The Hindustan Times – India, Pakistan discuss implementation of Indus Waters Treaty projects

The 115th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was held in Lahore on August 29-30

New Delhi – India, 31 August 2018. India and Pakistan have discussed the implementation of various hydroelectric projects under the Indus Waters Treaty during the 115th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) in Lahore on August 29-30, the External Affairs Ministry said on Friday.

“As per the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, technical discussions were held on the implementation of various hydroelectric projects, including Pakal Dul (1,000 MW) and Lower Kalnai(48 MW) in Jammu and Kashmir,” the Ministry said in a statement.

“Both the countries agreed to undertake the Treaty-mandated tours of both the Indus Commissioners in the Indus basin on both sides,” it said.

“Deliberations were also held on further strengthening the role of the Permanent Indus Commission on matters falling under the Treaty purview.”

The treaty was signed in 1960 and involves the Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers.

Brokered by the World Bank, the treaty gave the right to use waters of the first three rivers to India and of the other three to Pakistan.

India has said it has the right under the treaty to set up hydroelectric plants on the tributaries of the rivers flowing through its territory. Pakistan fears this might reduce the water flow into its territory.

During the Lahore talks, the Indian side was led by P K Saxena, the Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters.


The Hindustan Times – As Ladakh becomes unsafe, Kung Fu nuns train girls in self-defence

At least 40 girl students, in the age group of 12 to 20, participated in the event and learned the techniques to protect themselves.

Leh – Ladakh – India, 01 August 2018. Fourteen Buddhist nuns, who are specialized in Kungfu, imparted self-defence training to the local girls in a six-day workshop which concluded at Naro Photang Hemis on Wednesday.

At least 40 girl students, in the age group of 12 to 20, participated in the event and learned the techniques to protect themselves.

Reflecting on the motive behind the workshop, the program executive of the organizing body, Rigzin Angmo said that the incidents of harassment against women are increasing with each passing day in the region and Kungfu is a good way to shield ourselves from the social evils.

“Since many years, we have seen an influx of tourists in Ladakh. Ladakh is not a peaceful and safe area anymore.

We have seen many heinous crimes, we have seen many sexual molestation, eve-teasing and it is increasing day by day. In this kind of situation, I believe that when women are empowered and they know self-defence, they can do much better,” Angmo said.

“At least we can have some shield over us. That’s why we thought of organizing the self-defence workshop. At least, girls can feel safer in our homeland,” she added.

Girls, who participated in the event, were ecstatic to be a part of the workshop as they admitted that the workshop has helped them in boosting their confidence.

Talking about the need to conduct such workshops, one of the participants, Padma Youron said that the society is not a safe place and if your confidence level is high then you could deal with any kind of situation.

“During the course of learning Kungfu, my confidence level has increased and we were taught a lot of techniques to tackle social miscreants.

I felt the need to learn Kungfu as the society is not a safe area and if the confidence level of a girl is low then she does nothing to protect herself,” Youron said.

The Hindu – Kathua rape and murder case: J&K Crime Branch files supplementary charge sheet

It includes medical opinion about the effect of sedatives on the victim as well as the location of son of Sanji Ram, alleged to be the mastermind behind the abduction and killing.

Jammu/Pathankot – J&K/Panjab, 30 July 2018. The Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Crime Branch on Monday filed a supplementary charge sheet before a Pathankot court in the case of rape and murder of an eight-year-old from a minority nomadic community in Kathua, officials said.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch) R K Jalla, accompanied by Special Public Prosecutor J K Chopra and other lawyers, submitted the charge sheet before District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh, the officials said.

The charge sheet includes medical opinion about the effect of sedatives on the victim as well as the location of Vishal, son of Sanji Ram, alleged to be the mastermind behind the abduction and killing in January this year. Vishal had claimed he had never visited Kathua.

The Crime Branch has arrested Ram, Vishal and his juvenile nephew, two special police officers Deepak Khajuria alias ‘Dipu’ and Surender Verma and friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu. All of them were named in the first charge sheet on April 9.

It also arrested Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence. Raj and Dutta have since been dismissed from service.

Destruction of evidence

The supplementary charge sheet has summed up the investigation, alleging that Kumar was not only in constant touch with co-accused Khajuria, but also in contact with Raj.

