A Canada-based Pakistani Islamist has claimed that constant assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein was at his disposal while he was preparing a report on the alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. Also Read - Dal Lake Freezes, Srinagar Records Coldest Night in 30 Years, Administration Deploys SDRF Teams
Based in Toronto, the Islamist named Zafar Bangash who is an Imam at the Islamic Society of York Region’s mosque, spoke at a conference on Kashmir in Canada’s Mississauga. He said, “I can say it to you, and I say it with all humility, but with great pride that we ‘The Friends of Kashmir’ also have a role in the production of this report. In fact, I had personal correspondence with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, e-mail correspondence in which he responded to my personal letter and e-mail saying that he would like to have access to both sides of Line of Control.” Also Read - Suspected Militants Lob Grenade at CRPF Party In Srinagar’s Rainawari Area, No Casualty Reported
Releasing the first human rights report on Kashmir on June 14, the UN accused the security forces of both the countries of having contributed to the gross human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The report criticised Pakistan for employing anti-terror legislation to crack down on activists. Similarly, it accused India of using excessive force on civilians that led to unlawful killings, injuring many in the process.
The UN report elicited a strong protest from India for being “fallacious, tendentious and motivated” and a “compilation of unverified information”. Spearheaded by UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the 49-page report condemned the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA) and categorised pellet guns as one of the most dangerous weapons.
At the conference, Bangash claimed, “I responded to him (Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein) after speaking to the Foreign Office spokesperson in Pakistan, Nafees Zakaria, who used to be the Consul General in Toronto and he assured that Pakistan would welcome the UN High Commissioner and their representatives to Pakistan and they will facilitate their visit…”
President of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan was also present at the event.