Pakistan expresses ‘deep concerns’ over Kashmir violence

August 12th, 2008 - 3:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad/New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Pakistan has expressed “deep concerns” over “excessive and unwarranted use of force” against Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, saying this should immediately stop. “The government of Pakistan condemns the excessive and unwarranted use of force against the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a statement late Monday night.

In a separate statement, the Pakistani foreign office also expressed “deep concerns” at attacks on the life and property of Muslims in the Kashmir Valley and the “economic blockade by extremist elements”.

“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,” Qureshi added.

He also expressed “great sorrow and grief” at the death 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 Kashmir valley by Hindu activists of Jammu.

Four other people also died in the police firing.

The foreign office statement protested against 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.

The Indian external affairs ministry has yet to formally react to the Pakistani statements.

However, official sources said Pakistan was trying to distract attention from its alleged complicity in the bombings on the Indian mission in Kabul and was trying to capitalise on the crisis in Kashmir over the land transfer row surrounding the Amarnath shrine.

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

“Such a resolution amounts to gross interference in our internal affairs. The Senate should attend to issues where it has a locus standi,” the external affairs ministry here said.

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.

Under pressure, the government retracted the order, which in turn antagonized Hindu activists of Jammu who have been spearheading a violent agitation to protest what they term a capitulation to separatists.

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