UN Human Rights Chief Raises Kashmir issue at Start of HRC Session

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  1. #1
    Sep 2018
    565 Post(s)
    3 Thread(s)

    UN Human Rights Chief Raises Kashmir issue at Start of HRC Session

    New Delhi: UN high commissioner for human rights Michele Bachelet welcomed the release of some political leadership and limited internet restoration in two Kashmir districts, but expressed concern that many still remained behind bars and called for the full reversal of the communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir

    At the start of the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Monday, Bachelet gave a “Global Human Rights Update” on the situation across the world, from China to Sri Lanka, Venezuela to the US.

    In her section on India, Bachelet mentioned that in the last one year in Jammu and Kashmir, “incidents of military and police violence against civilians continue, including use of pellet guns, as well as incidents related to militancy”.

    Kashmir and other human rights issue in India had also been part of Bachelet’s updates in previous sessions of the UNHRC.

    She observed that changes in the constitutional status and domicile rules of J&K have generated “deep anxiety”. The new media policy unveiled by the J&K administration have also constricted the space for criticism, she noted. “The space for political debate and public participation continues to be severely restricted, particularly since new media rules have prohibited vaguely defined ‘anti-national’ reporting,” she noted.

    During the changes in Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional status in August 2019, most of the mainstream politicians were taken into custody.

    Some of the big names, like former chief ministers Omar and Farooq Abdullah have been released, but several, including Mehbooba Mufti, are still in detention.

    “While I welcome the release of some political and community leaders, hundreds of people remain in arbitrary detention, with many habeas corpus petitions still pending – including those of many of Jammu and Kashmir’s political leaders,” stated Bachelet.

    On the recent tentative loosening of the restriction on the Internet in Kashmir, Bachelet said, “I welcome the initiatives to extend services to remote areas, and the recent conditional restoration of full Internet connectivity in two districts – which should be applied promptly to the rest of Jammu and Kashmir.”

    She also commented critically on the situation in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, noting that residents of POK “also have limited Internet access, creating difficulties in accessing education and other vital services”.

    “I remain concerned about ongoing restrictions to the rights to freedom of expression and association,” Bachelet added.

    The UN human rights chief stated that her office was “committed to continuing its engagement with both India and Pakistan, to uphold the rights of the Kashmiri people – which is the best way to prevent further tensions and conflict”.

    There has been no response from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs so far.The Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted Bachelet’s statement on Jammu and Kashmir, but did not mention her views on PoK.

    Last edited by The Viper; 15th September 2020 at 23:41.

  2. #2
    Sep 2018
    565 Post(s)
    3 Thread(s)
    India responds to UN human rights chief’s criticism of situation in Kashmir

    India on Tuesday responded to the UN human rights chief’s criticism of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir by saying it had revived grassroots democracy and pushed economic development in the region despite Pakistan’s efforts to derail this process.

    In her global human rights update on Monday, UN high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet had said that both “incidents of military and police violence against civilians” and incidents related to militancy were continuing in Kashmir, while legal changes to the Constitution and domicile rules were “generating deep anxiety”.

    Giving India’s response during the debate on Bachelet’s update on Tuesday, India’s permanent representative Indra Mani Pandey said since changes were made in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir in August last year, people in the region have been “enjoying the same fundamental rights as people in other parts of India”.

    “We have been able to revive grass root democracy and provide a new momentum to social and economic development, despite the challenge posed by [the] Covid-19 pandemic and persistent attempts by one country to infiltrate terrorists to derail this process by all possible means,” Pandey said.

    Though the envoy didn’t name the country, it was obvious he was referring to Pakistan, which India has blamed for supporting cross-border terrorism, especially in Jammu and Kashmir.

    Pandey also said the government’s efforts aimed at socio-economic development and ensuring better governance in Kashmir over the past year have “yielded unprecedented results”.

    He added, “By extending coverage of positive and affirmative federal legislations and repealing discriminatory or outdated local laws, the government has reaffirmed its commitment to delivering socio-economic justice to disadvantaged people in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, including women, children, minorities and refugees.”

    Bachelet had also said in her update that the “space for political debate and public participation continues to be severely restricted” in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly since new media rules prohibited vaguely defined “anti-national” reporting.

    She welcomed the release of some political and community leaders, but noted that “hundreds of people remain in arbitrary detention, with many habeas corpus petitions still pending – including those of many of Jammu and Kashmir’s political leaders”.

