United Nations/Geneva—The deteriorating situation in India-held Kashmir has now made it crucial to establish an independent, impartial and international mission to assess the situation, the UN human rights chief said, while regretting India’s lack of response to his request for access to its controlled part of the disputed state.
UN rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council that he received a letter from the Government of Pakistan on Sept 9 formally inviting a team from his office to visit Azad Kashmir but only 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.
“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: in other words, the India-administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir,” Zeid said in remarks delivered on Tuesday at the opening session of HRC.
“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. The top UN official also said that they continue receiving reports of Indian forces using force excessively against civilian population under its administration.
The Indian government has been coming under growing pressure over the level of casualties in the region during protests against Indian rule, which broke out after the death of a popular rebel leader on July 8 during a gunbattle with soldiers.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Tehmina Janjua, on Wednesday welcomed the remarks by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding excessive use of force by Indian security forces in India-held Kashmir.
“Pakistan supported the position of the High Commissioner that an OHCHR team should visit India-occupied Kashmir to independently and impartially investigate the grave violations being perpetrated by Indian occupation forces over the past two months,” said Janjua.
She added the visit by the UN team would help address the culture of impunity which is prevalent in IHK.Ambassador Janjua said claims of restraint shown by India are simply preposterous. Meanwhile, India sharply rebutted to the UN Human Rights chief’s reference to India and Azad Kashmir. It said the whole State of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and “Pakistan remains in illegal
occupation of a part of our territory. The two cannot and should not be equated”.
“The neutrality of the phrase ‘Indian Administered Kashmir’ is, therefore, artificial,” it said, adding that Jammu and Kashmir has an elected democratic government, but that is not the case on the Pakistani side.