TEHRAN (FNA)- The Pakistan’s foreign minister warned that India’s “illegal occupation” of Muslim-majority Kashmir region could drive the two nuclear-armed countries “into an accidental war”, while also accusing New Delhi of turning Kashmir “into the largest prison on this planet”.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, speaking to reporters at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, accused India of “acting irresponsibly” and “being belligerent”, Al-Jazeera reported.
“If there is a false flag operation, which we fear, and they use it as a pretext and carry out some misadventure against Pakistan, we will respond and we will respond with force,” he stated.
Residents in a dozen villages have accused Indian soldiers of multiple human rights abuses – including beatings and electric shocks, forcing them to eat dirt or drink filthy water, poisoning their food supplies and threatening to take away and marry their female relatives.
An Indian army spokesman in the main city Srinagar, dismissed the accounts as “completely baseless”.
The United Nations human rights chief on Monday voiced alarm over the situation in Kashmir, pointing among other things to “restrictions on internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists”.
“I am deeply concerned about the impact of recent actions by the government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris,” Michelle Bachelet said in her opening statement to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) in Geneva.
Bachelet added that she had urged both the countries to ensure that rights in the region were respected and protected, stating that she had “appealed particularly to India to ease the current lockdowns or curfews, to ensure people’s access to basic services, and that all due process rights are respected for those who have been detained”.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed Bachelet’s comments in a series of tweets on Monday, and called on the UNHCR to form an independent commission to investigate human rights atrocities in Indian-administered Kashmir.
The Indian government revoked the special status accorded to Indian-administered Kashmir in its constitution, the most far-reaching political move on the disputed region in nearly 70 years.
A presidential decree issued on August 5 revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution that guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including the right to its own constitution and autonomy to make laws on all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs.
In the lead-up to the move, India sent thousands of additional troops to the disputed region, imposed a crippling curfew, shut down telecommunications and internet, and arrested political leaders.
The move has worsened the already-heightened tensions with neighbouring Pakistan, which announced it would downgrade its diplomatic relations with India.
India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part. The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory. A rebellion in Indian-administered Kashmir has been ongoing for 30 years.