Pak-India ties not good due to Kashmir: FO

ISLAMABAD   –  Pakistan yesterday said that its ties with India are not good due to New Delhi’s unilateral steps in occupied Kashmir in 2019.

Speaking at the weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmed said Pakistan desired peaceful and friendly relations with all its neighbouring countries, including India. “Pakistan is committed to have meaningful, constructive and result-oriented dialogue with India, but the onus is on New Delhi to take necessary steps to create an enabling environment,” he said. 

The spokesperson said since the unilateral and illegal actions taken by the Indian regime on August 5, 2019 in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the relationship had worsened.

“The international community needs to do more in checking atrocities against the innocent people of Kashmir,” he said. He said the Kashmiris in IIOJK and around the world joined by Pakistanis and others marked the grim anniversary of the “Gaw Kadal” massacre. 

“On 21 January 1990, Indian occupation forces had brutally martyred at least 52 innocent and peaceful protesters in Srinagar for demanding freedom from Indian oppression. Pakistan stands in solidarity with the victims of this unspeakable crime and reiterates the call for bringing the perpetrators to justice. It is appalling as it is condemnable that even after more than three decades, there is no accountability for this cold-blooded killing,” he mentioned.

He said this travesty of justice is basically a stark remainder of the culture of impunity and rule of NO law that is deeply entrenched and continues to fester in IIOJK – in which the oppressed are punished and persecuted while the perpetrators are encouraged and protected. “For past more than seven decades, Kashmiris are the victims of India’s state-sponsored terrorism, including gross and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, which have further intensified under the BJP-RSS combine’s “Hindu Rashtra” project, under which sinister anti-Kashmiri policies are also being pursued to change the demographic composition of the occupied territory,” he said. 

Ahmed said Pakistan condemned the increasing harassment, illegal arrests and registration of fake criminal cases against journalists and civil society activists in IIOJK. “The attack and ban on Kashmir Press Club manifestly reflects India’s entrenched use of brute force and coercion to forcibly silence all those raising voices against its horrendous crimes and genocidal acts in IIOJK,” he added.

The spokesperson said it was encouraging that the international community is increasingly realizing the gravity of the situation in IIOJK towards which Pakistan has been drawing attention all these years.  In this regard he referred to the Russel Tribunal on Kashmir held in Sarajevo last month, and the filing earlier this week of an application by a London-based law firm (Stoke White) with the British Police seeking arrest of Indian officials over their alleged role in war crimes in IIOJK. Reportedly, he said, the law firm has submitted report based on over 2,000 testimonies taken between 2020 and 2021, providing extensive evidence to the Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes Unit documenting how Indian military and civil leadership were responsible for the torture, kidnapping and killing of activists, journalists and civilians.

“It is self-evident that India can no longer escape international and legal censure for its rampant human rights violations in IIOJK, and we call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations and international human rights and humanitarian organizations to hold India accountable,” he said.

Pakistan, the spokesperson said, will continue to extend all possible support to our valiant brothers and sisters in Kashmir for the rightful pursuit of their legitimate struggle.

To a question regarding return of Pakistani students to China, Ahmed said Pakistani authorities were taking up this issue with the relevant Chinese quarters so that Pakistani students can go back to China to pursue their education.

Meanwhile, work on major infrastructure projects has continued apace and a number of new megaprojects have been endorsed by the Joint Cooperation Committee of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. 

“These include the Azad Pattan and Kohala hydropower projects, which will help address Pakistan’s food security while also ensuring access to green and cost-competitive energy for our industrial growth,” he elaborated. 

The spokesperson said there were just a few of the headline developments in CPEC. “We look forward to sharing more updates in due course. We appreciate media’s in presenting the true picture of CPEC’s progress for the benefit of our people, and to relegate some misguided efforts to deliberately spread disinformation about this signature achievement of Pakistan and China,” he said.  

His comments have come as Prime Minister Imran Khan prepares for a visit to China to participate in the inaugural ceremony of the Winter Olympics and hold meetings with the Chinese leadership.

Ahmed said starting from the first visit of the Prime Minister to China in November 2018, CPEC had focused increasingly on socio-economic development projects geared towards directly improving the well-being of our people. 

“Twenty-seven projects have been conceived and are under various stages of implementation and preparation. We have also expanded CPEC’s ambit by including agriculture, science and technology and IT (Information Technology) cooperation,” the spokesperson said.

He said Pakistan had assumed chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China (for the year 2022. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi presided over the proceedings of the opening segment of the handover ceremony held in a virtual format on 14 January which was also attended by the outgoing Chair (Foreign Minister of the Republic of Guinea), UN Secretary-General, and President of the UN General Assembly, he added.

The spokesperson said this week, Prime Minister Imran Khan held a telephonic conversation with President Vladimir Putin. 

“Prime Minister Imran Khan appreciated the Russian leader’s statements regarding respect for Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Enhancement of bilateral cooperation in different areas including economy, trade and energy, high-level exchanges, besides regional and international issues also came up for discussion in this important interaction,” he mentioned.

On the status of Indian wheat assistance for Afghanistan, he said, Pakistan had allowed on humanitarian grounds on exceptional basis. 

“We have conveyed to the India side, necessary details of arrangements put in place by Pakistan, and for about 3 weeks now, are awaiting further response from India of the date of dispatch and other information regarding the first consignment,” he added.

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