Pakistan FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi likens ongoing clampdown in disputed Kashmir to the genocide that took place in Rwanda and Srebrenica, the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in Myanmar, and 2002 Gujarat pogrom.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addresses the UN Human Rights Council on September 10, 2019 in Geneva.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addresses the UN Human Rights Council on September 10, 2019 in Geneva. (AFP)

Pakistan's foreign minister demanded on Tuesday that the UN launch an international investigation into the situation in India-administered Kashmir, warning that a "genocide" could be looming in the Muslim-majority region.

"The people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir are apprehending the worst," Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, adding, "I shudder to mention the word genocide here, but I must."

India imposed a military clampdown on Kashmir on August 5 to prevent protests as New Delhi revoked the disputed region's limited autonomy. Mobile phone networks and the internet are still cut off in all but a few pockets.

"For the last six weeks, India has transformed Occupied Jammu and Kashmir into the largest prison on this planet," Qureshi insisted.

"The forlorn, traumatised towns, mountains, plains and valleys of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir reverberate today, with the grim reminders of Rwanda, Srebrenica, the Rohingya, and the pogrom of Gujarat," he said.

The minister accused India of having arrested more than 6,000 people without due process. Many had been "shipped to jails all over India," he said, citing reports that Indian troops had "shamelessly tortured people in public."

Syria-like Commission of Inquiry

The minister urged the council to heed recommendations by UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet and her predecessor Zeid Raad al Hussein to launch an international investigation into the situation in Indian Kashmir.

In several reports, the UN rights chiefs have requested the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (COI), which is one of the UN's highest-level probes, generally reserved for major crisis like the Syrian conflict.

There was no immediate comment from India in the council.

India and Pakistan both rule parts of Kashmir while claiming it in full. They have fought two wars over the region and their forces regularly trade fire across a 740-km Line of Control (LoC), which is the de facto border.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir's mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels' cause against Indian rule. Nearly 100,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown since 1989. 

Willing to let UN commission in Kashmir

The council must "take steps to bring to justice the perpetrators of human rights violations of the innocent Kashmiri people, and in this context, constitute a Commission of Inquiry," Qureshi said.

"If India has nothing to hide, it should allow unhindered access to the Commission of Inquiry," he insisted. Pakistan was willing to provide access to its side of the so-called LoC, he added.

Pakistan is expected to present a resolution to the council for consideration by the end of the 42nd session on September 27.

At the opening of the council session on Monday, Bachelet once again voiced alarm at the situation in Kashmir.

She had "appealed particularly to India to ease the current lockdowns or curfews, to ensure people's access to basic services, and that all due process rights are respected for those who have been detained," she said.

"It is important that the people of Kashmir are consulted and engaged in any decision-making processes that have an impact on their future," she added.

Source: AFP