A think tank in Europe has raised strong objections to a 49-page Pakistan-centric report on Jammu and Kashmir prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The Government of India, has already described the report as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated” and a “selective compilation of largely unverified information” that is “overtly prejudiced” and seeks to build a false narrative.
The European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) maintains that this first ever report on Jammu and Kashmir authored by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, “displays a pronounced pro-Pakistan bias” with regard to the human rights situation on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC).
It further criticizes Al Hussein for “being unfairly and unreasonably critical of India’s human rights record”, and for glossing over the issue of cross-border terrorism being perpetrated by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir.
EFSAS says the OHCHR report titled “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir: Developments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan”, has “serious methodological, factual and analytical shortcomings that render its correctness, neutrality, and above all motives, highly dubious.”
It questions the timing of the report, its narrow time-frame of about two years, the appalling use of inappropriate terminology that contradict commonly used UN terms and the indirect, unverified and incredible basis on which serious inferences have been loosely drawn.
EFSAS finds the report flawed for the following counts:
- The intriguing fact that the OHCHR report’s starting point is from July 2016, when militant Burhan Wani was eliminated during an encounter, rather than 1947 or before that. This, it says, is enlightening, as it puts the author’s motivation and predisposition in clear perspective.
- The report ignores the indubitable fact that the then princely state of Jammu and Kashmir had chosen to accede to India in 1947 on its own volition, under a legally binding ‘Instrument of Accession’ under the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947.
- The report ignores the fact that Pakistan is in illegal occupation of a sizeable part of Jammu and Kashmir since 1947, and is responsible for the forced separation of an entire people, alienated existing family structures and destroyed the social fabric of the state.
- EFSAS says that author Al Hussein should at least be aware of what happened in Jammu and Kashmir about 30 years ago. Surely he would know that in the late-1980s, Pakistan created dozens of terrorist groups on its territory; funded them, provided training to several thousand young men so that they could carry out horrific attacks on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir and in other parts of that country.
- The report ignores the fact that this cross-border terrorism continues unabated, and has so far, claimed the lives of close to 14,000 civilians and over 5,000 security personnel.
- The author mischievously chooses to use term “armed groups” as many as 38 times in his report to describe globally recognized terrorist outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-eMohammed and Harakat Ul-Mujahidin, which are already included in the UN Security Council’s banned or sanctioned list.
- The great rush to issue the report speaks volumes about the motivation of the author, the questionable methods and basis adopted for its preparation.
- Propriety demands that an office as exalted as that of the OHCHR carry out due diligence on a report on an issue as weighty as Kashmir, rather than superficially attempt a biased, agenda-driven account based on an artificially imposed timeline.
- There is blatant disregard by the OHCHR of the sanctity of the UN, which has only served to question the credibility of an already beleaguered world body.
- That Al Hussein has chosen to use terms commonly used by Pakistan, reflects a complete lack of neutrality and an affirmative pro-Pakistan bias.
- In Al Hussein’s view, Burhan Wani is not a Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) terrorist, but a “leader” of the armed group, HM. He ignores the fact that HM is already designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and India.
- What is also questionable and objectionable, according to EFSAS, is Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) being described as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” on 26 occasions in the report. Al Hussein, being part of the UN organogram, should have known that the UN refers to PoK as Pakistan-Administered Kashmir. Experts believe that Al Hussein has violated this resolution through usage of terms such as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir”, leaving no one in doubt about his personal biases or his lack of qualm about using his high office to promote them.
- EFSAS also finds its untenable and surprising that Al Hussein did not have access to as much quantitative or qualitative information from PoK or the Government of Pakistan as it did from Indian-administered Kashmir and the Government of India.
- The report itself admits that it is primarily based on secondary sources of information, suggesting that the author falsely and maliciously try to convey the impression of the report being balanced.
- Al Hussein has shown the ultimate disrespect for the UNHRC, an organization he is mandated with guiding, by completely disregarding the valuable information that is made available to it at the various sessions it hosts every year.
- The OHCHR report takes no cognizance of the vast amounts of information, a sizeable portion of it based on first hand experiences shared at the UNHRC sessions, renders both the credibility of the report and the motive of its author, Al Hussein, highly suspect.