India exploited COVID-19 pandemic to change IIOJK’s demography: Shireen Mazari

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India exploited COVID-19 pandemic to change IIOJK's demography: Shireen Mazari

By Shabbir Hussain

ISLAMABAD, Feb 24 (Diplomatic Star): Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari on Wednesday said that India has exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to accelerate the pace of its colonization project in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK).

“India consolidated its illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019 before the world,” she said.

The minister said that global human rights landscape presents a bleak picture of so-called Indian secular state where the abuses and impunity are writ large especially in occupied territories.

“Some of the leading Human Rights advocates continue to prioritize political, strategic and commercial interests over human rights values and principles.” she said.

Addressing virtually the 46th session of UN Human Rights Council, she said last year, she had presented before this House about the plea and the petition of the Kashmiri people where India is deploying unprecedented demographic engineering, in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, to convert the Muslim majority into a minority in the occupied region.

Highlighting the ongoing Indian atrocities in Kashmir, she said that over 3 million non-Kashmiris have been illegally granted Kashmiri citizenship; allowed permanent settlement; purchase of properties and lands and apply for local jobs in the occupied territory.

“India is usurping Kashmiri people’s inalienable right to self-determination in willful breach of the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions, and international law. This ‘Final Solution’, as the fascist BJP-RSS regime calls it, can be a major precursor to the genocide of Kashmiri people,” she said.

The Genocide Watch has already sounded the alarm bells. 8 million Kashmiris are caged up in one of the world’s largest concentration camps. Using draconian laws, she said that Indian forces have intensified systematic use of summary executions, torture, and rape as a weapon.

She said that hundreds of Kashmiri leaders, such as Asiya Andrabi, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Yasin Malik, Masarat Alam Bhat and journalists like Asif Sultan, remain illegally imprisoned without any due process.

Shamelessly, Dr Shireen Mazari said that the occupation forces are using live ammunition, including pellet gunshots, against peaceful protestors and even religious gatherings, as exemplified by pellet firing on a Muharram procession in Srinagar in August 2020.

During staged encounters, houses and entire neighborhoods are being demolished to inflict collective punishment, even as affected families are left hapless at the mercy of the deadly COVID virus.

She said that a pliant Indian judiciary is acting as a veritable arm of occupation as hundreds of habeas corpus petitions remain unheard before the courts.

Cowed by brave indigenous voices, Indian troops are gagging local media, harassing journalists and carrying out reprisal attacks against human rights defenders.

Even amidst the global health emergency, she said that arbitrary restrictions have not been eased out, infringing upon Kashmiri people’s fundamental rights to life, livelihoods, health and education.

Not a single member of Indian army personnel has so far been prosecuted for the widely documented human violations in the occupied territory, including the mass rape of Kashmiri women in the villages of Kunan and Poshpura in 1991- just one of the many such instances of use of rape as a weapon by the occupying forces, she added.

Pointing towards the President Michelle Bachelet, she said that India’s credentials as purveyor of state terrorism and violator of human rights are well-established.

Today, the Parliaments, global media and civil society are calling out India for its industrial scale assaults on human rights and dignity of the Kashmiri people.

The world’s so-called largest democracy has earned the title of ‘the most dangerous and violent’ country for minorities. The UN Security Council has met three times to consider the serious peace and security ramifications of India’s aggressive actions, she said.

To divert global attention away from its atrocities in Kashmir, India has indulged in dangerous false flag operations in the nuclear environment of the subcontinent and peddled disinformation against Pakistan in this very Council and beyond.

The shocking revelations by the independent EU Disinfo Lab, in its second report namely “India Chronicles” and the Goswami whatsapp leaks have once again confirmed duplicity, deceit and defiance of the fascist BJP-RSS regime, Madam President

Last year,she said the leading UN Special Procedures described the situation in occupied Jammu & Kashmir “in free fall” and urged the international community to ‘step up’. Since then, the situation has fallen further into a deep abyss and therefore meets any objective criteria of being a full-blown human rights crisis.

This Council must consider the Kashmir situation on its human rights merits, and not be influenced by geopolitical calculations, and bilateral economic interests vis-à-vis India. The two Kashmir Reports, issued by the High Commissioner in June 2018 and July 2019, present a clear roadmap.

She informed the session about Pakistan’s efforts to support advance respect for universally agreed values, rights and freedoms and working for consensus-building, including adherence to the principles of impartiality, non-discrimination, genuine dialogue and cooperation.

Despite challenges, she said Pakistan determined to uphold, respect, promote and safeguard rights and freedoms of all our citizens.
Pakistan’s human rights plans and policies are directed at realizing the vision of a humane, compassionate, peaceful and inclusive society. Our institutional oversight is robust.

She said the Standing Committees of the Parliament, and dedicated Commissions at various levels on women, child and minority rights remain vigilant and are following up on recommendations of Treaty Bodies and the UPR process.

Treaty Implementation Cells at the Federal and Provincial levels are effectively coordinating programmes and activities in the field of human rights. Human rights education curriculum for schools is in place. A national human rights helpline supported by apps provides effective remedy and relief to victims. Process of legislative measures against torture and criminalization of enforced disappearances are at different stages of the parliamentary process.

The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearance is supplementing our Government’s proactive measures to eliminate this unacceptable practice. she said a substantial decrease in the number of cases testifies to continued progress in this area.

Pakistan’s Government has taken policy measures and created institutional mechanisms to alleviate poverty, reduce inequalities and create viable social safety nets. We have extended coverage of our shelter programme for the homeless.

“We have added food kitchens for the homeless and the poor. A new nationwide drive to fight child malnutrition has commenced. This human rights-centric approach has optimized our State delivery system, which has, in turn, enabled us to respond at scale and with speed to the COVID pandemic.” she said.

“Using the platform of Ehsaas (meaning compassion) Programme, we have disbursed emergency cash of over PKR 175 billion to more than 15 million beneficiaries with specific focus on women, minorities, and transgender citizens. Our policy of ‘smart lockdowns’ during the COVID pandemic have saved lives and livelihoods, particularly of daily wage workers, small farmers and SMEs,” she explained.