On the back foot

Published: June 24, 2018

Over the past week or so, India has seen an awkward reversal of fortunes on the diplomatic front. The first of these was a moving appeal by the United Nations Human Rights Commission for an international investigation into a litany of abuses committed in India-occupied Kashmir. Then there was a less publicised but nonetheless timely and significant designation of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal as “militant religious outfits” by the US Central Intelligence Agency. Both groups have been at the forefront of communal polarisation and have been involved in various hate crimes and acts of vandalism. Rather than face up to the reality of excesses committed by Indian forces against Kashmiris in the disputed Himalayan region or acknowledge that the labelling of the two groups was fully justified, the country’s media outlets chose to be speculative and pointed their finger towards a global conspiracy following what it called intense lobbying by Pakistan.

As much as the Foreign Office in our country would like to claim credit for the latest embarrassment suffered by New Delhi, we would like to point out that it is time India gritted its teeth and accepted responsibility for this bitter harvest of its own policies. Despite spending nearly 90 days in lobbying at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), only two states — Bhutan and Mauritius — actually testified in New Delhi’s favour. No matter how much you try to conceal it, the truth has a habit of revealing itself.

An upcoming session of the Human Rights Council is likely to consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive, independent international probe into allegations of rights violations in Kashmir. The 49-page report of the UN rights chief is quite a vindication of Pakistan’s standpoint on the dire situation in the disputed territory especially since 2016. The next logical step? An end to the atrocities. Perhaps.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2018.

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