-Dismisses impression of rift within PTI
By Uzma Zafar
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday called on the international community to hold India accountable for perpetrating human rights abuses and torture against the residents of India-occupied Kashmir.
In his message on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, observed on June 26, the premier noted that women, men and children living in occupied Kashmir have “faced pellet guns, sexual assault, electrocution, and physical and mental torture” at the hands of Indian forces.
He said these atrocities carried out “on orders of the Hindutva Supremacist Occupation Modi government” are well documented by the United Nations, human rights organisations and international media.
“A continuing silence in the face of such blatant abuse is against international human rights and humanitarian laws and must be unacceptable,” the prime minister tweeted. Soon after, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in a tweet highlighted the need to “look inward” in order to curb incidents of torture.
“It’s easy to condemn police brutality around the world without looking inward,” Bilawal wrote, apparently in response to the prime minister’s statement.
“Criminalising torture is the first step towards ending this culture of impunity and bringing the perpetrators, whoever they may be, to account. Torture is criminal, make it a crime!” he added.
Both Pakistani and international law prohibit torture and other forms of abuse of prisoners. The country’s Constitution also guarantees individual rights, including the right not to be tortured. But though the National Assembly has passed various statutes that outlaw police brutality and torture, there is no consolidated and comprehensive legislation specifically criminalising torture.
Prime Minister Imran reiterated his criticism of India while speaking at an event to give cash handouts to people affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the helpless people of occupied Kashmir were facing unprecedented torture by India and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-inspired “extremist Modi government”.
The premier said the 800,000 Indian army troops were inflicting torture on the Kashmiris “with a plan”, adding that Modi’s mindset had become clear with his role in the 2002 massacre of Muslims in Gujarat.
“He is not a normal man; he is a psychopath. He thinks of the Nazis as role models and that’s why he thinks this way,” he told the audience.
The prime minister said the Indian violence in occupied Kashmir was “going towards genocide” and he as “Kashmir’s ambassador” had gone to various heads of states and explained to them the RSS and their extreme mindset.
“They will also go after Sikhs and other lower castes, this is a Brahman mindset. It is destroying India in reality … the Hindu who are literate understand where he is taking them.”
The premier said the Kashmiri movement cannot be suppressed through force and his government will take the issue to the world.
“We raised this issue to a great extent in the UN but unfortunately when we came back someone had the Azaadi March, so that was sabotaged and the cause was muted. We will pick it up again and build up to August 5,” he announced.
On the occasion, the prime minister announced a special relief package for people living close to the Line of Control under the government’s flagship Ehsaas welfare programme.
He said the programme will reach 138,000 families in the region who will receive cash assistance, while 1.2 million people in AJK will also receive health cards, which they can use to avail treatment of up to Rs1 million.
While addressing a seminar in Islamabad, Information Minister Shibli Faraz expressed similar sentiments against Indian rights abuses, saying New Delhi, with a view to divert attention from Kashmir, has added a “belligerent posture” towards Pakistan by conducting increased ceasefire violations.
India also resorted to “naked aggression” against Pakistan on February 26 last year, when it sent its planes across the LoC and has been hinting at another false-flag operation, Faraz said.
“It is time the UN and international community woke up to the ground realities of the region,” he added, cautioning India that any aggression against Pakistan will be given a matching response.
“Pakistan has the will to defend threats but it does not want military confrontation and desires peaceful settlement of all disputes.”
He said Pakistan will continue to extend moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris’ cause.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his message in connection with the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture highlighted that India has so far failed to ratify the UN Convention on Torture.
“Instead, [the] Indian government freely uses #torture as an instrument of state policy to crush Kashmiri struggle for [the] right to self-determination,” he tweeted.
In a tweet, UN Secretary General António Guterres termed torture an “abhorrent denial of human dignity”.
“On Friday’s International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, let us commit to achieving a world free of this human rights abuse,” he said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the impression of discord between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders is not true.
According to details, parliamentarians met the premier and exchanged views over affairs related to their respective constituencies.
The lawmakers complained over not receiving development funds and not being included in consultations regarding party matters.
Imran Khan assured to work together with all party members as well as allies.
The development funds – withheld due to coronavirus – will soon be released, the PM affirmed.