Imran asks UNGA chief to probe rights abuses in held Kashmir

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minis­ter Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qure­shi raised the Kash­mir issue in their meetings with United Nations General Assem­bly president Maria Espinosa, asking her to set up a commission to probe rights abuses in the India-held valley and take steps for the implementation of the Security Council resolutions on the dispute.

The UNGA president is here on a five-day visit. This is the first visit by a UNGA president to Pakistan since 2010. It is also Ms Espinosa’s first to any country in the Asia-Pacific region since her election last September.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Khan “drew the attention of the president to the massive human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, that have been documented in the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report of June 2018” and demanded an “early establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these abuses, as recommended by the UN”.

It should be recalled that the first-ever UN human rights report on Kashmir — which was published last June — had called for a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of human rights violations in India-held Kashmir.

Mr Khan asked Ms Espinosa to play her role in preventing the abuse of free speech rights in the shape of publication of provocative blasphemous caricatures. He said such acts hurt the feelings of billions of Muslims.

Mr Qureshi, in his meeting with the UNGA president at the Foreign Office, conveyed Pakistan’s deep concern over the systematic human rights abuses in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He underscored the need for the UN to ensure implementation of the Security Council resolutions.

Ongoing UNSC reforms were also discussed during the meeting and it was noted that the process should be led by the member states and that the way forward lay in a consensus-based approach.

“Both agreed that the United Nations remained an indispensable institution for advancing dialogue, cooperation and pursuing collective solutions to global challenges,” an FO statement on the meeting said.

Talking to Ms Espinosa during a meeting, Benazir Income Support Programme chairperson Dr Sania Nishtar said poverty reduction is top priority of the government and that a recently formed Poverty Alleviation and Coordination Council would address issues being faced by the most vulnerable segments of society.