Raj is believed to have played a pivotal role in striking a deal between Ram and the police for destruction of evidence.

The charge sheet also submitted Kumar’s detailed call analysis to show he shared a common location with other accused on crucial dates of crime and immediately thereafter.

The duration of the calls made and their frequency increased after the rape and murder of the girl, leading to the “irresistible conclusion of knee deep involvement of accused Surinder Kumar with other accused…”, the charge sheet stated.

Cash withdrawn to bribe police’

The Crime Branch also conducted an analysis of the two bank accounts of Ram, custodian of the temple where the child was allegedly confined, and found he made huge cash withdrawals.

Witness statements recorded by the Crime Branch confirmed the accused had undertaken no constructional activity and had no social obligation either, the document said.

The charge sheet alleged that the withdrawals were made to bribe the police officers for destruction of evidence.

Earlier this month, the Crime Branch informed the Supreme Court that it would submit a supplementary charge sheet in the case. The court had given them eight weeks to file it.

The district and sessions court in Pathankot framed charges of rape and murder against the seven accused in the case on June 8.

Ram is alleged to have hatched the conspiracy with the other accused for kidnapping the girl as part of a strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area.

Daily News – Elections 2018 and Kashmiri demographics

At a time when India is all set to decimate the Kashmiri youth and disturb the Muslim majority character of Jammu and Kashmir, we have made the gross error of not keeping a count of people of Kashmiri origin in Azad Kashmir’s electoral roll.

Dr Syed Nazir Gilani

Op/Ed 23 July 2018. The last election of May 11, 2013 placed Pakistan on the radar as a country which in addition to Muslims is a home to seven non-Muslim communities. These are namely Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Bahais and Buddhists.

Except for the boycott of some 200,000 members of the Ahmadi community, 1.40 million Hindus, 1.23 million Christians, 5,934 Sikhs, 3,650 Parsis, 1,452 Buddhists and 809 Jews played a crucial role in 96 constituencies. Of the seven minority communities living in the country, Hindus constitute the largest group.

Elections 2018 are being held in a charged political climate. There are accusations of favouritism and micromanagement of the electoral process.

Ahead of the polls, there have been several cries of pre-poll rigging.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is questioning the fairness of the process and the manner in which justice has been administered in its cases. It is understandable that Mian Nawaz Sharif could not be the only erring politician since 1947, who allegedly parked his wealth outside the country.

There is an important community comprising of five generations of persecuted people. They are designated as Kashmiri refugees living in all the provinces of Pakistan.

They are entitled to vote not only for the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies of Pakistan but after the 13th amendment, they also vote for 12 seats in now a 53 member Legislative Assembly of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

These people fall under the State Subject Law of April 20, 1927. There are other Kashmiris (Pakistanis of Kashmiri origin), who left the State during the famine of 1832 and the epidemic of 1867 and settled in various parts of British India. A majority of them settled in Amritsar and Lahore.

These Kashmiris are entitled to vote in the UN supervised referendum. It is unfortunate that they are not listed in the electoral college of Azad Kashmir or identified for the future UN supervised referendum.

At a time when India is all set to decimate the Kashmiri youth and disturb the Muslim majority character of Jammu and Kashmir, we have made the gross error of not keeping a count of people of Kashmiri origin in Azad Kashmiri’s electoral roll.

We need to counter Indian efforts to bring about an unnatural demographic change by keeping a proper count of people of Kashmiri origin. So far, this threat has missed our attention.

Easily identifiable families of Kashmiri origin in Pakistan are: the families of Khawaja Nazim-ud-Din, the second Governor General of Pakistan, Haji Manzoor Hussain, (1922-1985) also known as Bholu Pahalwan, Mian Amirud Din, Sheikh Masood Sadiq and Sheikh Sadiq Hasan, Javed Iqbal, Agha Hasher, the Sharifs, Ayaz Sadiq (Sheikh), Justice Badiuz Zaman Kaikaus, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, Kirmanis, Agha Husher, Shorish, Dar, Mir, Malik and other families living all over Pakistan.

The PML-N cabinet was full of Pakistanis of Kashmiri origin. Over a crore Pakistani voters of Kashmiri origin are likely to vote in the Pakistan election 2018. A quarter of this number votes for the 12 refugee seats in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.

