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I shudder to say ‘Genocide’ but I must: FM Qureshi worries for Kashmir

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi accused New Delhi of imposing a genocide on the Muslim majority valley of Kashmir with unprecedented repressive measures, brutal security lockdown and plans to change the demography of the region

Kashmir

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed New Delhi’s unilateral actions of abolishing the special constitutional status of occupied Jammu & Kashmir, imposing an unprecedented curfew and restricting the movements of the locals, as a genocide.

Speaking to the Anadolu Agency Video News, Shah Mehmood Qureshi raised Islamabad’s concerns over the swift rise of Islamophobia. Pakistan, Malaysia and Turkey hosted a debate on the issue of rising Islamophobia on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

Genocide in Kashmir Valley

Qureshi said, “If you convert a Muslim-majority state [Jammu and Kashmir] into a Muslim-minority state, through a demographic change and that is a disputed area, which is forcibly occupied, that is a form of genocide and that concerns me.”

The Foreign Minister observed that during the post 9/11 period, “India in a very crafty manner used the struggle for the right to self-determination (of Kashmiris) and tried to dub it as terrorism.”

The Foreign Minister said that Pakistan, along with Malaysia and Turkey, will be holding a debate on the issue of Islamophobia in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, scheduled for later this month.

He added, “They (Kashmiris) are not terrorists; they are fighting for their rights and it should not be equated as terrorism.”

The already tense relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors have further escalated after New Delhi’s unlawful decision to forcefully annex the disputed Himalayan territory. The Muslim-majority valley of Kashmir has been under an unprecedented communications blackout and security lockdown.

Qureshi said, “Islamophobia is on the rise and we are concerned about it and that is why on the sidelines of the UN event Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia are hosting a debate and a discussion on Islamophobia.”

Turkey-Pakistan Relations

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi observed that bilateral relations between Turkey and Pakistan are marked with “a lot of goodwill on both sides”, maintaining that the two countries have always supported each other. He added that the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is likely to visit Pakistan in the “near future.”

Qureshi said, “Bilateral relations between Pakistan and Turkey have always been good, they have always been excellent.”

Read more: Turkey hails UNSC consultations on occupied Kashmir

The Foreign Minister added, “The Turks have always stood by Pakistan and Pakistan has always stood by Turkey. And we saw a manifestation of that at the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) forum.”

He said that Pakistan’s joint statement on Kashmir, submitted to the UNHRC, was signed by more than 50 nations. Qureshi said, “You know the Turkish ambassador (in Geneva) was in the lead. He was the first one to comment on our joint statement.”

The Foreign Minister added, “So, our relations are good. We are expecting President Erdogan to visit Pakistan in the near future and in which we will be talking about a comprehensive economic arrangement between Turkey and Pakistan.”

Qureshi also observed that Pakistan and Turkey enjoyed “good cooperation” in terms of military engagement, and added that Pakistan seeks to join forces with Turkey to curb the rise of Islamophobia. The Foreign Minister said that Pakistan, along with Malaysia and Turkey, will be holding a debate on the issue of Islamophobia in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, scheduled for later this month.

Commenting on Pakistan’s support to the Afghan reconciliation process, Qureshi said, “Our message is that you know peace is about the reduction in violence and give peace a chance.”

No Backdoor Diplomacy

Addressing the weekly press briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, Dr. Mohammad Faisal, official spokesperson, said that “there is no backdoor diplomacy with India” to resolve the escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Underscoring Pakistan’s commitment to the Kashmiri cause, Dr. Faisal observed that “the struggle for Jammu & Kashmir is a process which spans over 7-decades and is not an event.”

Read more: Accidental War likely if Tensions soar over Kashmir: Foreign Minister Qureshi

He added, “It is a continuing struggle which Pakistan and the Kashmiris have been undertaking with utmost conviction. This process is moving forward, the Prime Minister of Pakistan is visiting Azad Jammu & Kashmir tomorrow and will be addressing a public gathering there.”

Appreciating the comments made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights during the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva earlier this week, Dr. Faisal said, “We believe that UN High Commissioner’s concerns and calls are consistent with the position taken by the UN system vis-a-vis the human rights situation in IOJ&K including the continuing restrictions and crackdown on fundamental rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people.”

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