ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Saturday welcomed the public hearing by Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress on human rights situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK) wherein the lawmakers called for an independent fact-finding mission to the IOJK.

In its meeting held on November 14 at Washington DC, the Commission reinforced the internationally recognised disputed nature of the Jammu and Kashmir issue and highlighted the gross human rights violations and the humanitarian crisis in IOJK.

A call for an independent fact-finding mission to IOJK was made and the right of self-determination of Kashmiri people was also duly underscored during the Commission’s proceedings.

Held less than a month after the hearing of the Subcommittee on Asia of the US House of Representatives, the Lantos Commission hearing reflected continued international concern over the situation in IOJK, the Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement.

He said that Pakistan recognized the efforts of Members of the US Congress who had raised their voices of conscience on the ongoing persecution of the people of IOJK and called upon the Indian government to end its brutal repression.

Islamabad for Unesco’s role to resolve Kashmir dispute, restore human rights

“We appreciate that the US leadership and lawmakers are cognizant of the potential threats to fundamental human rights, freedom of speech, right of self-determination, and peace and stability in the region and are willing to play their due role to help bring the continuing humanitarian nightmare to an end,” he remarked.

He said the general view during the hearing was that the international journalists, independent human rights organizations and United Nations Special Rapporteurs should be allowed to visit IOJK.

The witnesses also called for immediate lifting of the communications blockade and restoration of human rights in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Overall, it was emphasized that India should not be allowed to continue its oppressive policies as well as religious and ethnic persecution. The international community was urged to hold independent investigations into grave human rights violations in the occupied territory.

Importantly, the Commission emphasized the need for the US Congress to play an even greater role in urging India to end its repression in IOJK, without succumbing to any political expediency.

The spokesman lauded the courage of the panelists who became the voice of innocent Kashmiri people being brutally silenced by India’s communications blockade.

The panelists shredded the myth of so-called “largest democracy” and honestly exposed the authoritarian, nationalistic and extremist motivations driving the Indian government’s deplorable and repressive policies.

They also expressed their concern that persecution of religious minorities in India, especially manifested in the form of anti-conversion legislation, Babri Masjid verdict, National Registration of Citizens (NRC) in Assam as well as mob violence and lynching were fostering a growing sense of fear among the minorities in India.

The Foreign Office spokesman said the latest hearing in the Lantos Commission of the US Congress was another illustration of the world community’s serious concern over the unacceptable situation in IOJK and the need to address it urgently.

“The Indian regime must end its illegal occupation of IOJ&K, stop its state-terrorism in the occupied territories, and allow the exercise of right to self-determination to the Kashmiri people as stipulated by the United Nations Security Council resolutions,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has called upon the UNESCO to exercise its moral authority in pressing the Indian government to restore the fundamental rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and resolve this international dispute as per UN Security Council resolutions.

While delivering Pakistan’s national statement at the 40th session of UNESCO General Conference being held in Paris, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood drew the world’s attention towards dangerous trends where the intellectual, moral and legal basis for maintaining global peace is eroding and education and cultural values being undermined, said a press release received here Saturday.

The minister cited the example of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir as a manifestation of these dangerous trends, where over eight million Kashmiris had been locked down under curfew for more than 100 days, with their basic human rights and fundamental freedoms being trampled with impunity.

The minister also highlighted that education was a large casualty there with around 1.5 million Kashmiri students being unable to go to school.

He also expressed dismay at the decision of India’s highest court, which virtually condoned the destruction of centuries old Babri Mosque in Ayodhya.

The minister’s statement was measured, bringing out facts that have already been widely documented by human rights organizations and international media. Importantly, it did not go beyond UNESCO’s mandate.

By contrast, India, while exercising its right of reply to Pakistan statement, made baseless and unfounded allegations against Pakistan.

India used the same old playbook, attempting to shift the world’s attention away from gross human rights atrocities being perpetrated in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

The Indian statement did not have any relevance to UNESCO’s constitution and its mandate. It was a vitriolic outburst, which smacked of a self-created delusion of grandeur and a false sense of hubris and righteousness. Many member states expressed their shock and concern on India’s statement.

In its right of reply to the Indian statement, Pakistan emphasized that it had no intention to politicize UNESCO and reiterated that its statement was completely in line with the UNESCO’s values and principles of its constitution.

Pakistan called upon India to come out of its denial about the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir, and reminded it of UN Secretary General’s statement of 8 August 2019 which reaffirmed that the UN’s position on Kashmir is governed by the UN Charter and applicable Security Council resolutions.

China also condemned and rejected Indian attempts to categorize Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh as their integral part.