Pakistan’s foreign minister told the United Nations human rights forum on Tuesday that India’s military presence in the disputed Muslim-majority territory of Kashmir raised the spectre of genocide.
India, which stripped Kashmir of its autonomy on August 5, in response accused Pakistan of “offensive rhetoric.. of false allegations and concocted charges” against it.
India and Pakistan both rule parts of the Himalayan region while claiming it in full. They have fought two wars over it and India’s move to impose direct rule on its side of the de facto border has reignited hostility.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi evoked past and current atrocities in Europe, Africa and Asia when he addressed the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“The forlorn, traumatised towns, mountains, plains and valleys of Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir reverberate today, with the grim reminders of Rwanda, Srebrenica, the Rohingya, and the pogrom of Gujarat,” he said.
“I shudder to mention the word genocide here, but I must... The Kashmiri people in the occupied territory - as a national, ethnic, racial and religious group of people - face grave threats to their lives, way of living and livelihoods from a murderous, misogynistic and xenophobic regime.”
The minister urged the council to heed recommendations by UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet and her predecessor Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to launch a so-called international Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the Kashmir situation.
A COI is one of the UN’s highest-level probes, generally reserved for major crises like the Syrian conflict, reported Reuters.
Later India’s vice minister for foreign affairs , Vijay Thakur Singh, took the floor at the forum to hit back.
“The world is aware that this fabricated narrative comes from the epicentre of global terrorism, where ring-leaders are sheltered for years,” she said.
“This country conducts cross-border terrorism as a form of alternate diplomacy,” she added, without naming Pakistan.
India flooded the Kashmir valley with troops, restricted movements and cut off communication as Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew special rights for the region on August 5. Mobile and internet connections have been cut off ever since.
Singh said the Jammu and Kashmir civil administration was ensuring basic services and essential supplies, and restrictions were being eased.
Meanwhile, a militant in Indian-administered Kashmir affiliated to a Pakistani-based militant group was killed by security forces in the restive territory yesterday, police said.
Asif Maqbool Bhatt belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based group designated by the UN as a terrorist organisation, senior local police official Munir Khan told AFP.