    She also welcome initiatives to extend services to remote areas and the conditional restoration of full internet connectivity in two districts, and said these measures “should be applied promptly to the rest of Jammu and Kashmir”.

    Bachelet noted that people in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have “limited internet access, creating difficulties in accessing education and other vital services”. She said she was also concerned about restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and association on the Pakistani side.

    “My office is committed to continuing its engagement with both India and Pakistan, to uphold the rights of the Kashmiri people – which is the best way to prevent further tensions and conflict,” she said.

    Bachelet had also criticised the situation in Kashmir in her global update in 2019, when she had also spoken out against the National Register of Citizens verification process in Assam, saying it had caused “great uncertainty and anxiety”.

    Pandey also said in his intervention that India remains committed to upholding all human rights and is of the view that the human rights agenda and discourse “must be pursued in a transparent and impartial manner with respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs of states”.

    India also exercised its right of reply to respond to statements by Pakistan, Turkey and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) during the debate on the UN high commissioner’s update.

    It said it has become “habitual” for Pakistan to malign India with false and fabricated narratives for “self-serving malicious purposes”, and that India and other countries don’t deserve an “unsolicited lecture on human rights from a country that has consistently persecuted its ethnic and religious minorities, is an epicentre of terrorism, has the distinction of providing pensions to individuals on UN sanctions list and has a prime minister who proudly admits training tens of thousands of terrorists to fight in Jammu and Kashmir”.

    “It’s not surprising that other relevant multilateral institutions have been raising serious concerns on its failure to stop terror financing and lack of effective actions against all terror entities in Pakistan,” the Indian representative said in the reply.

    Pakistan’s “nefarious designs” also continue in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and its “zeal to reassert its theocratic ideology” has ensured that “ethnic and religious minorities have no future through systematic persecution, blasphemy laws, forced conversions, targeted killings, sectarian violence and faith-based discrimination”, The Indian representative said.

    India also pointed out that “thousands of Sikh, Hindu and Christian minority women and girls have been subjected to abductions, forced marriages and conversions in Pakistan”.

    India also noted that Pakistan has been “abusing” various UN human rights mechanisms and platforms to raise issues that are “extraneous to the mandate” of the Human Rights Council and relate to the internal affairs of India.

    New Delhi also rejected the OIC’s reference to Jammu and Kashmir and said the organisation has no locus standi to comment on India’s internal affairs. The OIC has also allowed itself to be “misused by Pakistan”, India said in its reply. India also advised Turkey to “refrain from commenting on the internal affairs of India”.


  3. #3
    Oct 2004
    2928 Post(s)
    22 Thread(s)
    Questions should be asked of India also:


    A delegation of the European Parliament members has raised concern over the issues related to human rights, as Pakistan urged them not to suspend its Generalized Schemes of Preference (GSP) Plus status, saying otherwise extremist forces would be proactive in the country.

    A four-member European Union (EU) Parliamentary Delegation for South Asia Relations led by Nicola Prokasini, member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, is visiting the country before the EU's review decision on the fate of GPS Plus status in the month of February.

    The delegation comprised European Parliament Vice President and Rapporteur on the GSP Regulation Heidi Hautala, Member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs Luis Garicano and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs Tomas Zdechovsky.

    In the light of this reasoning, the delegation’s visit is very significant because the GSP Plus status is crucial for the financial interests of the country.

    Pakistan is earning $7 billion from export through GSP Plus every year. On the other hand, the EU linked the extension of status with the improvement of conditions in certain issues related to human rights.

    The delegation held separate meetings with Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem and Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan on Thursday and discussed matters of mutual interest.

    A senior official in the law ministry told The Express Tribune that the EU delegation mainly raised issues related to the protection of journalists, religious extremism, misuse of blasphemy laws, and forced conversion in some parts of the country.

    It is learned that the Pakistan authorities urged the delegation that the country should not be abandoned but their engagement should continue otherwise extremist forces would be proactive in the country. They informed that no one has so far been executed in any blasphemy case.

    The AGP, who is also the head of the Treaty Implementation Cell, apprised the delegation of the steps undertaken by the federal and provincial governments for effective enforcement of various international treaties and conventions relating to the welfare of children, labourers, and minorities.

    A senior official in the AGP office revealed that the attorney general apprised them of the government's steps to control misuse of blasphemy laws in the country.

