Pakistan News

Members call both countries to resolve issue through talks in accordance with UN charter amid New Delhi’s resistance. — AFP/File

UNITED NATIONS: For the first time since 1965, the UN Security Council (UNSC) held a meeting exclusively on occupied Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, nullifying India’s claim that this was an internal matter.

Although the council did not agree on a statement, China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun summed up the discussions, expressing serious concern over the situation.

“The UNSC members are concerned about the human rights situation there and they (want) the parties concerned to refrain from taking any unilateral action that might further aggravate the tension there since the situation is already very tense and very dangerous,” he said.

Pakistan’s Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said the meeting brought the Kashmir dispute back to the world’s most influential panel and also highlighted the atrocities Indian troops were committing in the occupied territory.

“The voice of the Kashmiri people resonated in the chambers of the world’s highest diplomatic forum today,” she said. “The whole world is discussing the occupied state. This is an international dispute.”

Members call both countries to resolve issue through talks in accordance with UN charter amid New Delhi’s resistance

The factor that motivated the world body to re-focus on Kashmir after more than 50 years was highlighted by Russian envoy to UN Dmitry Polyanskiy. “Very much concerned. We hope to avoid it,” said the Russian diplomat when asked by a journalist outside the meeting room if Russia was concerned the dispute could escalate into a larger conflict between India and Pakistan.

Ambassador Zhang also underlined this factor in his remarks to the media, warning that India’s move to amend Kashmir’s constitutional status was “causing tensions in the region, China is deeply concerned and opposes any unilateral decisions”.

The Chinese envoy pointed out that “India’s action has also challenged China’s sovereign interests and violated bilateral agreement”.

He added that China believes “the status of Kashmir is still undecided” and “calls upon the relevant parties to exercise restraint.”

Ambassador Lodhi, speaking after the meeting, said that Pakistan’s efforts to seek justice for the people of held Kashmir will continue and “will only end when justice is done to the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.

“The people may be locked up, their voices may not be heard in their own land, but their voices were heard today at the UN and will always be heard because Pakistan will stand by them and extend full support,” she declared. “This is the first, not the last step.”

As the closed-door meeting began, two UN officials — Assistant Secretary General Oscar Taranco and Lt Gen Carlos Loitey — briefed the members of the Security Council on the situation in Kashmir and on activities of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan.

Various diplomats briefing journalists on the proceedings of the closed-door meeting said that UNSC members urged India and Pakistan to refrain from actions that would exacerbate tensions in the region.

The members reaffirmed relevant Council resolutions on the issue, vindicating Pakistan’s position that the UNSC resolutions that call for a plebiscite in the disputed territory should be implemented.

The members called on India and Pakistan to avoid actions that would escalate the situation along the Line of Control.

The members urged India and Pakistan to settle the dispute through peaceful manner, including through direct dialogue, based on related bilateral agreements in accordance with the UN Charter.

The reference to the UN Charter endorses the demand of the Kashmiri people that India should be held responsible for continuously violating their basic human rights.

The members agreed to follow the situation closely.

“We stand ready for a peaceful settlement of the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir,” said the Pakistani envoy while appreciating UNSC’s interest in the dispute.

China too expressed concern on the Indian clampdown in Kashmir, telling the UNSC members that situation in the disputed region was “serious and dangerous” and India’s “invalid, unilateral practices” had created this situation.

“The situation is already very tense and dangerous right now there [in India-held Kashmir],” Mr Zhang said. “India has violated bilateral agreement to keep peace in the border areas. It is obvious the constitutional amendment by India has changed the status quo in Kashmir.”

He reminded India that the UN secretary general had also urged New Delhi to “refrain from any unilateral step which is dangerous” and to follow the UN Charter.

“We are grateful for the 15 members of UNSC. We are ready for a peaceful settlement of J&K. It nullifies the Indian claim that J&K is an internal matter of India,” said Ambassador Lodhi.

After India revoked J&K’s special status on Aug 5 and announced the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, Pakistan approached the UN Security Council against New Delhi’s “illegal” action that also violated relevant UN resolutions”.

