India rejects Pakistan’s Kashmir comments


New Delhi: India Friday hit back at Pakistan’s “gratuitous” comments on alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and asked Islamabad to take “credible action” against those “fomenting terrorism” from across the border in the state.

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“India firmly rejects gratuitous statements issued by Pakistan on Jammu & Kashmir, which amount to interference in the internal affairs of India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said.

“Pakistan should take credible and effective action against infiltration from across the Line of Control and dismantle the terror infrastructure that exists in the territory under its control,” he said.

“This would be an important contribution towards safeguarding the welfare of the people of J&K, who suffer the consequences of terrorism fomented from across the Line of Control and the International Border,” Prakash said.

This is the first time since the present cycle of violence erupted in the Kashmir Valley three months ago, claiming the lives of 93 people, mostly teenagers and youth, and in which Indian intelligence agencies suspect the hand of elements in Pakistan, that New Delhi has accused Islamabad of fomenting terror in Jammu and Kashmir. In the past too, India has accused Pakistan of abetting terrorism in the state.

Prakash was reacting to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s remarks about alleged “gross and systematic abuse of human rights” in Kashmir.

Pakistan will “continue to stand by the Kashmiris in their just cause”, Qureshi said: “Gross and systematic abuse of human rights … in Kashmir must end. Pakistan calls upon the government of India to exercise restraint.”

Reacting to Qureshi’s comments on the alleged “blatant” use of force by Indian security forces against the protesters, India reminded Pakistan that it was “a vibrant democracy.”

“India has sufficient mechanisms and constitutional safeguards to address issues raised by its citizens in any part of the country,” Prakash maintained.

Qureshi added that his country has taken “serious note of the deteriorating situation” in Jammu and Kashmir. “The indigenous movement (in Jammu and Kashmir) has gained a new momentum and urgency. The Kashmiris are unanimous in their demand for self-determination,” he said.

Qureshi’s comments are seen by India to as an indication that Pakistan will rake up the Kashmir issue at the United Nations General Assembly.

The comments have cast a shadow on a likely meeting between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Qureshi on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York later this month.

Despite sharp rhetorical exchanges on Kashmir, there have been some positive signals from both sides recently that have brightened the possibilities of a bilateral meeting between Krishna and Qureshi, paving the way for the latter’s visit to India later this year.

Underlining India’s “commitment to resolving issues of mutual concern with Pakistan through dialogue and peaceful means”, Prakash said Pakistan “must fulfil its solemn commitment of not allowing territory under its control to be used for terrorism directed against India in any manner”.

“This would be in the interest of Pakistan and of the international community,” the spokesperson said.