    He also stated that Pakistan always took coercive steps against elements who misbehaved with minorities.

    Matters relating to overall criminal justice reforms as well as other legislation including bills for the protection of journalists and anti-torture bill were also discussed in the meeting.

    In a meeting, the AGP also apprised the delegation about various judgments and orders passed by the Supreme Court about protecting the rights and interests of the members of religious minorities and their places of worship.

    Meanwhile, Barrister Naseem reassured the delegation of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) firm stance to introduce legal reforms in the country.

    According to the ministry’s spokesperson, the two sides discussed the promotion of bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and the European Union during the meeting.

    Naseem said that Pakistan and the EU have common interests. "We want a balanced relationship," he said.

    He also apprised the delegation of the atrocities in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

    The minister while referring to the EU's Disinfo Lab operation launched in 2005, which proved that India had used fake EU letter pads and IDs, said it was a criminal act and demanded that India should be blacklisted for such actions. India should also be blacklisted for fraud from the Financial Action Task Force and the GSP Plus forums, he added.

    The issues pertaining to legislation in Pakistan were discussed during the meeting as the law minister briefed the delegation regarding anti-rape law. Issues related to freedom of media and legislation regarding the rights of minorities were also discussed.

    Referring to the anti-rape law, the federal minister said it would be tabled in a joint sitting of parliament in the next few days. Under the law, no one would be able to discuss the role of women, he added.

    He said that the government had abolished the two-figure test as it was inhumane. “Modern technology will be used to punish the perpetrator under the anti-rape law,” he added.

    Read IHC seeks report on missing journalist

    He said that under the previous law, the video recorder had to appear in court as evidence, which would not be the case under the new law. He said that the government was completely reforming Pakistan's justice system.

    He said that the law ministry also introduced Journalist Protection Bill, adding that the government believed in freedom of the press but no one would be allowed to spread fake news.

    Barrister Maleeka Bukhari said that the rights of minorities were very important for the government. She said there was no room for those who persecute minorities, adding that the ruling PTI believed in freedom of the press and no journalist had gone missing during its tenure.

    Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood welcomed the newly proposed legislation for GSP Plus status for post-2023 by the European Commission.

    According to a statement issued on Thursday, the adviser told the delegation during a dinner hosted in their honour that Pakistan had already acceded to the six new conventions under the proposed new GSP Regulation.

    The dinner was also attended by Androulla Kaminara, head of the EU delegation in Islamabad, as well as ambassadors of the EU member states to Pakistan.

    Speaking at the occasion the commerce adviser reaffirmed that Pakistan was committed to the full implementation of the UN conventions related to GSP Plus, however, it also wants European partners to be mindful of its challenges.

    He appreciated the European member states for their support for Pakistan in securing the GSP Plus status and its continuity in the last three reviews conducted by the European Parliament and hoped that the forthcoming fourth biennial review would also be successful.

    Read Human rights body rejects ‘media-gag law’

    The adviser said that the visit of the delegation could not be timed better as the Fourth Biennial Review of GSP Plus to Pakistan was in process and would be completed in the coming months.

    He noted that the EU was one of the largest trading and investment partners of Pakistan.

    In FY 2020-21, total bilateral trade with EU-27 was $10.88 billion.

    The adviser reiterated that GSP Plus had a positive synergy with the government's social agenda.

    It has helped Pakistan in the attainment of a level-playing field in the European markets on one hand and acted as a catalyst to undertake necessary social reforms, on the other.

    Kaminara appreciated the whole of the government approach and the institutional mechanism put in place by Pakistan for the implementation of the various commitments under GSP Plus.

    Procaccini also appreciated the progress made by Pakistan despite challenges on its commitments pertaining to human rights, environment and climate change, labour rights etc under GSP Plus.

    The delegation head reiterated the EU's support for promoting universal values and creating an enabling environment for the implementation of 27 UN Conventions in the beneficiary countries, including Pakistan.

    (With input from APP)

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  4. #4
    Mar 2021
    1 Post(s)
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    British parliament expresses alarm at human rights abuses, fake encounters in Indian-occupied Kashmir

    Britain's House of Commons on Wednesday expressed alarm at human rights violations, including fake encounters by Indian forces, in Indian-occupied Kashmir and sought a response from the Indian High Commission over the maltreatment of Kashmiri citizens.

