Kashmir unrest sparks Pak-India diplomatic spat

ISLAMABAD: The fresh wave of violence triggered by the killing of a young Kashmiri separatist leader in the disputed Himalayan state has sparked a diplomatic spat between Pakistan and India.

Pakistan summoned India’s high commissioner to lodge a formal protest over human rights violations in the disputed region following the killing of Burhan Wani, the 22-year-old commander of Hizbul Mujahideen militant group. But New Delhi was quick to dismiss Islamabad’s protest as ‘interference in its internal affairs’.

Pakistan conveys ‘serious concerns’ over Kashmir killings to Indian high commissioner

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry summoned Indian envoy Gautam Bambawale to the Foreign Office and conveyed Pakistan’s serious concerns over the recent killings in Kashmir.

Indian-administered Kashmir continues to seethe since the killing in a police encounter of Wani, who was a known poster boy for the Kashmir separatist movement. Violence in the disputed territory has since claimed 30 lives. Pakistan strongly condemned Wani’s extrajudicial killing and has sought investigations into his and other civilians’ deaths in the disputed valley.

The foreign secretary told the Indian envoy that the use of excessive force against innocent civilians protesting peacefully over extrajudicial killings “is deplorable and a blatant violation of the right to life, right to freedom of expression and opinion, right to peaceful protest, right to peaceful assembly and other fundamental rights”, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

He denounced the firing by Indian security forces on peaceful protesters, resulting in the killings of 30 innocent people and injuring more than 300, 50 of them critically. “Such brutal use of force is not acceptable under any circumstances,” he added.

Chaudhry called for a fair and transparent inquiry against individuals responsible for these killings.

“It was emphasised that oppressive measures cannot deter the valiant people of the Jammu and Kashmir from their demand of exercising their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions,” the statement added.

The foreign secretary reiterated Pakistan’s call on the Indian government to fulfil its human rights obligations as well as its commitments under the United Nations Security Council Resolutions to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

In a knee-jerk reaction, India warned Pakistan late Monday not to meddle in its ‘internal matters’.

“We have seen statements from Pakistan on the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. They reflect Pakistan’s continued attachment to terrorism and its usage as an instrument of State policy,” India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a statement.

“Pakistan is advised to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbours.”

However, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria dismissed the Indian assertion insisting that Kashmir was a disputed matter. “The dispute of Kashmir has international recognition. It is not an internal matter of India. Such an assertion is a violation of UN Security Council’s Resolutions,” Zakria said.

He said the current situation in the Indian Kashmir, in particular and the indigenous movement for self-determination was a manifestation of what Kashmiris wanted.

“They are resisting against the Indian occupation of their territory and want to exercise their right to self-determination.

They want United Nations Security Council to implement the resolutions on Kashmir dispute and fulfil their promise.”

Pakistan has decided to launch an ‘aggressive diplomacy’ against India in wake of the current unrest in Kashmir.

A senior Foreign Office official told The Express Tribune that the government has directed all diplomatic missions, particularly those in key world capitals, to brief the host governments about the current situation in Kashmir.

The official while requesting anonymity said the ongoing unrest shows there has been indigenous freedom movement going on in Indian occupied Kashmir. He insisted while rejecting claims and accusations in the Indian media that Pakistan was stoking violence in the valley. Agencies