Islamabad disappointed by Washington’s decision: FO

Published: August 17, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad has termed as unjustified Washington’s decision to designate Hizbul Mujahideen as terrorist organisation, saying New Delhi should be held accountable for committing state terrorism in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) rather than outfits struggling for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.

The US Department of State on Wednesday designated Hizbul Mujahideen as a ‘foreign terrorist organisation’ and slapped a series of restrictions on an outfit which, according to Pakistan, is engaged in a legitimate struggle in Kashmir.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing, the Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan was certainly disappointed with the US decision.

“We are disappointed in view of the fact that Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute with UN Security Council [UNSC] Resolutions pending implementation.

“Neither Indian presence in IoK nor its brutal actions against defenceless Kashmiris are lawful. The designation of individuals or groups supporting the Kashmiri right to self-determination as terrorists is completely unjustified,” Zakaria added.

He said the gross and systematic violation of human rights of the Kashmiri people in the IoK that had been recorded and reported by independent human rights bodies was a reality.

“Over the past one year, the world has witnessed an intensification of the brutal policies of repression being pursued by Indian occupation forces,” he told reporters.

US sanctions Kashmiri group Hizbul Mujahideen

“Overlooking killing and deliberate blinding of hundreds of Kashmiri children and teenagers is painful and not understandable,” Zakaria said, adding that it was India that “deserves to be held accountable for brutal use of force against Kashmiris, and for committing gross human rights violations.”

He further said Pakistan shall continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support for the just struggle of the Kashmiri people for the realisation of the right to self-determination and the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with UNSC Resolutions.

Responding to the statement by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day that abuse and gun could not resolve the Kashmir issue, he said his remarks vindicated Pakistan’s position.

“PM Modi’s statement validates our stance that armed subjugation and oppression cannot wash away the indigenous struggle of the Kashmiris,” he said. However, Zakaria maintained that verbal rhetoric needs to be accompanied with actions to be meaningful.

“Unfortunately we do not see that in India where Indian atrocities and genocide of Kashmiris by Indian occupation forces continues unabated even as we speak. A UN Fact-finding Mission should probe into gross human rights abuses occurring in the IoK as was demanded not only by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights but also the OIC.”

Asif condemns Indian atrocities

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif strongly condemned Indian barbaric policies against defenseless Kashmiris. He also deplored the recent killings in the IoK, as well as harassment of Hurriyat leadership on false and fabricated grounds, in a statement issued on Thursday.

Asif urged the world community and human rights organisations to take notice of the deteriorating human rights situation in IoK and invited attention of the UN secretary general towards India’s nefarious designs of bringing demographic changes in IoK in order to convert it into a Muslim minority area.

In this regard, the foreign minister underlined the steps of the Indian government like efforts to abrogate Article 35-A of Indian constitution, settlement of West Pakistan Refugees, giving land to non-Kashmiri industrialists, and establishment of Sainik colonies.

“These actions are in complete violation of UNSC resolutions, as well as international law and norms, which prohibit bringing material changes to a disputed territory.

“The intended demographic changes will undermine the prospects of holding a free and fair plebiscite in IoK required by UNSC resolutions,” he added.

The foreign minister reiterated that Pakistan remains committed to peacefully resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the resolutions of the UNSC and will continue to extend its moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Foreign secretary’s Kabul visit

Giving details of the recent visit of Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua to Kabul, Zakaria said the visit was for bilateral political consultations on the invitation of her Afghan counterpart. “The visit came right after her taking charge as FS, so it wasn’t something sudden,” he added.

During Janjua’s visit, the two sides discussed a range of issues – including political, economic, trade and transit, people-to-people contacts, border management, early repatriation of Afghan refugees and continuing efforts for achieving lasting peace and security in Afghanistan, he said.

The foreign secretary put emphasis on an Afghan-led credible peace process as Pakistan believes there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. The two sides underlined the importance of security cooperation between the institutions of the two countries to fight the common challenge of terrorism.

It was also agreed to continue engagement at all levels for bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. The foreign secretary also called on the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Zakaria said such visits were helpful in setting the direction to the bilateral relations. “This was not a one-off meeting; we have regular institutionalised mechanism in place, whereby bilateral political consultations take place. This was second meeting in consecutive years,” he said.

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