‘Indian attempts to deny illegal occupation of Kashmir is a travesty of history’

GENEVA: The Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Tehmina Janjua, on Saturday said India’s attempts to deny its illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir is a “travesty of history”.

The Pakistani delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council also strongly rebutted India’s stance on India-held Kashmir (IHK) and also slammed the Indian state’s interference in Balochistan.

“India had introduced a bill in its own parliament seeking to penalise those who depict Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory. This was yet another pathetic effort to alter facts to conform to their own deluded sense of reality,” said Janjua.

Read: Kashmir: why talk to India?

The Pakistani delegate also drew the attention of the Council to the recent speech by a Kashmiri member of the Indian Parliament, who described the current Indian repression as “worse than that by Nazi forces”.

He had also said that if India had any respect of international law, India would end its occupation and let Kashmiris decide their own fate.

“We are not surprised by the remarks of the Indian leadership and its delegation, which would constitute open interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs, especially in Balochistan,” said Pakistan representative in the UN.

She added that India’s behaviour is consistent with its record of interfering in neighbouring countries.

“The sudden Indian focus on Balochistan is consistent with their playbook of seeking to distract attention from their repression in India-occupied Kashmir.”

Janjua pointed out Pakistan had avoided commenting on India’s internal human rights situation.

“Given the persistent, irresponsible flouting of international norms governing inter-state behaviour by India, we are constrained to point out the abysmal human rights record of the Indian government,” said Janjua.

“Pakistan has restrained itself from commenting on the unrelenting repression unleashed by the Indian state in many of its areas. We, instead, only address the situation in India-occupied Kashmir, as that is an international dispute acknowledged in repeated UN resolutions,” she added.

Uptick in violence

In the worst civilian violence to hit the restive region of Indian-held Kashmir since 2010, at least 90 Kashmiri civilians have been killed and thousands more injured in Indian-held Kashmir in clashes with security forces after the killing of a prominent Kashmiri separatist leader Burhan Wani, in a military operation on July 8.

Wani, a 22-year-old commander of Kashmir’s largest pro-independence militant group Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), was killed along with two other separatists during a gun battle with Indian government forces.

Wani joined the HM group at the age of just 15, and was viewed as a hero by many in Kashmir. The state’s former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted after his death that he had become the “new icon of Kashmir’s disaffected”.

Witnesses said tens of thousands attended his funeral despite a curfew imposed by Indian authorities, chanting independence slogans.

Also read: United States to urge India for holding talks with Pakistan over Kashmir issue

Indian government troops in IHK have reportedly fired live ammunition, and used pellet guns and tear gas to control anti-government protesters.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called an emergency meeting to discuss escalating violence in India-held Kashmir amid anti-India protests.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office has also condemned the violence in Indian-held Kashmir.

HM is one of several groups that for decades have been fighting around half a million Indian troops deployed in the region, calling for independence for Kashmir or a merger with Pakistan. Indian paramilitary soldiers patrol during curfew in Srinagar.

Kashmir has been divided between rivals India and Pakistan since 1947, but both claim the territory in its entirety.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting since 1989.

Violence had sharply declined in recent years following a major crackdown by the hundreds of thousands of Indian forces deployed in the region.

But a recent uptick in militant attacks has galvanised frustrated young Kashmiris, majority of whom deeply resent the Indian military’s presence.

Imran backs defiant police officer in Izhar controversy

KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan waded into the controversy over the arrest and release of Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan on Saturday when he threw his weight behind a recalcitrant police officer and accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of forcing the Sindh chief minister to suspend the officer.

However, the Sindh government made it clear that the prime minister had nothing to do with the suspension of Malir SSP Rao Anwar as Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had taken “this administrative decision” before speaking to the premier.

On Friday, Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izhar, who had got pre-arrest bail in 25 cases pertaining to listening to the provocative speeches of MQM supremo Altaf Hussain, was arrested under a similar FIR by SSP Anwar.

Both the prime minister and the chief minister expressed concerns over the manner in which the opposition leader was arrested, without any intimation to the speaker of the provincial assembly. The Sindh police chief suspended the SSP and Khawaja Izhar was released on a personal bond in the case.

