Qureshi urges int’l humanitarian bodies to push India for access to IOJ&K


NEW YORK, Sep 23 (APP):Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday urged international humanitarian organizations to seek access to the besieged Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) for an on-the-spot study of the situation and report to the world community and the United Nations of the human rights violations of Kashmiri people whose sufferings are compounded by the absence of phone and Internet services as well as shortage of medial supplies.

Addressing a press conference after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meetings with the heads of the London-based Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), he said such visits to conflict zones were part of their mandate and that they should insist that India allows their personnel to see the situation for themselves and undertake relief work in the occupied territory, now under six weeks of lockdown.

Otherwise, the foreign minister said, they should tell the world of the obstacles they were facing from India in undertaking their mandated humanitarian work.

India annexed the held Kashmir illegally on August 5, unleashing a reign of terror against protesting Kashmiris, filling up jails in Kashmir and transporting many more by military planes to a number of cities across India, holding them incommunicado.

Qureshi said it was also one of the mandated functions of ICRC to visit the prisoners in jails and report on their conditions.

“The ICRC must carry out its mandate,” the foreign minister said.

On its part, he said, Pakistan would allow the Amnesty International and the ICRC to visit Azad Kashmir and move around freely to make an assessment of the situation there. “We have nothing to hide,” he said.

The prime minister, who is here to participate in the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, spent a busy day meeting Secretary-General of Amnesty International Komi Naidoo, and ICRC President Peter Maurer– both leaders of humanitarian bodies said they were facing obstacle in visiting occupied Kashmir.

Imran Khan also met a key US lawmaker, Senator Lindsey Graham, who was one of the four senators to write a letter to President Trump about the deteriorating situation in occupied Kashmir.

In addition, he conferred with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative on Afghanistan, as well as a delegation of Kashmiris from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC).

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said thousands of Pakistanis, Kashmiris, Sikhs, human rights activists and participants from other Muslim countries had converged outside the stadium in Houston, where the Indian prime minister along with US President Donald Trump was addressing a gathering, condemning his illegal and unilateral steps on the IOJ&K.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan as an ambassador for the Kashmir cause would attend the UN General Assembly session. He would apprise the world body about the ongoing Indian atrocities, and Narendra Modi’s unjustified and illegal steps which violated the UN resolutions and the international laws, the minister added.

The prime minister, he said, would also apprise the United States president that the picture painted by Indian Prime Minister Modi over the IOJ&K was not correct because the situation had not been returning to normalcy rather it had become very critical. With Modi’s further illegal steps, the situation could further aggravate.

Qureshi said even saner voices were raised inside India where a segment of the society considered Modi’s acts as violation of the Indian constitution.

He said there was no military solution to the Afghan issue, which could only be resolved through politically negotiated settlement.

Pakistan would urge all sides to resume the dialogue process soon as further delay could create difficulties in securing peace in the war weary country and increase prospects for violence, he said, adding the Afghans, Afghan government representatives and Taliban should sit and find out a peaceful solution.

He said Pakistan had played its role which was acknowledged by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad during his meeting with the prime minister.

Khalilzad had appreciated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace and reconciliation process as a very constructive one, he added.

Qureshi to a query replied that a huge number of people had also submitted applications for holding a peaceful demonstration outside the UN building during Modi’s address and according to reports, they were given the permission.

About the prime minister’s engagements, the foreign minister said Ambassador Khalilzad had shared the outcome of his negotiations with the Taliban.

Later, Senator Lindsey Graham, one among the four senators who had written letters to President Trump over the worsening situation in the IOJ&K, also met the prime minister.

He was urged to keep raising the issue of innocent people of Kashmir who had been under complete lockdown for the last 48 days. The US Congress had an effective role to play for the people of Kashmir, he added.

The Kashmiris were facing hardships in getting medical treatment, the hospitals were running out of drugs, moreover, issuance of death certificates were being declined, the minister said, adding that he had already raised this issue with the head of World Health Organization.