The merits of numerical and qualitative presence of Kashmiris in the National and Provincial politics of Pakistan are not translated in the manifestoes of the major political parties contesting the elections. The PML-N manifesto makes a passing reference to UN resolutions, aspirations of the people and 1999 Lahore Declaration to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

Compared to the PML-N and PTI manifestoes, the PPP manifesto covers Kashmir with a commendable degree of seriousness [centre/italics]

The PML-N manifesto has committed itself to an Aadha Teetar Aadha Bater concern on Kashmir. The first part is a generic routine and the addition of 1999 Lahore Declaration, has its demerits. This declaration has disturbed the core position of Kashmir and has rendered it one of the eight outstanding issues.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) manifesto has included Kashmir among the four basic issues of interest. There is no other qualifying reference beyond this passing mention of the word Kashmir.

As against PML-N and PTI manifestoes, Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) manifesto covers Kashmir with a commendable degree of seriousness.

It makes a proper reference to Kashmir and points out that “We strongly believe that countries that are in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions on matters of international peace and security, such as the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, by no means qualify for a special status in the Security Council.”

Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution (Thirteenth Amendment) Act, 2018 does not disturb the principal role of the Government of Pakistan in the affairs of Azad Kashmir and its duties assumed under UNCIP resolutions.

Azad Kashmir Assembly has been duly empowered and the Azad Kashmir Government would have massive powers under Article 51-A.

All this empowerment is people-specific and aimed towards better governance and securing self-determination under UN Charter and according to the UNCIP Resolutions through the democratic method of free and fair plebiscite. Pakistan keeps an exclusive control of 54 subjects listed in ‘Part-A’ and ‘Part-B’ of the Third Schedule.

There would be fresh appreciation and appraisal of interaction between the Government of Pakistan and the Government of Azad Kashmir. This change and the ongoing repression in the Indian occupied Kashmir are not reflected in the manifestoes of PML-N and PTI.

The General assembly session of September 2018 is around the corner. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report on Kashmir and its endorsement by the UN Secretary General are very serious developments.

It seems that PML-N and PTI have not done the proper homework on Kashmir and have addressed Kashmir simply as a matter of routine. The two parties need to revisit their narratives on this issue.

The writer is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court, heads London based JKCHR — NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. He can be reached at

FirstPost – Jammu and Kashmir Police detain suspects over stabbing and harassment of Sikh girl

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 09 July 2018. Police have registered a case in connection with the alleged stabbing and harassment of a girl belonging to the minority Sikh community and studying at a university in south Kashmir, and started questioning the suspects.

The girl, studying at the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Awantipora, in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, has alleged she was stabbed by unidentified motorcycle-borne assailants last week.

The girl, a resident of Tral, also alleged that a group of students, including a woman, put pressure on her to offer prayers during the fasting month of Ramzan and “mentally tortured” her for the past one month to “convert”.

“A case has been registered and investigations taken up,” a police official said.

“Some of them have been detained. We are questioning them,” the official added, refusing to share further details.

Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police SP Vaid confirmed that the police were investigating the matter.

“Case registered. Suspect has been identified and being questioned,” Vaid wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah appealed to the police and university authorities to look into the issue.

“The authorities, both at IUST and the @JmuKmrPolice/@JKgrievance need to look into this and address it. Denying anything happened without even a cursory investigation is not the way to instill confidence,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

A statement from the university refuted the allegations of harassment of the student.

“The university refutes all allegations and requests all the civilised citizens of the country to not take any heed to any rumours and conspiracies of all those mischievous elements who are always there to create mistrust and dilute the harmony and diversity of the country.

These elements are trying to further their selfish interests by creating a divide in society through propaganda,” the statement said.

FirstPost – Sikh organisation stages protest against attack on girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Tral

Jammu – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 07 July 2018. Members of a Sikh organisation on Saturday staged a protest in Jammu, demanding action over the alleged attack on a girl in Kashmir earlier this week.

The Sikh Youth Sewa Trust held a demonstration at the Exhibition Ground and raised slogans in support of their demand. A video of the girl, a student of the Islamic University of Science and Technology, narrating her ordeal has also gone viral on social media.

