Indo-Pak face-off at UNHRC: Human rights vs blasphemy laws
New Delhi, Sep 10: As the highly anticipated 42nd UN Human Rights session got underway, all eyes would be on India and Pakistan. The session started on Monday and will go on till September 27.
Pakistan is set to make a statement today and would also press for the resolution on Kashmir, while pointing out human rights violations. India too would be making a statement, but would need enough numbers to defeat the resolution.
The council has 47 members including India and Pakistan. The seats are distributed as follows: Asia-Pacific-13, Africa- 13, Western Europe-7, Eastern Europe-6 and America and Caribbean-8.
Pakistan would go in for this resolution after it failed to raise the issue at the UN Security Council Meeting last month. Most Latin American, Caribbean, Asian and African countries have offered India support, but the challenge would be to translate the same into votes so that the resolution is defeated.
While Pakistan would look to rake up the human rights issues in Kashmir, India would speak about the blasphemy laws. A statement submitted at the UNHRC says that between 1987 and 2017, 1,500 or more people were charged with blasphemy of which 730 were Muslims, 501 Ahmadis, 205 Christians and 26 Hindus. The statement also said that the laws are routinely used to target religious minorities for personal or political motives and this results in the violations of fundamental rights.
India would also cite the protests that broke out at Pakistan occupied Kashmir over the atrocities by the Pakistan Army.
It may be recalled that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in her opening statement urged India to end the lockdown in Kashmir and also restore basic communication services.
Bachelet said, " I am deeply concerned about the impact of the recent actions by the Government of India on the human rights in Kashmir, including restrictions on the internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists. She was addressing the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council.
I have appealed particularly to India to ease the current lockdowns or curfews, to ensure people's access to basic services. It is important that the people of Kashmir are consulted and engaged in any decision making processes that have an impact on their future, she also said.
India is all ready with a counter offensive, with Pakistan set to move a resolution on the Kashmir issue at the UNHRC. The Pakistan delegation is being led by its foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
To set the narrative against Pakistan, the external affairs minister, S Jaishankar has already engaged several countries. India has decided to go on the counter offensive and raise the human rights violations that Pakistan has been committing. The condition of the minorities in Pakistan, violations in Pakistan occupied Kashmir are some of the issues that India would raise at the forum.
India is confident of beating down the Pakistan narrative as many nations would come to its support. Some of the nations include, Japan, Australia, Nepal, Egypt among others.
India hopes to get maximum support during the procedural vote on the Pakistan sponsored debate on Kashmir. India would also look to ensure that there are minimum abstentions of nations that support India. In all India has so far engaged with 47 nations on this issue.
Last month, Pakistan said that it had sent another letter to the UN high Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The letter highlighted in detail the context and consequences of India scrapping the special status to Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, it said.
India has categorically told the international community that its move to remove the special status to Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter and has also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.
Earlier on August 4, Qureshi had written to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and also held a telephonic conversation with her on August 8 on the Kashmir issue, the Foreign Office said.