In the ongoing thrust and parry between India and Pakistan following the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, New Delhi has again asserted that the decision is its domestic matter and that it shall not brook any interference in its internal affairs. At the same time, it has launched a frontal attack on Pakistan for continuing to harbour terrorists and foment terrorism.
India’s defence of the decision to abrogate Article 370 from J&K and consequent charges of human rights violations was made in the country statement delivered by it at the ongoing 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Tuesday. In doing so, it also sought to remind the world that it is the world’s largest democracy and that its “belief in our secular polity is unflinching.”
Leading the charge for India at the UNHRC debate was Secretary (East) Vijay Thakur Singh with India’s high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria, who was recently expelled by Islamabad, sitting by her side. Earlier in the session, Pak foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi as well as former Pak foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua had spoken.
Janjua who was appointed the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Diplomatic Outreach was specially sent to Geneva by Pak PM Imran Khan and spoke on Kashmir on behalf of the (OIC) Organisation of Islamic Cooperation). Later, Qureshi’s faux pas of referring to J&K as “the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir” while speaking to reporters shortly after delivering his speech at the UNHRC gave reason for mirth and sarcasm to the Indian media, particularly TV channels.
India in its strident defence of the decision to do away with J&K’s special status said it was its “sovereign decision, like other legislation passed by Parliament, is entirely internal to India.” She added, “No country can accept interference in its internal affairs, certainly not India.”
Pakistan found support from China on Kashmir with the Chinese delegate echoing Islamabad’s line on India having taken “unilateral action”. “We oppose any unilateral action” noted the Chinese statement while also asking that the “human rights of people in Kashmir should be respected and guaranteed”.
While the Pak foreign minister had accused India of violating human rights in J&K, India sought to turn the tables on Pakistan by saying “those who abet, finance and support terrorism in any form on territory under their control are in truth the worst violators of human rights.”
Noting that India has “suffered greatly on account of the activities by practitioners of state sponsored terrorism,” India called upon the UNHRC “to collectively take decisive and firm action against terror groups and their abettors who threaten the fundamental human right to life.”
India also charged Pakistan with “misusing this platform for malicious political agendas under the garb of human rights. Those who are attempting this speak on the human rights of minorities in other countries whilst trampling upon them at will in their own country. They cry victim when they actually are the perpetrators.”
Taking a swipe at the Pak delegation at the 42nd session, Ms Singh in her speech noted, “One delegation has given a running commentary with offensive rhetoric of false allegations and concocted charges against my country. The world is aware that this fabricated narrative comes from the epicentre of global terrorism, where ring leaders were sheltered for years. This nation conducts cross-border terrorism as a form of ‘alternate diplomacy’”.
Explaining its decision to revoke J&K’s special status, India said it would ensure that progressive measures taken by the government will be “fully applicable to our citizens in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh”. The Indian statement reiterated that the measure will help end gender discrimination, including on property rights and local bodies representation, among other things.
Driving the knife into Pakistan further using its right to reply, Vimarsh Aryan, first secretary with India’s Permanent Mission at the UN said: “We are not surprised at Pakistan’s hysterical statements with false, fabricated narratives aimed to politicize and polarize this forum.” The IFS officer from J&K went on to add, “Pakistan realises that our recent decision cuts the very ground from under its feet by creating obstacles in its continuing sponsorship of cross border terrorism against India. In this desperate mind-frame, some Pakistan leaders have even gone as far as to call for‘jihad’ and to encourage violence both inside Jammu and Kashmir and in third countries, in order to paint a picture of ‘genocide’ which even they know is far from reality.”
The statement made by Aryan on India’s behalf also attacked Pakistan for its dismal record on its treatment of minorities. “Pakistan has today pretended to speak as the voice of the global community on human rights. But the world cannot be fooled. Pakistan’s gory record speaks for itself. This rhetoric will not distract international attention from Pakistan’s persecution and elimination of religious and ethnic minorities—be it Christians, Sikhs, Shias, Ahmadiyas and Hindus.”
As for the National Citizens Register for Assam, India defended the move stating that it is “a statutory, transparent, non-discriminatory legal process mandated and monitored by the Supreme Court of India”.
Speaking earlier during the session, the Pak foreign minister with reference to Kashmir said that “basic and inalienable human rights are being trampled upon with impunity by India.” Qureshi said that “people of this occupied land are suffering systematic, and serial, violations of their fundamental freedoms.”
The Pak foreign minister also maintained that in the last six weeks, eight million Kashmiris “have been virtually caged by an illegal military occupation” and that India had “transformed Occupied Jammu and Kashmir into the largest prison on this planet with virtually no access to basic amenities and means of communication.”