Pakistan urges world to intervene on Kashmir amid coronavirus outbreak

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has urged the world to intervene on held Kashmir amid the coronavirus outbreak as Kashmiris were being treated inhumanly by India. Pakistan has written letters to the world capitals or spoken to the top diplomats on the issue in the recent days, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui told The Nation. She said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi took up the Kashmir issue with his counterparts in and outside the region.

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“At this point, Kashmiris are in dire need of help. The world must intervene,” she said.

Aisha Farooqui said Pakistan calls upon the Indian government to lift the communication blackout. Especially in view of the outbreak of Covid-19 and reported cases of affected people in held Kashmir. “Pakistan urges India to lift the blockade in the region in order to obtain full information on affected people and provision of essential items and medical supplies to the affected people,” she said,

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Hospitals in the occupied Himalayan region have an acute shortage of doctors and paramedics, while its healthcare facilities are insufficient to meet the crisis which has unsettled countries with world-class medical infrastructure. Given the situation, residents of the valley fear the potentially disastrous consequences of the coronavirus pandemic after cases of infection were was reported. Apprehensions abound that this may be just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ as several hundred people, most of whom had travelled to other countries, were placed under quarantine.

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In Ladakh, which until August was part of Kashmir before it was illegally separated and turned into a federally-administered territory, 13 cases tested positive, most of whom had travelled to Iran. The Muslim-majority region has been under a strict security and communication lockdown since August 5 when New Delhi illegally stripped the disputed Himalayan region’s of its special status. The internet was restored earlier this month, but it remains slow as 4G services are still not allowed. The fear over the coronavirus pandemic is compounded by a feeling among Kashmiris that the administration is not being transparent with them.

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Amnesty International has also asked the Indian government to immediately restore full internet services to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the group said that Indian government must lift internet restrictions so that people in the region have full access to health- and safety-related information. “The situation in relation to the coronavirus is constantly evolving. To ensure its full communication to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the government of India must urgently lift internet restrictions in the region and ensure real time preparedness of the people against the spread of the virus. The responses to coronavirus cannot be based on human rights violations and a lack of transparency and censorship,” said an AI statement.

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Aisha Farooqui said the lockdown faced by the people in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir was nearing 250 days.  “They continue to be deprived of their fundamental freedoms; their right to liberty, health, education and food,” she said. Pakistan, she said, condemns the inhuman and brutal repression of the people of Kashmir by the Indian security forces.  “Pakistan also rejects all attempts by the Indian government to call the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir an ‘integral part’ of India, which is a clear violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions,” she said.

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FM Qureshi this week wrote to the European Union and spoke to several European and Asian counterparts, highlighting the suppression of the Kashmiris and the coronavirus pandemic. He urged them to press India to ensure human rights in held Kashmir and implement the UN resolutions.