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Kashmiris suffering under India’s repressive ‘double lockdown’: Amb. Khan

WASHINGTON, Jul 03 (APP):India has used the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to intensify the brutal repression it had already unleashed in occupied Kashmir since its last year’s annexation of the disputed region, Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan said Thursday, while urging the world community to take note of the human rights abuses there.

“Kashmiris are now enduring a ‘double lockdown’,” he said in a webcast organized by The Washington Diplomat, an independent American weekly newspaper. Moderated by Anna Gawel, the newspaper’s managing editor, the discussion was a part of its Global 360 series, titled “Pakistan: Regional Peace, Kashmir and Coronavirus”.

Highlighting the grave humanitarian situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistani envoy said that New Delhi was holding eight million Kashmiris incommunicado during a raging pandemic while continuing to suppress their struggle for self-determination through arbitrary arrests and disappearances, torture and the use of pellet guns.

India had now promulgated an ordinance to effect demographic change in the disputed territory, another violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and international laws, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, Ambassador Khan pointed out. Indian occupied Kashmir was the “testing ground” for the ruling BJP’s Hindu majoritarian agenda, which was now being implemented across India. Ambassador Khan urged the international community to pay attention to the gross human rights violations taking place in occupied Kashmir.

The Pakistani envoy warned that the unresolved nature of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and India’s alarming drift towards Hindu nationalism posed a grave threat to peace and stability in South Asia. He also highlighted the efforts made by the Government of Pakistan to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government, he said, has introduced a “smart lockdown” strategy to strike a balance between controlling the rising number of coronavirus infections and protecting the most economically vulnerable segments of society. To that end, the government has provided a historic fiscal stimulus in order to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic on low-income households, women, and religious minorities, under its flagship “Ehsaas” poverty alleviation programme.