Pakistan requested a closed-door meeting. The consultative meeting, however, did not call for another meeting to review the situation in Kashmir. The meeting also did not issue a joint statement, as expected.

India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin presented the UNSC proceedings as the vindication of New Delhi’s position that Kashmir and other issues with Pakistan could only be discussed in a bilateral setup.

“We are consistent in all our positions that all issues will be resolved bilaterally and peacefully,” he said. “We stand ready to continue our efforts towards peaceful resolution of all issues in an atmosphere free of violence.”

Despite India’s unilateral action on Kashmir, Mr Akbaruddin said: “We are committed to the Simla agreement. It is now for Pakistan to stop terrorism and start talks,” he added.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2019

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi telephoned his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to apprise him of heightened tensions between Pakistan and India after the latter revoked autonomous status of the occupied territory through a presidential order. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Russia on Wednesday asked Pakistan to bilaterally resolve its dispute with India over Occupied Kashmir.

This message was given to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi when he telephoned his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to apprise him of heightened tensions between Pakistan and India after the latter revoked autonomous status of the occupied territory through a presidential order. Mr Qureshi’s outreach was part of the diplomatic efforts aimed at garnering support at the United Nations Security Council, whose president has been requested by Pakistan to convene an emergency session for deliberating on the escalation in the situation after the Indian move.

Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council. Although there has lately been improvement in relations between Moscow and Islamabad because of regional developments, Russia still remains a strong Indian ally and had supported Indian position after it annexed Occupied Kashmir last week.

According to a statement issued by the Russian foreign ministry, Mr Lavrov, during the conversation, “emphasised the need to de-escalate tensions and to have no alternative to resolving differences between Pakistan and India on a bilateral basis by political and diplomatic means”.

The Russian foreign ministry further noted that its envoy at the UN would be guided by “this consistent position” and will “adhere to it” when the discussion on the Pakistani letter to the Security Council starts.

Indian diplomat summoned to FO to receive protest over ceasefire violation along LoC

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office said in a statement that Mr Qureshi told Mr Lavrov that “Indian actions entailed grave risks for peace and security.” The foreign minister alerted Mr Lavrov about the possibility of a ‘false flag’ operation by India in Occupied Kashmir for implicating Pakistan. Such an incident, if it happened, would “further endanger peace and security in the region”, Mr Qureshi warned.

He also reminded the Russian FM of the situation in held Kashmir that has been under a curfew the for last 10 days with restrictions placed on communications. The Kashmiris, he said, were now facing “intensified repression” at the hands of security forces.

“The two leaders agreed to continue to work together for peace and stability in the region,” the FO said.

Indian diplomat

Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia was summoned to the Foreign Office to receive a protest over a ceasefire violation incident at the Line of Control (LoC) on Aug 13 in which a civilian was martyred. The violation occurred in Hot Spring Sector in which Sarfaraz Ahmad, son of Riaz Ahmad (38), resident of Laychayal village, lost his life.

“The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws. The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation,” the FO said.

Letter to UNSC chief

The text of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s letter to the United Nations Security Council president, released by the FO on Wednesday, reveals Mr Qureshi has not only raised the issue of deployment of additional troops in Occupied Kashmir and escalation of violations of the 2003 ceasefire understanding along the LoC, but has also noted that the false propaganda in India’s controlled media claiming that terrorists are ready to enter Occupied Kashmir indicates India’s intentions.

“There is.... a clear and present danger that India will provoke another conflict with Pakistan to divert attention from its recent actions in occupied Jammu & Kashmir,” the letter reads.

The FM has called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council under the agenda of ‘India-Pakistan question’ to consider the situation arising from the recent aggressive actions by India.

Iftikhar A. Khan from Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses Azad Jammu and Kashmir's legislative assembly on the occasion of Pakistan's Independence Day, in Muzaffarabad, on Wednesday. — AP

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday once again questioned the international community's silence on Indian-occupied Kashmir and warned that should ethnic cleansing of Muslims take place in the region, there would be severe repercussions in the Muslim world.