The PTI chief took no time in using the opportunity to heap scorn on his main political rival, as he said in a statement that Mr Sharif was feeling so threatened by the Panama Papers inquiry issue that he was prepared to go to any length to appease the PPP and MQM.

Talking about the suspension of SSP Anwar — who is said to be close to former president Asif Ali Zardari as well as an influential property tycoon — Mr Khan slammed the prime minister for compelling the Sindh chief minister to get the MQM leader released and for suspending the police officer who “was simply acting according to the law and in line with his duties”.

He said such political interference was the reason why police in Sindh and Punjab were unable to do their job and effectively maintain law and order.

Without naming the PTI chief, a spokesman for the chief minister denied the impression “being given by certain political leaders” that SSP Anwar was suspended at the behest of the prime minister. “The CM took this administrative decision on his own and PM Sharif called him over the phone later.”

In an apparent reference to the action of SSP Anwar, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari promised on Saturday to depoliticise the police force as he believed that the partiality of law-enforcers could weaken peace efforts in Karachi.

Also on Saturday, Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Mustafa Kamal asked MQM-Pakistan chief Dr Farooq Sattar to resign from parliament and take to the streets to struggle for the release and recovery of the held and ‘missing’ workers in the same manner as he and his party had done for the release of Khwaja Izhar.

He said that his party would fully support their struggle if the MQM lawmakers resigned.

Khwaja Izhar appeared before a sessions court which was informed by the investigation officer of a hate speech case that he was released under Section 497(2) of the criminal procedure code for lack of evidence. The court gave 14 days to the IO to submit a final charge-sheet.

The IO submitted in his report that a man, called Khan Muhammad, had lodged a complaint that he had watched on social media a video in which the MQM chief was criticising the military establishment and giving remarks which were tantamount to sedition. The complaint also nominated Khwaja Izhar for allegedly facilitating the hate speech and applauding its content.

However, the IO said, no proof was found against the MQM leader.

Later, a reluctant Khwaja Izhar told the media that the Sindh CM had shown courage on Friday but only time would tell whether he would stick to his decisions or not.

Meanwhile, the suspension of SSP Anwar did not stop him from appearing on television talk shows to defend his action.

However, a top-ranking police officer told Dawn that the inquiry against SSP Anwar would also focus on his frequent appearance on television talk shows, which might “land him in a difficult position” because it was a gross violation of the code of conduct for police officers issued by Inspector General of Police A.D. Khowaja.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officer said that SSP Anwar arrested the opposition leader at the behest of “someone important”, as he came to know only on Friday that Khwaja Izhar was a “criminal and chief of target killers”.

In Karachi’s Malir district, a few protest demonstrations were held in favour of Rao Anwar. The demonstrators called for reinstatement of the suspended officer as he had restored law and order to the district.

17 soldiers killed as suspected militants attack army base in India-held Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Seventeen Indian soldiers were killed during an attack by suspected militants on an army headquarters in India-held Kashmir (IHK) on Sunday, the army’s northern command said.

“Four terrorists killed in counter-terrorist operation at Uri,” the command said on Twitter, referring to the Uri area, about 100 kilometres west of the troubled northern region’s main city of Srinagar.

An unknown number of heavily-armed suspected militants snuck before dawn into the army’s infantry base that houses hundreds of soldiers.

Earlier, a witness in Uri town said he could see smoke billowing inside the nearby infantry headquarters and continuous rounds of heavy gunfire could be heard.

The suspected militants first attacked a frontline base close to the Line of Control (LoC) before moving onto the headquarters, army spokesman Colonel S. D. Goswami said.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in a series of tweets that he had spoken to the region’s military and political leaders about the attack and had cancelled planned trips to Russia and the United States.

The Himalayan region has been in the grip of deadly unrest for more than two months, with protesting residents clashing almost daily with security forces, in the worst violence to hit the region since 2010.

At least 87 civilians have been killed and thousands injured in the protests against Indian rule, sparked by the killing of a popular Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani in a gun battle with soldiers on July 8.