ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Modi administration demonstrated fascist attitude at Srinagar airport by preventing a delegation of their own opposition parties from visiting the Occupied Kashmir.

He urged UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to immediately intervene, and play his role for safety and security of the Kashmiris, who have been bracing relentless siege of the Indian occupation forces.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Qureshi expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), saying the security clampdown there has entered its 20th day.

“This is the true face of the Indian government which the world witnessed today,” he said while referring to the arrest of former Congress President Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders shortly after they landed at Srinagar airport to visit Srinagar. He said it was a demonstration of the fascist attitude of the Modi administration.

The foreign minister said this incident testifies that India stands divided on Kashmir, and this was why the opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi were sent back from Srinagar airport in the next flight to Delhi.

The delegation was not allowed to step out of the airport and was sent back after an hour, the Indian media reported.

Qureshi called upon democratic nations of the world to view that footage. When they treat their own people this way, what expectation can be had when we [Pakistan] are told to hold a dialogue with them, he asked.

The foreign minister also highlighted the stifling communications blockade in the disputed territory which had forced media to use whatever broken equipment they have to record footage and send it out through their relatives.

“So in this environment, he [Rahul] goes to assess the situation and wishes to meet the Kashmiri leadership. He is arrested at the airport and transferred to New Delhi on the next flight,” he lamented. He also spoke of how his party’s spokesperson, while attempting to hold a media briefing in protest, was arrested mid conference.

Phone talk with UN chief

The foreign minister said he has also spoken to the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres about this recent event as well as Friday’s protest in various places after Friday prayers in which tear gas and pellet guns were employed to injure people. He said when people wanted to march towards UN office in Srinagar to record their protest on Friday, they were attacked by Indian forces with pallet guns and teargas shells.

Qureshi said his aim was to apprise the UN secretary general of the situation in Kashmir since after a meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was held. He said he apprised him of the fast deteriorating situation in IOK, the unabated lockdown, grave human rights violations, and the scarcity of food and medicines.

“He (Guterres) is in Paris and I spoke to him (over phone). I thanked him for his statement and the way he presented a legally and politically sound stance on the issue. I am sure Kashmiris must have also gained courage from his statement,” he added.

Qureshi said he also thanked the United Nations for convening the UNSC session. “With the closed-door meeting the message we got was that it is the wish of all members that the matter be resolved peacefully,” he held.

The minister said the UN was reminded that its Security Council was mandated to intervene over any illegal and unilateral steps aimed at demographic change of the IOK.

The UN secretary general was also requested to expedite efforts to help lift curfew in the occupied valley, and also to apprise the P-5 leadership about the gravity of situation there, he added.

The minister said the UN secretary general also assured him that during an upcoming meeting with Indian Prime Minister Modi in Paris, he would take up the Kashmir issue.

Antonio Guterres reiterated that he was ready to play his role for the resolution of the issue, but the Indian side was the main hurdle, Qureshi added.

He said the UN Human Rights Commissioner was also urged to intervene to protect the lives of Kashmiris.

The foreign minister said Kashmiris await international community’s backing and if the world disappoint them then they will be compelled to use any means to get their rights.



Humanitarian access

In a related development, the United Nations has expressed the hope that its human rights officials’ negotiations with India for access to the disputed state, which is currently under lockdown, “can move forward”.

“We are aware that our human rights colleagues are in touch at various levels with the Indian Government. So, we would hope that these contacts would continue for, to allow for access,” UN Associate Spokesperson Eri Kaneko told reporters at the regular noon briefing at UN Headquarters in New York York on Friday.

The spokesperson was responding to a question whether efforts were underway to pressure India to agree to the request made by UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to allow a “humanitarian team” to visit Occupied Kashmir.

“We hope that, in light of the current situation, these negotiations can move forward to allow for access,” she said.