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No comparison between J&K and PoK - India's response to UN's request for access to Kashmir

UN High Commissioner on Human Rights on Tuesday asked India and Pakistan to grant it "unconditional access" to both sides on the Line of Control to establish an "objective assessment" of the situation in Kashmir.

No comparison between J&K and PoK - India's response to UN's request for access to Kashmir
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Delhi: Reacting to comments by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, India said on Tuesday that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir had become a hub for the global export of terror.

Noting that the commissioner had received 'conflicting narratives on the cause for the confrontations', India pointed out - "It would be recalled that the present situation arose from the death of a self-acknowledged commander of the terrorist organization, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, who was wanted for several terrorist acts. It was further aggravated by sustained cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. Terrorism is the grossest violation of human rights and should be so acknowledged by any impartial and objective observer. The high number of casualties sustained by Indian security forces is a reflection of the tremendous restraint they have displayed in difficult circumstances."

The statement by Ministry of External Affairs further stated, "As regards the suggestion for a visit of a mission to both sides of the Line of Control, we would underline that there is no comparison between the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The former has a democratically elected government, while the latter has seen a Pakistani diplomat arbitrarily appointed as its head. The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is part of a pluralistic and secular democracy, where freedoms are guaranteed by an independent judiciary, an active media and a vibrant civil society. In contrast, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is administered by a ‘deep state’ and has become a hub for the global export of terror."

"The issue of an external mission was considered by the All-Party Conference on 12 August 2016 that met to discuss the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. It was unanimously felt that Indian democracy has all that is required to address legitimate grievances. Accordingly, an all-party delegation visited Srinagar. Despite cross-border terrorist infiltration that saw an encounter only yesterday, Government remains fully engaged in normalizing the situation as soon as possible," MEA added.

OHCHR had today asked India and Pakistan to grant it 'unconditional access' to both sides on the Line of Control to establish an 'objective assessment' of the situation in Kashmir.

In his opening statement at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, commissioner  Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said, "Two months ago, I requested the agreement of the Governments of India and Pakistan to invite teams from my Office to visit both sides of the Line of Control."

"We had previously received reports, and still continue to do so, claiming the Indian authorities had used force excessively against the civilian population under its administration. We furthermore received conflicting narratives from the two sides as to the cause for the confrontations and the reported large numbers of people killed and wounded. I believe an independent, impartial and international mission is now needed crucially and that it should be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides." 

He said Pakistan has already handed over a letter formally inviting an OHCHR team to the Pakistani side of the line of control, but in tandem with a mission to the Indian side.

"I have yet to receive a formal letter from the Government of India. I therefore request here and publicly, from the two Governments, access that is unconditional to both sides of the line of control," he said, as per PTI.

Meanwhile, in Islamabad Pakistan Foreign Office welcomed Zeid Ra'ad's statement and said, "The visit by the OHCHR team would help to end the culture of impunity which is prevailing for more than 68 years, in violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions."

Foreign Office said Pakistan will give access to any UN team to its controlled region.

"We note the High Commissioner's statement that he awaits a formal letter from India for access to Kashmir. We urge India to respond to this request," the Foreign Office said. 

(With Agency inputs)

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