ISLAMABAD              -         Pakistan on Thursday urged the world to intervene amid medical emergency in held Kashmir as coronavirus cases surged in the occupied territory.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said Pakistan remained deeply concerned at the lack of medical supplies and assistance in held Kashmir where 170 cases of coronavirus had been reported as well as the death of five people.

“Voices from within India and around the world continue to condemn the inhuman oppression of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The world should press India to ensure human rights,” she said.

In a joint statement recently, the spokesperson said, six international human rights organizations underscored that measures to combat COVID-19 must respect human rights of every individual and urgently release all political prisoners, human rights defenders and all those arrested in IOJ&K after 5 August 2019.

“These organizations, in their Joint Statement also reminded India of its obligation under international law to ensure the physical and mental health and well-being of inmates,” she added. She said it had been 249 days since the illegal and unilateral action of India on 5 August 2019. “In the last few days, Indian Occupation forces martyred nine innocent Kashmiris, including Aijaz Ahmed Naikoo, Shahid Ahmed Malik, Waqar Farooq, Muhammad Asharaf Malik, Sajjad Ahmed Hurrah and Aadil Hussain Mir in Kulgam, Kupwara and Sopore areas,” she elaborated.

Pakistan, she said, had strongly condemned and rejected the latest Indian action aimed at illegally changing the demographic structure of the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The so-called “Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Order 2020,” the spokesperson said, was another illegal step by India to settle non-Kashmiris in held Kashmir by changing the domicile laws.

“This is a clear violation of international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention. This Indian action, which is a continuation of India’s illegal and unilateral steps since 5 August 2019, also constitutes a violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan, and humanitarian norms. At this moment of global health crisis, it is a particularly reprehensible act as it seeks to take advantage of the international community’s focus on the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and further advance BJP’s sinister, “Hindutva” agenda,” she maintained.

She said Pakistan had consistently maintained that the international community needs to intervene to address the dire health and human rights emergency in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

She said that in this regard Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had also written a letter to the President of the UN Security Council urging the Council to play its role in lifting of communication and other blockades in held Kashmir and discussed the matter in his telephone calls with the UN Secretary General and several of his counterparts for Kashmiris’ right to unfettered access to medical and other essential supplies.

“Amnesty International has made a similar call to the Indian government to immediately restore full internet services to the Kashmiri people so that people in the region have full access to health- and safety-related information. We have always called for the need for international observers and Human Rights organizations to be given access to held Kashmir to assess the true situation on the ground there,” the spokesperson said.

Pakistan, Aisha Farooqui said, strongly rejects the officially-inspired reports that appeared in the Indian media seeking to link Pakistan with the terrorist attack on a Gurdawara in Kabul on 25 March 2020.

“As a country that has suffered the most and has fought resolutely against the scourge of terrorism, including State-sponsored terrorism emanating from across the border, Pakistan firmly believes that such despicable terrorist acts have no political, religious or moral justification,” she added.

On Afghanistan, she said, Pakistan a clear stated policy. “Pakistan has always supported a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, at peace with itself and with its neighbours. We believe that the signing of the US-Taliban Peace Agreement has created a historic opportunity for the people of Afghanistan. It is imperative that this historic opportunity is seized and all parties work together constructively for securing durable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” she explained.

Aisha Farooqui said all Pakistani missions abroad had been instructed to actively engage with the Pakistani community whether to provide information, help those in need of assistance in terms of visa facilitation, food, accommodation or repatriation

“All missions have established dedicated hotlines and focal persons available 24/7 to assist our communities abroad. Stranded Pakistanis are brought back,” she said

She said so far 101 nationals returned from UAE; 40 from Doha, 170 from Bangkok; 194 from Istanbul, 128 from Tashkent; 3 from Tajikstan, and 136 from Baghdad through special flights.

She said Pakistan’s Consul General in Houston had been tasked to inquire the wellbeing of Dr. Afia Siddiqui in view of the spread of coronavirus.

“The CG has called the prison warden to inquire about the health of Dr. Afia and was informed that she was doing well. Pakistan’s Consulate General will continue to get updates regarding the health of Dr. Afia and would also resume regular visit to the prison as soon as U.S authorities permit such visits owing to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

The spokesperson said Pakistan’s two-member solidarity team from Beijing Embassy, comprising officers Junaid and Suleman who had volunteered to go to Wuhan and assist Pakistani students under the lockdown there, had now returned to Beijing.

“After lifting of travel restrictions in Wuhan after 76 days, we are immensely proud of them and recognize their commitment and dedication to serve the nation,” she said, adding the Pakistani embassy was in contact with the Pakistani students.

On Iran, she said,  Foreign Minister Qureshi had a telephone conversation with his counterpart recently. “The Foreign Minister conveyed deep concern and sorrow over the loss of lives in the ongoing pandemic. The Foreign Minister also commended the Government and the People of Islamic Republic of Iran for valiantly combating COVID-19,” she said.

 Aisha Farooqui said Pakistan believed that the nuclear deal was a good example of mutually negotiated settlement of a complex issue through dialogue and diplomacy.

To a question, she said, Presidential and Parliamentary elections held on 31 March 2020 in Nagorno-Karabakh, occupied territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, was a clear violation of international norms.

“The election constitutes a clear breach of international law and UN Security Council resolutions. It is taken as an attempt by Armenia to hamper the ongoing negotiation process for finding lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through peaceful means. Pakistan reaffirms its principled position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and reiterates its support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan,” she remarked.

She said Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for debt relief for developing countries to enable them to direct resources to saving precious human lives and shoring up economies against the economic impact of the of the pandemic.

The IMF-World Bank, she said, had issued a joint statement on 25 March 2020 concerning debt relief. The Virtual G-20 Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia held on 26 March 2020, reaffirmed G-20 Commitment to address debt vulnerabilities.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guetterres, had also called for “maximum financial and technical support for the most vulnerable people and countries.”To a question, she said the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel violated international law and was condemnable.

“Pakistan calls for the immediate lifting of the blockade in order for Palestine to fight against the coronavirus pandemic,” she contended.