The premier's message came as the curfew and communications blackout imposed by New Delhi in occupied Kashmir entered its 12th day. Thursday (August 15) is also India's Independence Day, which is being observed as a black day across Pakistan to protest the brutalities and human rights abuses in occupied Kashmir.

Read: 'RSS ideology of Hindu supremacy will lead to suppression of Muslims in India and to targeting of Pakistan'

"In IoK, 12 days of curfew, presence of extra troops in an already heavily militarised occupied territory, sending in of RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] goons, complete communication blackout — with the example of Modi's earlier ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Gujarat," wrote the premier on his Twitter account, the display picture of which was a plain black image.

"Will [the] world silently witness another Srebrenica-type massacre and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in IoK?" he asked. "I want to warn the international community if it allows this to happen, it will have severe repercussions and reactions in the Muslim world, setting off radicalisation and cycles of violence."

The decision to mark India’s independence day as black day was taken at the National Security Commit­tee meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran, last week in the wake of the Indian move to revoke Art­icle 370 that gave occupied Kashmir an autonomous status and to split the held Valley into two territories.

Pakistan has strongly condemned India’s move to annex occupied Kashmir and the imposition of an unprecedented security lockdown in the area.

A day earlier, the premier celebrated Pakistan's Independence Day in Azad Jammu and Kashmir to express solidarity with Kashmiris on the Indian-ocucpied side. In a speech in its legislative assembly, he had warned India against any attack on AJK to divert attention from its human rights violations in the Himalayan region.

“Since the Kashmiris are equally battle-hardened and they also do not fear death, Modi should not harbour any illusion,” he said. “You [India] can no more keep the valiant Kashmiris enslaved.”

The prime minister drew parallels between Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party and India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its parent organisation RSS.

Read more: 'Every brick will be countered with a stone,' PM Imran warns Modi against action in AJK

Raising concerns about India's lockdown in occupied Kashmir, he said: "We are all fearful about what we will find out once the curfew is lifted in occupied Kashmir. What are they attempting to do?

The prime minister, during his addressm twice pledged to take up the responsibility of raising voice of the Kashmiris at every forum of the world: “I will be the ambassador of your cause across the globe.”

Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has expressed solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir on Pakistan's Independence Day. — INP/File

Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday expressed solidarity with people of Indian-occupied Kashmir, saying Pakistan will always stand by Kashmiris to counter India's "hegemonic ambitions" the way it has in the past.

"There can never be a compromise on #Kashmir," Gen Bajwa said in his Independence Day message to the nation, according to a tweet by the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

“Reality of #Kashmir was neither changed by an illegal piece of paper in 1947 nor will any other do it now or in future," he added, rejecting India's withdrawal of special status for occupied Kashmir.

Gen Bajwa said the Pakistan Army is "fully alive to the sanctity of Jammu & Kashmir" and will remain prepared to perform its part in line with its national duty for the cause of Kashmir.

 

"We shall stand in the face of tyranny, regardless of the cost," the chief of army staff vowed.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan had conveyed a similar message, saying Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a "strategic blunder" by downgrading occupied Kashmir’s status through the revocation of Article 370.

He also warned Modi that any action by India in Pakistan would be countered with a stronger response.

"This is my message to you: you take action and every brick will be countered with a stone," the premier told his Indian counterpart while addressing a special session of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly.

Corps Commanders meeting was held at GHQ in Rawalpindi to discuss India's decision to revoke Article 370. — Photo courtesy DG ISPR's official Twitter account

The military leadership "fully supported the government's rejections of Indian actions regarding Kashmir" and is "prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfil our obligations [to the Kashmiri people]," Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said on Tuesday after the conclusion of a Corps Commanders meeting in Rawalpindi.

"Pakistan never recognised the sham Indian efforts to legalise its occupation of Jammu & Kashmir through article 370 or 35-A decades ago, efforts which have now been revoked by India itself," Ghafoor said in a series of tweets from his official account.

