Independent probe into Kashmir unrest mandatory, UN rights chief says

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“I believe an independent, impartial and international mission is now needed crucially,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein has said in connection with unrest in Indian-held Kashmir.

The UN rights chief made the remarks in his opening statement at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council on Tuesday. “And that it should be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides.”

Hussein said he had received a letter from the Government of Pakistan on September 9 formally inviting an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) team to the Pakistani side of the line of control, “but in tandem with a mission to the Indian side”. “I have yet to receive a formal letter from the Government of India,” he added.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs rejected Hussein’s statement that the OHCHR was receiving reports of Indian authorities using excessive force against the civilian population in Indian-occupied Kashmir. “We note that he has received conflicting narratives on the cause for the confrontations”. The Indian response went on to differentiate the situation on either side of the Line of Control by claiming that Indian-occupied Kashmir had a democratically-elected government, while Azad Jammu and  Kashmir  only had an “arbitrarily appointed” diplomat as its head.

“The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is part of a pluralistic and secular democracy, where freedoms are guaranteed by an independent judiciary, an active media and a vibrant civil society,” the statement claimed, adding that AJK was administered by a “deep state” and had become “a hub for the global  export of terror.”