UPDATES WITH RALLIES HELD IN PAKISTAN, FOREIGN MINISTER'S REMARKS, EDITS THROUGHOUT
By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD (AA) - Pakistan on Thursday urged the international community to hold India accountable for human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.
In a message on the second anniversary of India’s annexation of the disputed region, Prime Minister Imran Khan said New Delhi has failed to break the will of the Kashmiri people.
"Today marks two years since India's illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK)," he said. "These actions were followed by an unprecedented military siege and restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people to perpetuate Indian occupation in the occupied territory."
He added that Kashmiris face unabated extrajudicial killings, custodial torture, and death, arbitrary detentions, burning and looting of houses to inflict collective punishment, and other worst forms of human rights abuses.
Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan but claimed by both in full. On Aug. 5, 2019, the Indian government revoked Article 370 and other related provisions from its Constitution, scrapping the country’s only Muslim-majority state with its autonomy. It was also split into two federally administered territories.
Khan accused India of bringing demographic changes to the disputed territory through domicile and land ownership laws.
He said India's "unilateral actions" are aimed at changing the region's demographic structure, and converting Kashmiris into a "minority in their own land."
He called the measures a blatant violation of international law, including the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions, and the Fourth Geneva Convention. "Pakistan, the Kashmiris, and the international community forcefully rejected these steps," he said.
The Pakistani prime minister reaffirmed his country's commitment to the Kashmir cause. He assured all possible assistance to Kashmiris until the realization of their right to self-determination and a just resolution of the dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
- 'Collective punishment'
In a separate message, President Arif Alvi said Kashmiris are being subjected to "collective punishment by Indian occupation forces," which have turned the territory into the "world's largest militarized zone."
"For the past 24 months, Kashmiris have suffered the worst human rights violations inflicted by Indian occupation forces, including a military siege and unprecedented restrictions on fundamental freedoms of Kashmiris," he said.
"To this day, the senior Kashmiri leadership remains incarcerated under trumped-up charges. Extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests and detentions also continue unabated."
He said Pakistanis stand by the "Kashmiri brothers and sisters" in their struggle, and will continue to highlight the dispute to the international community.
"Our ultimate objective remains the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute as per relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people," the president concluded.
Rallies to show solidarity with the Kashmiris were held in cities across Pakistan, including Azad Kashmir. The main rally was organized in the capital Islamabad and led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi from the Foreign Ministry to the parliament.
President Alvi, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, other Cabinet members, and lawmakers also joined the gathering.
The participants, carrying flags of Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, raised slogans in support of the Kashmiri cause.
"The entire Pakistani nation and Kashmiris reject the illegal and unilateral steps of Aug. 5, 2019," Qureshi said, urging the UN and the international community to take "immediate action" and stop India from "bringing demographic changes in the disputed valley."
"Two years ago, today, India acted illegally & unilaterally. With state-backed terrorism, the Modi regime is sparing no attempt to subjugate the Kashmiri people. But, their indomitable spirit cannot be broken in their just struggle for self-determination," the foreign minister said in a separate tweet.
"We will not relent in our moral & diplomatic support for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination in accordance w/ UNSC resolutions. The int’l community must hold [India] accountable for its crimes, to reverse its illegal & unilateral actions & cease all terrorism."