 

"Pakistan Army firmly stands by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end. We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfil our obligations in this regard,” the DG ISPR quoted Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa as saying.

 

The meeting was held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi to discuss India's decision to revoke Article 370 of its constitution, stripping occupied Kashmir of its special status.

Revoking occupied Kashmir's special status

Yesterday, India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party stripped Kashmiris of the special autonomy they had for seven decades through a rushed presidential order. An indefinite curfew — that has entered its second day — was imposed in occupied Kashmir and elected leaders were put under house arrest.

By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in occupied Kashmir and settle there permanently. Kashmiris as well as critics of India’s Hindu nationalist-led government see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.

Furthermore, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also president of the BJP, moved a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories — one, Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and the other, Ladakh — to be directly ruled by New Delhi.

Pakistan had strongly condemned the move and vowed to "exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps" taken by India. A joint parliamentary session was summoned by President Arif Alvi so that the political leadership can devise future strategy with regards to occupied Kashmir.

Opposition lawmakers are seen standing in the parliament during the joint session. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Tuesday adjourned the joint session of the parliament briefly after opposition lawmakers caused a ruckus in the house.

The joint session of upper and lower houses was summoned by President Arif Alvi yesterday to decide Pakistan's future course of action in the wake of India's decision to strip occupied Kashmir of its special status under Article 370. But the session was disrupted soon after beginning by protest from opposition lawmakers who pointed out that the resolution, moved by Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Khan Swati condemning India's "illegal actions" in occupied Kashmir, did not specifically mention Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

The protest and chants during today's sitting continued even after Qaiser assured that Article 370 will be mentioned in the resolution, following which he adjourned the session.

Members of government went to the chambers of Leader of the Opposition of the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif in order to placate him and convince opposition members to return to the parliament.

Opposition protested because govt resolution didn't mention Article 370

After the session's adjournment , PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal spoke to reporters outside parliament building and said that the opposition had protested "with a heavy heart" because the resolution presented by the government did not mention the reason due to which the session had been called: the scrapping of Article 370. 

"All international laws recognise the border that separates Indian-occupied Kashmir and Azad Jammu and Kashmir as Line of Control. India tried to convert Line of Control into an international border, which is not a trivial matter.

"India took such a major step and the resolution does not even mention it; this is why opposition protested today," the PML-N leader said. He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan was not in attendance even though the opposition had chosen to forgo the matter of non-issuance of production orders [for arrested MNAs] to show unity and discuss the Kashmir issue.

He further said the the foreign minister, who is currently out of the country, should have returned by a chartered plane to brief the parliament on the situation even if it was for a day.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan also addressed opposition's protest in a conversation with media outside Parliament House and said: "We respect the opposition's wishes and will make the additions they are calling for because no controversy should be created on a resolution supporting the rights of Kashmiris."

"Kashmiris are looking towards Pakistan in this time of dire need," she added. "We would like them to know that they are not alone; Pakistan will continue its diplomatic support for their cause and raise the matter on all relevant forums.

"We are looking to raise the matter in the United Nations and ask the forum to look into India's violation of their conventions."

'Kashmir was and will remain disputed'

Meanwhile, Sharif met Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider in his chamber and said that Pakistan will continue to stand alongside Kashmiris.

"No matter what India does, Kashmir was and will remain disputed [territory]," Sharif said. He also expressed concern over the health of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Yasin Malik.

Haider briefed Sharif about the situation in AJK and said that the Indian forces had been targeting civilians by using cluster bombs from across LoC.

"If [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi thinks Kashmiris will give up their right to self-determination, he is mistaken," Haider said.

Parliament joint session

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Sharif, PML-N leaders Khawaja Asif and Ayaz Sadiq among other MNAs as well as senators were in attendance. AJK premier was also attending today's session.

Opposition parties had demanded that a joint session be convened soon after media broke the news of India's decision to repeal Article 370. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was the first opposition leader who had called for immediately summoning the joint session of parliament. He then flew to Islamabad from Karachi to participate in the joint session.

