ISLAMABAD  -  Pakistan on Thursday rejected India’s protest against the bus service between Pakistan and China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said: “We reject Indian ministry of external affairs’ purported protest and statement regarding bus service through CPEC. India’s repeated regurgitation of claims over Indian-Occupied Kashmir can neither change the facts of history nor legality of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.”

It said that as per the UN Security Council resolutions, the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir was disputed, the final status of which was to be determined through a democratic and impartial plebiscite to be held under the auspices of the United Nations.

“In complete violation of the UNSC resolutions, and against wishes of Kashmiri people, India continues to maintain its illegal hold over Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir through brutal use of force. It may be recalled that Indian leaders had committed to hold the plebiscite,” the foreign ministry statement said.

This week, India lodged strong protests with Pakistan and China over a bus service scheduled to be launched on November 3 between Lahore and Kashghar, a city in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region through the Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

“We have lodged strong protests with China and Pakistan on the proposed bus service that will operate through (Azad) Jammu and Kashmir under the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a statement. He added: “It is government of India’s consistent and well-known position that the so-called China-Pakistan ‘boundary agreement’ of 1963 is illegal and invalid, and has never been recognised by the government of India.” Kumar said: “Any such bus service through (Azad) Jammu and Kashmir will be a violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The foreign ministry said that the Occupied Kashmir ‘remains the most-militarised zone in the world, where the occupation forces are killing and maiming people on a daily basis. The gross and systematic violations of human rights of people of Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir at the hands of occupation forces have been extensively documented in the report issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in June 2018.”

By raising frivolous issues, the statement said, “India cannot mislead the international community or hide its state-terrorism against a people engaged in a legitimate struggle for their inalienable right to self-determination.” It added: “We call upon India to vacate its illegal occupation. We also call upon India to allow Commission of Inquiry (COI) recommended by the OHCHR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) to investigate human rights violations, and resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people.”

Separately, Director General South Asia Dr Muhammed Faisal on Thursday summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control on October 31 in Leepa Sector, resulting in the death of a civilian Haroon Abdul Rashid in the Bijildar village.

“The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws. Ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation,” he added.

The Director General South Asia urged India to respect the 2003 ceasefire arrangement; investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC and the Working Boundary.

He said that the Indian side should permit UN observers to play its mandated role as per the UN Security Council resolutions.

Sputnik news agency adds: Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, said on Thursday that the creation of CPEC has no relevance to the Indian-Pakistani territorial dispute and will not influence China’s stance on Kashmir. Bus service between the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China’s west and the city of Lahore of Pakistan’s Punjab province is set to be launched on November 3.

This prompted New Delhi to voice protest to Beijing and Islamabad, as India qualifies the move as a violation of its territorial integrity, since buses will run through the Jammu and Kashmir region, disputed between India and Pakistan. Pakistani media reports have claimed that the bus service is part of the CPEC.

“I don’t have any information on this issue yet. But I would like to say that the CPEC has nothing to do with the territorial dispute and will not influence China’s stance on Kashmir,” Lu told reporters at a press briefing in Beijing.

The CPEC is a $46 billion worth infrastructure project funded by China that aims at increasing the region’s integrity by connecting the Pakistani port city of Gwadar and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region via transportation routes. India opposes the project because the creation of the corridor envisages Chinese and Pakistani economic activity in the Gilgit-Baltistan area of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region.

India and Pakistan have been disputing the status of the Jammu and Kashmir region since the end of British rule in 1947. While the two sides signed a ceasefire agreement in 2003, they keep accusing each other of breaching it. China has repeatedly said that the Indian-Pakistani territorial dispute had to be settled through dialogue between the two sides.