The girl, a resident of Gandhpora Tral, in the video, claimed that she was attacked by two men riding a motorcycle with a sharp-edged weapon on 2 July when she was going to the university.

She said she suffered injuries to her arm and alleged that no action was taken against the culprits even after an FIR was registered the next day. However, a police officer said investigation is in progress after taking suo motu cognisance of the incident.

The BJP on 3 July had raised the issue, claiming that the girl, belonging to the minority Sikh community, was attacked by the men at the Tral bus stand.

Station House Officer (SHO), Tral, Mohammad Yousuf said the complainant in the FIR is not the girl or her family members, but the police.

“We took suo motu cognisance of the incident and registered an FIR. We have already recorded the statement of the girl and her father, and further investigation is on,” he said.

“They have been given the copy of the FIR and we are working on different angles to crack the case,” the SHO said.

The girl, in the video, also alleged that some of her classmates, including a girl, harassed her during Ramzan.

She also alleged that she was forced to observe fast and wear a headscarf by her classmates, and indicated a link between it and the incident. The girl said she has already raised the issue with the varsity’s vice chancellor.

The Statesman – Kashmir Editors Guild condemns BJP leader’s ‘threat’ remarks

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir, 23 June 2018. Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) on Saturday condemned the statement of former Minister and BJP leader Choudhary Lal Singh who, a day ago, said Kashmiri journalists must be aware of their conduct after the killing of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari.

“Invoking the brutal assassination of senior editor Shujaat Bukhari, Singh has suggested to the Kashmir media to draw a line and to decide if they have to work the way he (Bukhari) was working. Singh has moved way ahead and issued a direct threat to the media in Kashmir,” the KEG said in a statement.

The editors’ body further said: “Lal Singh has accused the Kashmir media of creating a wrong atmosphere”.

The KEG said Lal Singh had invoked Shujaat Bukhari’s murder at a time when police in Srinagar was investigating the case and that his statement indicated that he holds some information about the murder which must be investigated.

Lal Singh, who resigned from the cabinet in April following his participation in a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in January in support of those accused of rape and murder of a young girl in Kathua, made the remarks in a presser on Friday.

The Guild said they reserved the right to lodge a police case against the lawmaker who had earlier named a number of reporters for his “fall from grace in wake of the Kathua probe”.

The Hindu – Kashmiris will prefer freedom: Saifuddin Soz

Congress plans action against Soz

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 22 June 2018. Senior Congress politician from Kashmir Saifuddin Soz in his upcoming book Kashmir Glimpses of History and the story of the struggle, writes that former Pakistan President General Parvez Musharraf had convinced his colleagues that the UN resolution on Kashmir which offers the option of either going with India or Pakistan is redundant.

“Musharraf had explained that if Kashmiris were given a chance to exercise their free will, they would prefer to be independent. In fact, this assessment of Musharraf seems to be correct even today”, Mr. Soz writes, quoting sources, in the last chapter of his book “Kashmir — the way forward.”

Fearing a repeat of the Mani Shankar Aiyar episode and handing over a stick to the BJP to beat it with, the Congress has swiftly declared that suitable action will be taken against Mr Soz. “The Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress committee will decide and take appropriate action,” Congress media-incharge Randeep Surjewala said on Friday.

Mr Soz did not reply to the phone call or text messages sent by The Hindu.

Mr Surjewala said that “stray statements” should not divert from the actual agenda.

Mr Soz’s book comes at a time when the Congress has launched a campaign against the BJP and the PDP for derailing the peace process in Kashmir.

In Indian politics facts are not liked. I have known, both from informal sources and from opinion polls, that if there is a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir there is a good chance that most voters will vote for independence.
Man in Blue

BBC News – Viewpoint: Why the Kashmir government fall is a tragedy

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 22 June 2018. The break-up of the three-year-old coalition government in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is a setback for peace hopes in the region. The so-called “unnatural” alliance between the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the only way forward, writes Sumantra Bose.

How, it was asked, could the PDP, a pro-autonomy party formed in 1999, and the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party which has advocated a disciplinarian approach to Kashmir since the early 1950s, cohabit and co-operate?

Their arrangement prompted puzzlement and derision but this missed a vital point. The constructive potential of the coalition lay precisely in its “unnatural” quality, because it signalled engagement between very different perspectives on the Kashmir conflict.

