United Nations: Reacting sharply to Pakistan raking up Kashmir issue at the UN, India has asserted that Islamabad's unabated support for terror groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir is the main challenge to safeguard human rights of its citizens in the state.
"Pakistan's continued support for terror groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir is the main challenge to protecting the human rights of our citizens in the State," First Secretary in the Indian Mission to the UN Mayank Joshi said in the Right of Reply here yesterday.
"In spite of this, India remains committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan in an atmosphere free from terror and violence," he said.
He was responding to Pakistan's envoy to UN Maleeha Lodhi raising the Kashmir issue and right of self-determination of the Kashmiris in the UN General Assembly's Third Committee debate on rights of people to self-determination.
In her statement to the committee, Lodhi had repeated Pakistan's call for UNSC resolutions to be implemented in the state and said fulfilling promise of self-determination to the Kashmiri people is "indispensable" to establishing lasting peace and stability in South Asia.
Joshi termed her comments as "totally out of context and baseless" and said the misuse of the UN forum by "making tendentious references to the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir constitutes a clear interference in the internal affairs of India."
Hitting back at Pakistan, visiting MP Rattan Lal Kataria rejected the "unwarranted" references to Kashmir, saying it is "ironical" that comments on Kashmir and self-determination "come from a country which is persisting with its illegal occupation of part of the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir and consistently denying human rights of the occupied territory."
"Pakistan should first stop human rights violations in Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir and ensure the right of self-determination for the victims before sermonizing others on it," he said in his statement.
Pakistan, exercising its Right of Reply, termed the allegations of terrorism against it as baseless.
"The purpose of Indian allegations is to force Pakistan to stop raising the issue of Kashmir at the UN," Minister in the Pakistan Mission Diyar Khan said.
He rejected India's remarks that Pakistan was occupying parts of Kashmir, saying this question should be left to the people of Kashmir.
"If only India would agree to the UN plebiscite, as we do, the exercise of free choice by the people of Jammu and Kashmir would clarify as to who is the real occupying force in Kashmir," Khan said.
Joshi retorted that Pakistan would "do well to introspect before casting baseless allegations against India, lest it will be drawn into its own created vortex."
He said there is no room for self-determination to be distorted and misinterpreted as a right of a group, on the basis of ethnicity, religion or racial criteria, or any other such categorisation, and use it to attempt to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of state.