By Prarthana Mitra
Just a week after the new UN Human Rights Council chief mounted pressure on India and Pakistan to resolve the border dispute over Kashmir, both South Asian nations engaged in a rebuttal over the latest UN assessment report, at the 39th session of the UNHRC in Geneva.
On the UN report and cross-border terrorism
First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India, Mini Devi Kumam, on Tuesday took the opportunity and the Right to Reply instrument to accuse Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. At the panel, India also brought up the human rights violations across the border in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Kumam castigated the Pakistani government and military in a response to Pakistan’s continued reference to the “fallacious and motivated” UN report, India had rejected from the outset. The centre had refused to act on the findings of the first-ever UN report on human rights in Kashmir, calling it “overtly prejudiced” and “false narrative” in June.
“We deplore Pakistan’s repeated and malicious propaganda to distract the world from its gross violation of human rights especially in the territories under its control,” the Indian diplomat said, asking Pakistan to address the very real problem of cross-border terrorism and infiltration. The nature and extent of it are evident, she continued, from the sheer number of Pakistani terrorists apprehended by Indian security forces over the years.
Kumam also did not hold back from criticising Pakistan’s incompetence in dealing with internal conflicts and offering a safe haven to homegrown terrorist organisations, something the US is not happy about either. Kumam on Tuesday said, “It is ironical that a State whose foundation was laid on religious fundamentalism speaks about communal disharmony and religious intolerance. In its obsession with puritanism, it has unleashed systematic persecution against its own Muslim minorities including Shias, Ahmadiyas, Ismailia and Hazaras, who have been reduced to second-class citizens.”
“The Council may note that concerns have been raised by the international community on the absence of constitutional and civil rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and their sufferings due to deliberate economic policies causing extreme poverty, gross underdevelopment and economic hardships. Large-scale repression, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings continue with impunity in Sindh, Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir,” Kumam said.
The diplomat added that Pakistan has the “dubious distinction of having more cases of persecution under Blasphemy laws than the rest of the world put together, and urged the state to “stop misusing the Council and focus on its own dismal human rights record”. “The world does not need lessons on democracy and human rights from Pakistan which has not enjoyed any true democracy since its existence,” Kumam firmly declared.
This exchange of diplomatic banter, however, serves no purpose to the decades of suffering by millions of Kashmiris. India is well aware of the role both armies play in escalating tension at the border. India, like Pakistan, cannot deny gross violations by the security forces. It should further order an investigation into and prosecution of abusive soldiers and repeal the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act immediately, as recommended by several international and Indian experts.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius