India slams Pakistan over Kashmir remarks (Lead)

August 12th, 2008 - 7:03 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Taking strong exception to Pakistan’s allegation about “excessive use of force” in Jammu and Kashmir, India Tuesday said such remarks constituted “clear interference in its internal affairs” and can affect the peace process between the two countries. “These statements constitute clear interference in the internal affairs of an integral part of India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna told reporters here. “Such statements by leaders of a foreign country do not help the situation,” he said.

“Nor do they contribute to creating the atmosphere necessary for the dialogue process between India and Pakistan to move forward.”

“Government of India and the state government are taking all steps necessary to restore law and order in this part of the country,” Sarna said.

He was alluding to two separate statements by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the spokesperson of the foreign office in Islamabad that expressed “concerns” over the deteriorating situation in Kashmir and attacks on life and property on Muslims in the Indian state that Pakistan claims to be part of its territory.

In a clear message to Pakistan, which is seen here as trying to cash in on simmering unrest in the Kashmir valley over a land transfer row involving the Amarnath shrine, India has made it clear that such attempts won’t succeed.

Official sources, speaking on conditional of anonymity, pointed out that Pakistan was trying to distract attention from its alleged complicity in the bombings on the Indian mission in Kabul and its alleged continued patronage of terror activities in India.

Last week, India had strongly objected to a resolution passed by Pakistan Senate on the situation in Kashmir, saying this amounted to “gross interference in its internal affairs”.

“The government of Pakistan condemns the excessive and unwarranted use of force against the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir,” Qureshi said in a statement in Islamabad late Monday night.

“We are deeply concerned over the deteriorating situation in IOK which is resulting in loss of life and property of the Kashmiri people. We call for immediate steps to end violence against innocent Kashmiris,” Qureshi said.

“It is important that an enabling environment, free of violence, is created to sustain peace process and address the long-standing dispute of Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

He also expressed “great sorrow and grief” at the “martyrdom” of Shaikh Abdul Aziz, a Hurriyat activist, in police firing Monday at a crowd of Kashmiri fruit traders who were attempting to cross the Line of Control to take their produce to Muzzarafad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, to register their protest against what they claim to be an economic blockade of the Valley by Hindu activists of Jammu.

Four other people also died in the police firing.

The statement by Pakistan’s foreign office protested the economic blockade and expressed concerns about its “serious humanitarian implications”.

“Pakistan calls for immediate steps to address the situation and prevent the human rights violations in the Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” the statement added.

Kashmir has been reeling under violence and protests since the state government’s controversial decision in May to transfer 40 hectares of land to the state-run board that manages the Amarnath shrine.

After Muslims in the valley protested the move, the government retracted the order, which in turn antagonised Hindu activists of Jammu who have been spearheading a violent agitation to protest what they term a capitulation to separatists.

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