    As many as 28 MPs of the British Parliament have written a joint letter to the Indian High Commission, seeking its response to reports of flagrant abuses of human rights in the occupied territory.

    The letter questioned the killings of "innocent Kashmiris" at the hands of Indian forces who labelled the unarmed citizens as suspected terrorists before mowing them down.

    "Those who are killed are mostly normal citizens," the letter says.

    The lawmakers also expressed shock at the incarceration of prominent rights activist Khurram Pervez by Indian forces and sought an explanation for his detention.

    "Khurram Pervez is not a terrorist but a defender of human rights".

    Personnel from the National Investigation Agency had arrested Parvez in Srinagar on Nov 22. They had also confiscated Parvez’s mobile phone, laptop and some books, along with his cell phone. “They said it’s a case of ‘terror funding’,” his wife later informed journalists.

    Parvez, 42, is the programme coordinator for a widely respected rights group in the disputed territory, the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, and chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD).

    The MPs also pointed out that more than 2,500 innocent people had been detained in the last two years in the occupied territory.

    Hundreds of people have been arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) — a vaguely worded law that effectively allows people to be held without trial indefinitely — in the Indian-occupied territory since 2019, when New Delhi cancelled the region’s partial autonomy and brought it under direct rule.

    Almost half of them are still in prison and convictions under the law are very rare.


  5. #5
    Oct 2019
    2 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    UN experts call for release of Kashmiri rights activist

    WASHINGTON: Authorities in India must stop targeting prominent Kashmiri activist Khurram Parvez, a group of independent UN human rights experts said on Wednesday, while calling for his immediate release from detention.

    Mr Parvez has documented serious human rights violations in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir, including enforced disappearances and unlawful killings and has faced reprisals reportedly for sharing information with the UN. The Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested him in November on charges related to conspiracy and terrorism.

    The rights experts, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, issued the statement after reviewing available information about the case.

    A UN news report also quoted the experts as urging Indian authorities to repeal the laws that target Kashmiri civilians and human rights activists.

    “We are concerned that one month after Mr Parvez’s arrest, he is still deprived of liberty in what appears to be a new incident of retaliation for his legitimate activities as a human rights defender and because he has spoken out about violations,” the rights experts said.

    “In view of this context of previous reprisals, we call on the Indian authorities to immediately release him and ensure his rights to liberty and security.”

    The UN agency reported that Mr Parvez was detained at the Rohini Jail Complex in Delhi, which the experts described as among “the most overcrowded and unsanitary prisons in the country, posing immediate risk to his health and safety, in particular from Covid-19.

    Mr Parvez was arrested on Nov 22 under Indian counter-terrorism legislation, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

    Introduced in July 2019, the Act allows the authorities to designate any individual as a terrorist without the requirement of establishing membership or association with banned groups. The rights experts said the UAPA has resulted in a “worrisome rise” in the number of arrests in India, and especially in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the UN news agency reported.

    “We regret that the government continues to use the UAPA as a means of coercion to restrict civil society, the media and human rights defenders (and their) fundamental freedoms,” the experts said.

    “We therefore once again urge the government to bring this legislation in line with India’s international legal obligations under human rights law.”

    Indian authorities produced Mr Parvez in a court in Delhi on Nov 30 and Dec 4 when it was decided to transfer him from NIA to judicial custody. The NIA Special Court is meeting on Thursday to decide on another extension of his detention for a further 90 days. If convicted, he could face up to 14 years in prison, or even the death penalty.


  6. #6
    Oct 2004
    2928 Post(s)
    22 Thread(s)
    Indian forces killed 355 people, injured 484, arrested 1,686 and burnt 135 properties to ashes in occupied, besides conducting 467 search operations in Kashmir during the year 2021.

    According to All Parties Hurriyet Conference’s (APHC) report on Indian atrocities during the past year, documenting the situation of Kashmiris in the occupied territory.

    APHC representatives also held a protest outside the Indian High Commission against their atrocities and chanted anti-India slogans, while calling on the international community to intervene.

    The protesters said that another year was coming to an end, but Indian atrocities could not be stopped. They said that the Indian forces started massacre of Kashmiris after August 2019, turning the Muslim-majority population into a minority, adding that domiciles were being issued for the same purpose as well.

    It is pertinent to mention here that so far, 4.5 million non-indigenous people have been issued Kashmiri domiciles.

    The protesters said that in the past 48 hours, nine Kashmiris were martyred in fake encounters.

