Geneva/New Delhi: India and Pakistan faced off strongly on Kashmir at the UN Human Rights Council, with Islamabad alleging "atrocities" on civilians even as New Delhi hit back, accusing the neighbour of using terrorism as a state policy and of "widespread human rights violations" there, especially Balochistan.
As Pakistan welcomed the UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein saying that an international probe to Kashmir was "critically needed", and said the visit would "help address the culture of impunity prevailing there", India made a strong rebuttal - rejecting Pakistan's "continued misuse of the Council to make tendentious references about internal matters" relating to Jammu and Kashmir.
This, India said, stems from "Pakistan's territorial ambitions over Kashmir that has found concrete expression in repeated armed aggressions" and that Pakistan "continues to be in illegal occupation" of a large part of territory in Jammu and Kashmir.
It said the cause for the nearly 70-day unrest in Kashmir is due to "cross-border terrorism sponsored by Pakistan which has provided active support since 1989 to separatist groups and terrorist elements including those operating from the territory under Pakistan's control".
India said that many countries have "repeatedly called upon Pakistan to end cross-border infiltration; dismantle the terrorism infrastructure; and stop acting as an epicentre of terrorism".
Rebutting Pakistan's allegations of human rights violations in India, the statement said that while New Delhi's credentials as a peaceful, democratic, pluralistic society are well established, Islamabad is "characterised by authoritarianism, absence of democratic norms and widespread human rights violations across the country including Balochistan".
"The institutions of governance in Pakistan have corroded to such an extent that it has become a hub for the global export of terror."
"It will be in the fitness of things if instead of ritually raking up alleged human rights violations elsewhere, Pakistan were to focus its energies on improving human rights situation within Pakistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir," the statement said.
It said that Islamabad must also "act against the perpetrators of terrorist attacks on its neighbours who are roaming freely in Pakistan with impunity, so that terrorism emanating from Pakistan - the gravest risk for peace and stability of the region - could be addressed effectively".
In another interjection at the UN Human Rights Council, India said that Pakistan "systematically abused and violated the human rights of its own citizens, including in Balochistan, as well as of the people of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. While advocating restraint to others, it has no hesitation in using air power against its own people. Pakistan also continues to provide sanctuary to UN-designated terrorists".
India said that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so.
It said that the people of Pakistan as well as Pakistan Administered Kashmir "have become victims of sectarian conflict, terrorism and extreme economic hardship due to Pakistan's authoritarian and discriminatory policies in complete disregard of human rights".
"The heart of the matter is that we are dealing with a state that regards the use of terrorism as a legitimate instrument of statecraft. The world watches with concern as the consequences of Pakistan's actions have spread beyond its immediate neighbor. All of us stand prepared to help, if only the creators of this monster wake up to the dangers of what they have done to themselves," India said.
Earlier, Pakistan termed the "claims of restraint shown by India as simply preposterous" and said the "Indian obduracy in disallowing outside observers to Indian-administered Kashmir is testimony to the fact that the Indian government wishes to hide atrocities unleashed against the Kashmiri people".
The diplomatic slugfest comes as unrest in Kashmir nears 70 days, with over 80 people killed in clashes with security forces since July 9, after the gunning down of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani by security forces. IANS