There is international precedence for this kind of path based on engagement and negotiation between sworn adversaries professing incompatible objectives.

It ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland after 1998, and eventually induced Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists, both hardline parties, to jointly lead a power-sharing government for almost a decade from 2007, a once unthinkable scenario.

The great Nelson Mandela justified his engagement with the apartheid regime in order to craft a transition pact in South Africa thus: “You negotiate with your enemies, not your friends.

Their arrangement prompted puzzlement and derision but this missed a vital point. The constructive potential of the coalition lay precisely in its “unnatural” quality, because it signalled engagement between very different perspectives on the Kashmir conflict.

There is international precedence for this kind of path based on engagement and negotiation between sworn adversaries professing incompatible objectives.

It ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland after 1998, and eventually induced Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists, both hardline parties, to jointly lead a power-sharing government for almost a decade from 2007 – a once unthinkable scenario.

The great Nelson Mandela justified his engagement with the apartheid regime in order to craft a transition pact in South Africa thus: “You negotiate with your enemies, not your friends.”

Five things to know about Kashmir:

  • India and Pakistan have disputed the territory for nearly 70 years – since independence from Britain
  • Both countries claim the whole territory but control only parts of it
  • Two out of three wars fought between India and Pakistan centred on Kashmir
  • Since 1989 there has been an armed revolt in the Muslim-majority region against rule by India
  • High unemployment and complaints of heavy-handed tactics by security forces have aggravated the problem

The coalition in Jammu and Kashmir was formed in March 2015 after elections produced a hung legislature. The two largest parties were the PDP, which won most of the seats from the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, and the BJP, which won most of the seats from the Hindu-majority Jammu region.

The fractured result – the PDP won 28 seats in the 87-member legislature, while the BJP took 25, threw up the intriguing possibility of partnership. Narendra Modi had led to his party to a parliamentary majority in India’s general elections just seven months earlier.

Mr Modi flew over from Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony in Jammu in person, after two months of behind-the-scenes negotiations.

The defining image was of him clasping PDP leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the new head of the state government, in a bear-hug. Behind them was a table adorned with equal-sized versions of India’s national tricolour and the state flag of Jammu and Kashmir.

Hindu nationalists object to the state flag, as Indian states do not usually have their own flags.

In an article on this website just after the PDP-BJP government took office, I noted that the coalition offered the prospect of ameliorating two of the three major dimensions of the Kashmir conflict:

The other dimension – the India-Pakistan antagonism which has its focal point in the common fixation on Kashmir was another matter. India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir in its entirety but control only parts of it.

The coalition was based on a detailed written agreement called the “Agenda of Alliance”.

This was a joint statement which undertook to preserve the article of India’s constitution that nominally grants special autonomous status and to review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa), under which the Indian army has carte blanche power.

The document’s ambition went much further. “The purpose of this alliance”, it stated, “is to catalyse reconciliation and confidence-building within and across the Line of Control [with Pakistani-administered Kashmir]” and “to [help] normalise the relationship with Pakistan”.

In order “to widen the ambit of democracy through inclusive politics”, the agenda stated, “the coalition government will facilitate and help initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all internal stakeholders irrespective of their ideological views”, a reference to the significant pro-independence and pro-Pakistan groups and their leaders in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Moreover, the agreement promised to work towards “enhancing people-to-people contact across the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the disputed territory, by encouraging civil society exchanges and taking travel, commerce, trade and business across the line of control to the next level”.

On paper, the charter of the PDP-BJP coalition government represented both a vision and a roadmap for resolving the Kashmir conflict.

But it remained just that, on paper. When I referred to the document as the political equivalent of toilet paper during interactions with students and youth in the Kashmir valley in mid-2017, no one laughed at the black humour.

In hindsight, any prospect of advancing the vision-cum-roadmap ended with the death of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed at the start of 2016.

Sayeed, a wily veteran of both Kashmiri and Indian politics over six decades, may have tried in due course to hold the BJP to the letter and spirit of the alliance charter, and pulled the plug if it did not.

His daughter Mehbooba Mufti, who succeeded him, proved to be an unmitigated disaster as chief minister.

