ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has urged the world to act on India’s defiance on held Kashmir and the Gilgit-Baltistan which was threatening regional peace. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said India was escalating tension at a time when the whole world was fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“India’s claims on occupied Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and the

daily ceasefire violations are an eye opener for the world. There must a strong global voice against this defiance,” he said, on Monday, while speaking to The Nation. Qureshi said Pakistan was raising the issue of India’s belligerence at all international forums. “All of India’s irresponsible statements are being shared with the world,” he remarked.

Over the weekend, Pakistan had rejected inclusion of Kashmir valley under its control and northern Gilgit-Baltistan region by India’s state-run TV and radio channels in their weather bulletins.

The move came days after New Delhi declared Azad Jammu Kashmir and the Gilgit-Baltistan region, which borders neighboring China, its ‘part, with Indian officials saying the private broadcasters will also be advised to carry weather reports from the disputed region in their news bulletins.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said: “Like the so-called ‘political maps’ issued last year by India, this move is also legally void, contrary to reality, and in violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions. This is another mischievous Indian action in support of a spurious claim and another evidence of India’s irresponsible behavior.”

She added: “No illegal and unilateral steps by India can change the ‘disputed’ status of Jammu and Kashmir, recognized as such by the international community including the United Nations. Such moves by the Government of India cannot prejudice the inalienable right to self-determination of the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”

Pakistan, Farooqui added, wpi;d urge India not to make baseless assertions and to abstain from misleading the world community through unfounded claims on regions that constitute internationally recognized disputed territories.

Yesterday, Aisha Farooqui said that Pakistan’s policy on Kashmir and GB remained unchanged. “We want a solution based on the UN resolutions,” she told The Nation.

Already strained relations between the two nuclear neighbors have plummeted to a new low after India scrapped the longstanding special status of Jammu and Kashmir last August.

Since then, the two border forces had exchanged fire on an almost daily basis along the Line of Control, a de facto border that divides the highly militarized zone between the two neighbours.

After they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought four wars -- in 1948, 1965, 1971, and 1999 -- three of them over Kashmir.

Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against the Indian rule for unification with Pakistan.

According to human rights groups, thousands of people had been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

Former ambassador Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, who remained Pakistan envoy to India and the US, said while Pakistan sought peace with its neighbor, “we should emphasize on India and the rest of the world that we will not tolerate and stand by genocide in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”

He said there were no cost free and risk-free options to stop genocide in IOJK, save Kashmir, and avoid war with India.

“Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent is meant to deter war not pursue war. But, if the people of the Valley are threatened with genocide, as indeed they are, Pakistan must take bold measures,” he said.

August 5, 2019 has transformed Kashmir from a longer-term diplomatic challenge to an existential challenge for Pakistan. Modi’s ‘Anschluss’ does not allow for incremental strategies, he added.

Pakistan, he said, “must now do whatever it takes to ensure that it no longer remains an irresolute and self-imprisoned soft state that surrenders its raison d’être. Pakistan must strengthen its credibility. If that happens, India will, sooner or later, have to accept the reality that it can neither permanently crush the Kashmir liberation struggle nor successfully blame Pakistan for its inability to do so.”

Qazi said that Pakistan must develop options and take risks to ensure freedom and justice for Kashmir and to chart a course for peaceful coexistence with India.

He highlighted that it was not an exaggeration to define life in IOJK as purgatory exacerbated by COVID-19. For Modi and his retinue, the pandemic provides the ideal opportunity to further execute their Hindutva designs of “absorb and annex” in the Valley – turning the Muslim majority into a minority, he said.

“The situation in IOJK is desolate and spells terror as the Valley experiences not only acute shortage of manpower as well as inadequate infrastructure and personal protective equipment but also internet facilities to access WHO guidelines on how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic,” Qazi said.

Referring to the recent US Commission on International Religious Freedom report that designated India as a “country of particular concern” over its maltreatment of religious minorities mainly by “non-state actors”, Ambassador Qazi said that even Genocide Watch had issued a Genocide Alert for India Occupied Kashmir and called upon the United Nations and its members to warn India not to commit genocide in the territory.

Ambassador Qazi lamented that for the inhabitants of the occupied territory, it was a case of triple whammy – military occupation, constitutional onslaught to alter the demographics and the emergence of an invisible enemy in the shape of COVID-19.

“As for BJP, the pandemic has become fitting pretext to justify communication blackout, restriction of internet services, confinement to homes ensuing deprivation of livelihood, and ultimately loss of identity for the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.