MUZAFFARABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari strongly criticised the international community Monday for “turning a blind eye” to India’s savagery in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), saying it was “not wise to sacrifice timeless principles for short-term interests”.
“Today, I ask the world if a country can be allowed to renege on its solemn commitments to the United Nations, break its own promises and blatantly violate international law just because they want to,” he said in an address to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly.
“I must emphasise here that the commitments under the UN Security Council resolutions are sacrosanct. They are neither surveilled to the whims of a jingoistic political party, nor diluted by the passage of time.”
The foreign minister’s comments come as a G20 tourism working group meets in IIOJK in the first international event in the region since its annexation by India on August 5, 2019.
He said India was “misusing” its position as the G20 chair by hosting the event in the occupied territory, which was recognised as disputed under international law. “This is yet another display of India’s arrogance on the world stage.”
He noted that IIOJK had become an open-air prison with thousands of Kashmiri Muslims killed, disappeared or blinded while their lands were confiscated and properties bulldozed, and their culture disintegrated.
The mayhem was continuing under India’s draconian laws, he said, which allowed the occupying forces’ officials impunity for their crimes. “This wretched perpetual and systemic Indian barbarism not just violates international law, it makes a mockery of the accepted norms of fundamental human rights.
“One cannot wax lyrical about international law and the United Nations Security Council resolutions in Europe in the European context, and then turn a blind eye to the violation of the same international law in the Kashmiri context,” he iterated.
The foreign minister emphasised that for Pakistan, resolving the Kashmir dispute was not a matter of choice but of duty.
“My presence here today is a testimony of our nation’s intergenerational support and lasting commitment to the Kashmir cause,” Bilawal told the assembly.
He said that while Pakistan wanted good relations with all its neighbours including India, they could not be achieved through “dispute denialism”. Saying that India remained hostile, he called on the neighbouring country to take steps conducive to dialogue.
“There is a clear distinction between terrorism and a people’s genuine quest for freedom. Terrorism cannot be and should not be used as an excuse to deny the Kashmiri people their fundamental rights and their fundamental freedoms,” he asserted.
He appealed to the international community to urge India to restore occupied Kashmir’s special status that it had prior to August 5, 2019; implement the relevant UNSC resolutions; assure that it will not change the occupied territory’s demographic composition and not allow non-Kashmiris to acquire property or residency; halt its human rights violations; repeal its draconian emergency laws and withdraw its heavy military presence through Kashmiri cities, towns and villages; provide unhindered access to UN, OIC and human rights organisations and international media to investigate the situation.
“I assure the Kashmiri people of Pakistan’s unstinted moral, diplomatic and political support. We have stood by them for decades, and I assure you that we will stand for as long as it takes our Kashmiri brethren to achieve their legitimate rights,” Bilawal concluded.