Pakistan’s continued support for terrorists in Kashmir is the main challenge to the human rights of the people of the state, India said during three rounds of duelling statements by the two countries.
Indian diplomat Mayank Joshi dismissed Pakistan’s assertion that Kashmir was a disputed territory and said, “The misuse of this forum by making tendentious references to the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir constitutes a clear interference in the internal affairs of India.”
The current round of face off between the two neighbors began on Monday when Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi raised the Kashmir issue in a General Assembly Committee that deals with social and humanitarian affairs.
She said that a plebiscite under UN auspices should be held in Kashmir adding, “Generation after generation of Kashmiris have seen only broken pledges and ruthless oppression.”
Rattan Lal Kataria made a rebuttal on Tuesday, saying, “The people of Jammu and Kashmir exercised their right to self-determination at the time of India’s Independence and have since then regularly participated in free, fair and open elections at all levels.”
“These elections have been held under the scrutiny of international media and opinion, which has not faulted the electoral process,” he added. “The 65 percent record voter turnout in the 2014 election in Jammu and Kashmir, despite the threats from Pakistan-based terror groups, is a resounding response by our people.”
“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,” said Kataria, a Bhartiya Janata Party member of the Lok Sabha from Ambala in Haryana who is in India’s UN delegation.
“It is all the more ironical that these comments come from a country which is persisting with its illegal occupation of part of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir and consistently denying human rights of the occupied territory,” he added.
A Pakistani delegate, exercising the right of reply, said that Kashmir was internationally recognised as a “disputed territory” and questioned if the elections there were recognised by the UN. He also denied the accusations of terrorism.
Joshi, a First Secretary in India’s UN mission, responded, “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. In spite of this, India remains committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan in an atmosphere free from terror and violence.”
Joshi accused Islamabad of trying to distract the committee from the cause of self-determination for Palestine, which was the centerpiece if the discussion.
Extending an olive branch, he reiterated External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s offer of a dialogue in atmosphere free of terror. “Give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk,” she had said, he recalled.
Pakistan launched another round in reply essentially repeating the previous statement but its delegate did not respond to the offer of talks without terror.
Taking the floor in reply for the third round, Joshi explained how India fulfilled the requirements for ensuring self-determination.
“Relevant international principles reaffirm that self-determination is a right applicable to the peoples of non-self-governing colonies and trust territories,” he said. “Once exercised, this right enables people to freely choose their own form of government and for all segments of society to collectively participate.”
He added, “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 categorization, and use it to attempt to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of state.”
“Pakistan would do well to introspect before casting baseless allegations against India, lest it will be drawn into its own created vortex,” said.