinese nationals working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project in Gwadar, the spokesperson said that due to timely action by security forces, the attack was foiled and the terrorists involved were killed.

She said no Chinese national was harmed in the incident, adding that ensuring the safety and security of all Chinese personnel, projects and institutions remains a key priority for Pakistan.

“Planners and perpetrators of this abhorrent act will be brought to justice. They will never succeed in their evil design to damage our bilateral ties with China,” she said.

Responding to a question that there will be no separate security arrangement for Pakistani cricket team during its stay in India for the World Cup matches, the spokesperson said Pakistan believes “it is their [India’s] responsibility to provide foolproof security and the right environment for our team to participate, an environment in which our players are able to participate without fear for their safety and without undue harassment by the spectators in the stands”.

Asked if any talks are going on between Pakistan and the US on India and Afghanistan, she recalled Pakistan had always said that it would like to partner with all friendly countries to promote peace and dialogue in South Asia, Afghanistan and in the context of Pakistan-India relations.

With regards to a decree issued by the Afghan Taliban forbidding cross-border attacks, Ms Baloch said Islamabad welcomes all statements that would lead to cessation of terrorist activities against Pakistan.

“We hope that Afghan authorities will honour the commitments that they have made to the international community and Pakistan, including in the trilateral meeting that took place between the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Afghanistan and China in May this year,” she added.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2023

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