    They also demanded that the Kashmir dispute be resolved immediately in accordance with United Nations (UN) resolutions, and demanded the government of Pakistan convene a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the current situation in Kashmir.


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  7. #7
    Oct 2019
    2 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    HRW says India adopted discriminatory laws towards Muslims, minorities

    The Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its annual report criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in India for adopting discriminatory policies against minority communities, including Muslims.

    In its World Report 2022, the HRW said, “This, coupled with the vilification of Muslims by some BJP leaders and police failure to take action against BJP supporters who commit violence, emboldened Hindu nationalist groups to attack Muslims and government critics with impunity.”

    The Indian government cracked down on activists, journalists, peaceful protesters, and even poets, it added.

    The HRW said actors, and businesses increasingly risked politically motivated harassment, prosecutions and tax raids. “Authorities shut down rights groups using foreign funding regulations or allegations of financial irregularities,” it said.

    About Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), it said, "Allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings persisted with the National Human Rights Commission registering 143 deaths in police custody and 104 alleged extrajudicial killings in the first nine months in 2021."


    The HRW said Pakistani authorities expanded the use of “draconian sedition and counterterrorism laws to stifle dissent” as gendered and religious minorities continued to face persecution.

    “In 2021, the Pakistan government intensified its efforts to control the media and curtail dissent. Authorities harassed, and at times detained, journalists and other members of civil society for criticising government officials and policies.”

    According to the report, members and supporters of opposition political parties also faced repression. “Women, religious minorities, and transgender people continue to face violence, discrimination, and persecution, with authorities failing to provide adequate protection or hold perpetrators to account," it said.

    Human rights defenders estimate that roughly 1,000 women were killed in so-called honour killings every year, it said, adding that parliament did not pass a bill that sought to criminalise domestic violence.

    According to a Pakistani human rights organisation, the Centre for Social Justice, at least 1,855 people were charged under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws between 1987 and February 2021.

    “Women from religious minority communities remain particularly vulnerable to forced marriage. The government has done little to stop such marriages,” it added.


    HRW criticised US President Joe Biden and other Western leaders for a weak defense of democracy and for failing to meet challenges from the climate crisis and Covid-19 pandemic to poverty, inequality and racial injustice.

    In contrast to what Human Rights Executive Director Kenneth Roth described as former US president Donald Trump's "embrace of friendly autocrats", Biden took office in January 2021 with a pledge to put human rights at the center of his foreign policy.

    "But he continued to sell arms to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel despite their persistent repression," Roth wrote in Human Rights Watch's annual World Report, released on Thursday.

    "Other Western leaders displayed similar weakness in their defense of democracy," Roth wrote, naming French President Emmanuel Macron and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


  8. #8
    Mar 2016
    98 Post(s)
    1 Thread(s)

    A London-based law firm filed an application with British police on Tuesday seeking the arrest of India’s army chief and a senior Indian government official over their alleged roles in war crimes in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK).

    Law firm Stoke White said it submitted extensive evidence to the Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes Unit documenting how Indian forces headed by Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane and Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah were responsible for the torture, kidnapping and killing of activists, journalists and civilians.

    The law firm’s report was based on over 2,000 testimonies taken between 2020 and 2021. It also accused eight unnamed senior Indian military officials of direct involvement in war crimes and torture in IoK.

    India’s Foreign Ministry said it was not aware of the report and refused to comment. The Ministry of Home Affairs also did not comment.

    “There is strong reason to believe that Indian authorities are conducting war crimes and other violence against civilians in Jammu and Kashmir,” the report states, referring to territory that is part of the Himalayan region.

    The request to London police was made under the principle of “universal jurisdiction” which gives countries the authority to prosecute individuals accused of crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world.

    The international law firm in London said it believes its application is the first time that legal action has been taken abroad against Indian authorities over alleged war crimes in IoK.

    Hakan Camuz, director of international law at Stoke White, said he hoped the report would convince British police to open an investigation and ultimately arrest the officials when they set foot in the UK. Some of the Indian officials have financial assets and other links to Britain.

    “We are asking the UK government to do their duty and investigate and arrest them for what they did based on the evidence we supplied to them. We want them to be held accountable,” Camuz said.

    The police application was made on behalf of the family of Zia Mustafa, a jailed Pakistani freedom fighter whom Camuz said was the victim of an extrajudicial killing by Indian authorities in 2021, and on the behalf of human rights campaigner Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, who was allegedly tortured before his arrest last week.

