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By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, Sept 10 (Reuters) – Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the top United Nations human rights forum on Tuesday that India’s “illegal military occupation” of the Muslim-majority territory of Kashmir raises the spectre of “genocide”. India revoked the autonomy of the disputed Himalayan region, home to 8 million people and a flashpoint for the nuclear-armed neighbours, on Aug. 5.
“The forlorn, traumatised towns, mountains, plains and valleys of Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir reverberate today, with the grim reminders of Rwanda, Srebrenica, the Rohingya, and the pogrom of Gujarat,” Qureshi told the U.N. Human Rights Council.
“The people of Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir are apprehending the worst…I shudder to mention the word genocide here, but I must…The Kashmiri people in the occupied territory – as a national, ethnic, racial and religious group of people – face grave threats to their lives, way of living and livelihoods from a murderous, misogynistic and xenophobic regime,” he said.
There was no immediate comment from India in the council.
India and Pakistan both rule parts of Kashmir while claiming it in full. They have fought two wars over the region and their forces regularly trade fire across a 740-km (466-mile) Line of Control, which is the de facto border.
India flooded the Kashmir valley with troops, restricted movements and cut off communication as Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew special rights for the region on Aug. 5. Mobile and internet connections have been cut off ever since.
Qureshi, speaking to reporters in Geneva, said: “I do not see in the present environment any possibility of a bilateral engagement with India.” He urged U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council to help defuse tensions.
“Today 8 million people are in prison, deprived of every political and civil liberty. The world cannot remain silent and the world should not remain silent. And if they do, they will be part of this criminal negligence,” he said.
India has battled separatist militants in its part of Kashmir since the late 1980s, accusing Muslim Pakistan of supporting them. Pakistan denies that, saying it only offers political support to the people of Kashmir. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay Editing by Mark Heinrich)