NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan are slated to make statements on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir during the ongoing 42nd UN Human Rights Session on September 10.
A high-level delegation is already in Geneva to hold meetings with groups and representatives of various countries to counter Pakistan’s allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.
A session: The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session started in Geneva on Monday and will go on till September 27. There are 47 members in the council including India, Pakistan and China. The council’s membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. Seats are distributed as follows — Africa: 13; Asia-Pacific: 13; Latin America and Caribbean: 8; western Europe: 7; eastern Europe: 6.
A diplomatic challenge: India and Pakistan are slated to make statements on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir today. Pakistan is also set to press for a resolution against India’s moves to “muzzle human rights” in J&K (in the wake of New Delhi revoking the territory’s special status) during the session, after having failed to raise the issue at the UN Security Council meeting last month. India needs enough numbers to defeat the resolution (there will be a procedural vote) in the 47-member body. While many African, Asian and Latin American countries have offered their in-principle support on the issue, India must ensure that their support also translates into votes and that these countries do not abstain en masse during the vote on Kashmir.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is also likely to speak on Kashmir in his speech at the UN General Assembly on 27 September. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also address the assembly on the same day, the first time since 2014.
The trouble signs: In her opening statement at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council, UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Monday said, “I am deeply concerned about the impact of recent actions by the Government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris, including restrictions on internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists.” Bachelet also said the recent National Register of Citizens verification process in Assam has caused ‘great uncertainty and anxiety.’
An opportunity: Meanwhile, Pakistan could face heat over its blasphemy laws at the council meeting. “Between 1987 and 2017, 1,500 people or more were charged with blasphemy: 730 were Muslims, 501 were Ahmadis, 205 were Christians and 26 were Hindus,” read a statement submitted in UNHRC. “The laws are routinely used to target religious minorities for personal or political motives and result in a violation of fundamental rights,” said the statement, demanding moves by Islamabad to repeal all blasphemy laws.
In another development, large scale protests broke out in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Monday over atrocities by Pakistani Army and human rights violations.
Tension between the two countries may flare up along the border too. Reports say that the Intelligence Bureau has alerted the government over a build-up of Pak troops along India’s border near Rajasthan and that Islamabad has secretly released Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to carry out terror attacks. Azhar was designated a terrorist by the United Nations in May 2019.