    Kashmiris and international rights groups have long accused Indian troops of carrying out systematic abuse and arrests of those who oppose rule from New Delhi. Rights groups have also criticised the conduct of freedom groups, accusing them of carrying out human rights violations against civilians.

    In 2018, the UN human rights chief called for an independent international investigation into reports of rights violations in Kashmir, alleging “chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces”.

    India’s government has denied the alleged rights violations and claims such claims are "separatist propaganda" meant to demonise Indian troops in the region.

    The law firm’s investigation suggested that the abuse has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Its report also included details about the arrest of Khurram Parvez, the region’s most prominent rights activist, by India’s counterterrorism authorities last year.

    Parvez, 42, worked for the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, which has written extensive reports about Indian troops’ use of violence and torture.

    Other accounts in the report discuss journalist Sajad Gul, who was arrested earlier this month after he posted a video of family members and relatives protesting the killing of a freedom commander.

    Human rights lawyers have increasingly used the universal jurisdiction principle to seek justice for people who were unable to file criminal complaints in their home countries or with the International Criminal Court, located in The Hague.

    Last week, a German court convicted a former Syrian secret police officer of crimes against humanity for overseeing the abuse of thousands of detainees at a jail near Damascus a decade ago.

    Camuz said he hoped the request to British police seeking the arrest of Indian officials will be followed by other legal actions also focusing on IoK.

    “We are sure this is not going to be the last one, there will probably be many more applications,” he said.

  9. #9
    Oct 2004
    2928 Post(s)
    22 Thread(s)
    After curtailing basic freedoms, neighboring India’s appetite for violating Kashmiri rights has not been satisfied yet as it is now actively depriving the youth of occupied Jammu and Kashmir from seeking higher education opportunities in Pakistan.

    The Narendra Modi led Indian government has trampled upon every right of the Kashmiris ever since the abolition of Article 37, back in August of 2019, in violation of the bilateral agreements with Pakistan and the latest addition is creating unnavigable hurdles for students trying to further their education in a country where they feel safer.

    Asadullah Mir, who is a student from Srinagar and declined to give his real name, said that he wanted to go to Lahore to pursue an education in medicine. “I applied for admission online to a well-known medical university in Lahore and was accepted,” he informed.

    However, the roadblocks came when the Indian Home Ministry refused to issue a no objection certificate (NOC) to apply for a Pakistani visa. However, Mir is not alone in this ordeal.

    “Three of my friends were issued visas by the Pakistan High Commission a few weeks ago, but the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has now declined to give them an NOC for traveling to Pakistan,” he despondently narrated about their plight. Mir, who thought that the NOC rejection was the end of it, received a rude awakening when investigative agencies started harassing him.

    “People from various agencies started badgering me with questions like why do you want to go to Pakistan for an education?” Mir said. The appeal to study in Pakistan is aided by the rising anti-Muslim sentiment in India which is down to Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) aims of turning secular India into a Hindutva state. Abdullah, a student from Srinagar currently in the country, while talking to the Express Tribune about the pull of Kashmiri students seeking an education in Pakistan, said that being Muslim played a huge role in the decision.

    “Pakistan being an Islamic country, the environment of educational institutions here is very different from India,” he informed. When asked about what students have to go through to come to Pakistan, he stated: “Students are intimidated and ridiculed in different ways. They have to wait for hours outside offices just to get permission to come to Pakistan.”

    Abdullah added that the ridicule had increased to such an extent that now the dream of Kashmiri youth to study in Pakistan was dying.

    Ravi Nitish, the convener of Aghaz Dosti, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) promoting friendship between Pakistan and India, said, "if Kashmiri students are being barred from going to Pakistan for education it is depressing, it should not happen.” Referring to the plight of the Kashmiri students, Nitish said that they should have the right to go get an education wherever they want. He was of the view that since Kashmir was the leading cause of tension between the two countries, investigative agencies keep looking for a reason to ban movement.

    Nitish further opined that if there is an agreement between the two countries to issue visas for trade, religious tourism, and medical treatment, then instead of stopping Kashmiri students, Pakistan and India should also issue visas to each other for educational purposes. “The major universities of the two countries should reach an agreement, and if the governments think this could lead to a security issue, it should be done at the government level,” he suggested in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune.


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