Geneva, India and Pakistan are set to battle it out over Jammu and Kashmir at the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) on Tuesday, with Islamabad desperately trying to internationalise the abolition of special status of the state.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is expected to make a statement on Jammu and Kashmir, after which the Indian side will respond.
“Pakistan will speak definitively at the UNHRC Session in Geneva on the continued Indian atrocities in #Kashmir. As (UN) High Commissioner (for Human Rights) Michelle Bachelet said: The People of Kashmir must be consulted and engaged in any
decision-making processes,” Qureshi tweeted on Monday as he set out for Geneva to attend the 42nd session of the world body.
Bachelet commented on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in her inaugural speech at the session on Monday, expressing “deep concern” at the impact of “recent actions by the Government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris, including restrictions on Internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists”.
She went on to add, “While I continue to urge the Governments of India and Pakistan to ensure that human rights are respected and protected, I have 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.”
The Indian side, led by Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry Vijay Thakur Singh and expelled Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria, are here to counter Pakistan’s propaganda and block any adverse comments by the UNHRC.
To sensitise members of the world body, Singh and Bisaria on Monday held meetings with groups and representatives of various countries here. They explained the rationale behind the government of India’s decision to end the special status to Jammu and Kashmir granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and the state’s bifurcation into two Union Territories last month.
The government of India has said the step was taken to remove hindrances in overall development of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
A desperate Pakistan, after failing to garner support on the issue from countries individually, decided to rake it up at the UNHRC as part of its attempt to internationalise the matter.
India, while asserting that its decision is pure internal in nature, is expected to assert its well-articulated position that restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir were imposed to save human lives. It is expected cite the record that not a single civilian has died there in the last one month in any police action.
India is also likely to highlight how cross-border terrorism sponsored and nurtured by Pakistan has caused bloodshed and hampered development in Jammu and Kashmir.
After the abolition of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, India launched a diplomatic blitzkrieg, telling the major powers of the world as well as other nations about the rationale behind the decision.
Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, India has been telling the world that the abolition of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation into two Union Territories was aimed at ensuring all-round economic progress and social development here.
Modi has been telling this to leaders of various countries during his telephonic conversations as well as personal meetings. Recently, he did so in Vladivostok in Russia on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) last week, when he held bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has been touring several countries to convey India’s point of view. On Monday, he was in Singapore.
Pakistan’s move to take the issue to the UNHRC comes after facing rebuff from most of the countries to its attempts to rope in third-party intervention to make India revoke its decision of August 7.
It virtually pleaded with countries like the US and Russia and also tried to get support from the Gulf nations by using the Muslim card.
Pakistan has even tried to blackmail the world community with threats of war with India and by saying that it would not be able to help in international war against terrorism in Afghanistan.
However, all nations maintained that they would not like to get involved, with most saying that it is India’s internal matter and some others saying that any issue over Jammu and Kashmir should be resolved bilaterally by India and Pakistan.
The biggest shocker for Pakistan was the attitude of the Gulf countries and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), which have not fallen for Pakistan’s bait.
To add insult to Pakistan’s injury, United Arab Emirates (UAE), a major Islamic nation, instead of being critical of India, honoured Prime Minister Narendra Modi with ‘Order of Zayed’, the highest civil decoration of the country about two weeks back.
Similarly, Bahrain also honoured Modi with its highest civilian award.
Pakistan’s “all-weather friend” China, while holding that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, placated Islamabad by getting the UN Security Council last month to hold “informal” discussions on the developments in the state.
But Pakistan’s effort, through China, to make UNSC issue some statement against India, failed miserably as it was not done. Among the five Permanent members of the UNSC, the US, Russia, France and UK maintained, individually, that the matter should be discussed bilaterally between India and Pakistan.
US President Donald Trump, who has spoken to Modi and Khan over phone, has been shifting his position between offer of mediation “if both countries wanted” and asking Pakistan to reduce tensions. But India has asserted that no other country can have any say as affairs related to Jammu and Kashmir are the country’s internal matter.
In fact, Modi told Trump during their meeting late last month that issues related to Jammu and Kashmir were India’s internal matter and no other country needed to take the “trouble” of getting involved.
New Delhi has maintained that since Jammu and Kashmir has legally acceded to the Union of India in 1947, all matters related to the state are internal.
On abolition of the special status granted to the state in 1950 under Article 370, the government holds that the provision of the Indian Constitution was meant to be temporary in nature and ending of its applicability amounted to no violation of any kind.
India, in fact, has gone a step ahead by saying that any talks with Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir would be related to the territories of the state under illegal occupation of Pakistan.