She passively continued with the paralysed, dysfunctional coalition government after renewed turmoil gripped the valley from July 2016, until the BJP pulled the plug in June 2018.

The timing of the BJP’s move may be explained by a decision to project an untrammelled mailed-fist in the restive and recalcitrant valley in the countdown to India’s general election in April-May 2019.

But that still leaves the question of why, three years ago, Mr Modi’s party made a pact with an “unnatural partner”.

The explanation that the BJP simply wanted to get into government in yet another state, and India’s only Muslim-majority state, at that, has merit, but is not fully convincing.

What is clear is that Mr Modi decided not to emulate the diplomacy-based and healing-touch strategy that Atal Behari Vajpayee, India’s first Hindu nationalist prime minister, doggedly pursued vis-à-vis Kashmir (and Pakistan) in the very difficult period between 1999 and 2004.

In August 2016, a month after mass protests gripped the valley for the first time since the summer of 2010, Mr Modi framed the problem, in an address to an all-party meeting in Delhi convened by his government, as simply one of “cross-border terrorism”.

In April 2017, in a speech to a large political rally in the Jammu region, he called on the valley’s angry youth to abjure “terrorism” and instead seek “progress through tourism”, citing “every Indian’s dream of visiting Kashmir [at least] once”.

The PDP-BJP coalition government of 2015-2018 is the newest addition to the overflowing dustbin of the Kashmir conflict’s 70-year history. But, and this is the irony, the vision and the roadmap articulated in the 2015 Agenda of Alliance represents the only feasible path to a better future.

Such a future will need to bring together many unnatural partners in a pragmatic compromise.

Sumantra Bose is Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). His latest book, Secular States, Religious Politics: India, Turkey, and the Future of Secularism has just been published by Cambridge University Press.

Dawn – Pakistan wants UN team to visit both AJK, held Kashmir

The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 22 June 2018. Pakistan on Thursday expressed its willingness to receive the United Nations’ Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), but impliedly again conditioned it with New Delhi also agreeing to the commission’s visit to India-held Kashmir.

Pakistan was ready for a commission of inquiry to visit both AJK and held Kashmir, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said at the weekly media briefing apparently linking the acceptance of the commission to its visits to both parts of Kashmir.

Mr Faisal exhorted India to accept the commission.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had called for setting up of a Commission of Inquiry, the UN’s highest-level probe, to investigate human rights violations in Kashmir.

The call followed the first report on Kashmir by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The report that pointed to impunity for rights abuses and lack of access to justice in India-held Kashmir; and certain administrative, constitutional and legislative issues related to Azad Kashmir, was welcomed by Pakistan, but rejected by India.

The report had mentioned that neither India nor Pakistan allowed unconditional access to territories under their control for investigations for preparation of the document.

The findings were then based on “remote monitoring of the situation” in the two parts of Kashmir. India had refused to allow the UN visit, while Pakistan linked its permission to India allowing the UN team to tour held Kashmir.

The spokesman challenged India to allow the UN team to access the occupied valley. “India can address its claims of the (OHCHR) report being based on unverified information by allowing the COI and OIC Independent Permanent Hum­an Rights Commission access to held Kashmir.”

Mr Faisal further said: “The isolation of India in the international community is complete. The skeletons in Indian closet are growing in numbers and size.” The spokesman further asked the Indian government to hold an independent, transparent and credible probe into the assassination of Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bokhari.

Mr Bokhari was assassinated by unidentified gunmen while leaving his office on June 14.

He said that Mr Bokhari’s murder was manifestation of Indian state terrorism and reflection of intolerance of Indian state apparatus which wants to stifle freedom of speech and expression.

“The Indian government remains fearful of international exposition of the brutalisation of occupied Jammu & Kashmir. India can run, but can it hide? This remains to be seen,” he added.

The spokesman praised slain Bokhari as a vocal voice, who consistently spoke out against human rights abuses in held Kashmir and strongly advocated the need for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

Mr Faisal also expressed concern over imposition of the governor rule in India-held Kashmir.

The valley was put under the governor rule on Wednesday after PDP-BJP coalition government collapsed as the two allies decided to part ways.

The spokesman said that the ongoing bloodshed in held Kashmir along with Indian statements about the crackdown in the valley shows an alarming Indian imperviousness to international opinion.