“This House may discuss the recent surge in unprovoked firing and shelling on civilian population and use of cluster bombs by Indian forces in Azad Jammu and Kashmir; deployment of additional troops and atrocities in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and recent developments,” said the agenda issued yesterday by the National Assembly Secretariat for the joint sitting.

Meanwhile, a Corps Commander meeting under the chairmanship of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is underway in Rawalpindi to discuss the deteriorating situation in occupied Kashmir and the Indian aggression along the Line of Control, reported Radio Pakistan.

India's presidential order

Yesterday, India's ruling BJP stripped Kashmiris of the special autonomy they had for seven decades through a rushed presidential order. An indefinite curfew — that has entered its third day today — was imposed in occupied Kashmir and elected leaders were put under house arrest.

By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in IoK and settle there permanently. Kashmiris as well as critics of India’s Hindu nationalist-led government see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.

Furthermore, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also president of the BJP, moved a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories — one, Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and the other, Ladakh — to be directly ruled by New Delhi.

 

Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump pictured at the White House on July 22. — AFP/File

 

WASHINGTON: A US delegation will reach Islamabad on Monday for talks with Pakistani officials, as the Afghan peace process intensifies and could lead to a presidential visit to the region, if it succeeds.

Also, US special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, arrived in Doha on Saturday to “resume talks with the Taliban”, he wrote in a tweet in Dari. “The Taliban have shown signs of a willingness to compromise. We are ready for a good deal,” he added.

Read: New round of US-Taliban talks opens in Doha: Taliban

In Washington, diplomatic sources told Dawn that Alice Wells, the Trump administration’s point-person for South and Central Asia, was coming to Islamabad for talks with Pakistani officials on Afghanistan and bilateral relations.

Trump may visit Islamabad if Afghan peace agreement is finalised

The sources said this would be a follow-up of the US-Pakistan consultations that began in Washington when Prime Minister Imran Khan visited and met US President Donald Trump at the White House on July 22.

They also said if the Doha talks led to an agreement between the United States and Taliban, President Trump might visit Afghanistan in September to finalise the deal.

And if Mr Trump visits Afghanistan, Pakistan would try to bring him to Islamabad as well to further strengthen the impression that relations between Islamabad and Washington are improving rapidly, according to the sources.

Although close allies once, relations between the United States and Pakistan deteriorated after May 2011, when the American intelligence discovered Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and a team of US Navy Seals took him out. But the ties began to improve late last year, when Pakistan persuaded the Taliban to hold direct talks with Washington.

Since then, the two sides have held eight rounds of talks in as many months and this weekend they began yet another. US-Pakistan ties got another boost last week, when President Trump met Prime Minister Khan and indicated in a joint news conference that he liked the new Pakistani leader and was looking forward to working with him to end America’s longest war.

Mr Trump also expressed his desire to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir at the White House news conference and reiterated the offer on Thursday, saying he would “certainly intervene” to help resolve the 70-year-old dispute, if asked to do so.

Much of the new-found warmth in the US-Pakistan friendship, however, revolves around the Afghan peace process. President Trump wants to “extricate” the United States from this “crazy war” before the 2020 US presidential election, and hopes that Pakistan will assist him in achieving this target.

Asked at a briefing if the Taliban could be trusted, the US leader said: “I don’t want to say if they can be trusted or not. Look, history, I would say, is not so good, but they don’t like us much either.”

He said in the last few months, he had brought the number of soldiers down very substantially and now all sides would get “a lot of advantages” by making a deal on Afghanistan.

“Let’s put this way: We’re more police than anything else, and that’s not for our soldiers,” said Mr Trump while explaining why he was so keen on withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan.

“I’ve said — I’ve said it a lot. We could win the war, if you look at it — and you can look at it any way you want — we can win the war in Afghanistan in less than a week,” he added.

“But I’m not looking to kill 10 million people. I’m not talking nuclear. I’m talking conventional. But we’d win that war in less than a week, and I have that as an option, always. But that’s what we’re not looking to do,” Mr Trump insisted.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2019

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