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India accuses UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of silence on Pakistan’s state sponsorship of terror

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(representational Image) The team from the Pakistani air force makes their way to the first sector of the security forces combat arms event course. Wikimedia

United Nations, March 9, 2017: India on Thursday accused UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of being “silent” on Pakistan’s state sponsorship of terror – in an unusually strong and open criticism of the official.

“The central problem in Jammu and Kashmir is cross-border terrorism, and hence, we are a little surprised that the High Commissioner was silent regarding Pakistan that uses terrorism as an instrument of state policy,” Ajit Kumar, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN office in Geneva, told the UN Human Rights Council meeting in the Swiss city.

Kumar also took issue with Zeid for using the phrase “Indian-Administered Kashmir”, which, he said was “artificial” while referring to the Indian state.

He was responding to Zeid, who had spoken of his office’s “difficulty in obtaining access” to Jammu and Kashmir.

While presenting his annual report to the annual meeting of the Human Rights Council on Wednesday, Zeid mentioned “both sides of the Line of Control in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir” among areas where the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) could not get access.

Kumar said, “The whole state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan remains in illegal occupation of a part of our territory. The two cannot and should not be equated.

“The neutrality of the phrase ‘Indian-Administered Kashmir’ is, therefore, artificial. Furthermore, the State of Jammu and Kashmir has an elected democratic government that represents all sections of the people, unlike the situation in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.”

While acknowledging “the role sought to be played by the OHCHR in effective promotion and protection of human rights”, he questioned the way it went about it.

“More would be gained if primacy were accorded to cooperation over confrontation with the States concerned,” he said.

Kumar said that “the robust and mature Indian democracy” had proved again that it had the strength and the mechanisms to deal with internal problems resulting from external incitement.

“Normalcy has returned as 99 per cent of the students of Jammu and Kashmir have taken their high school examinations and schools have reopened,” he said.

Last week, Pakistan’s Law Minister Zahid Hamid had also brought up Zeid’s request to send a team to Kashmir.

Replying to Hamid’s statement, Kumar accused Islamabad of being the “epicentre” of terrorism and carrying out “an intense campaign to destabilise” Jammu and Kashmir through “infiltration and cross-border terrorism; inciting, promoting and glorifying violence”.

Last year during the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, Zeid cited “grave concerns about recent allegations of serious human rights violations” and asked India and Pakistan to allow a team from his office to visit Kashmir.

India, which holds that Kashmir developments are an internal matter of India, did not respond to his request.

Pakistan said if India allowed in the OHCHR team, it would also permit it to visit the part of Kashmir it occupies.

In his speech in Geneva on Wednesday, Zeid mentioned Ethiopia, Syria, south-east regions of Turkey and Venezuela along with Kashmir as areas where OHCR faced difficulty in obtaining access.

He went on to say, “In several areas where we have received indications of severe violations and where access has been refused, my office has begun remote monitoring and (deploying) fact-finding mission to neighbouring countries.” It was not clear if this applied to Jammu and Kashmir also.

Zeid did make a general statement on terrorism, but avoided mentioning state-sponsorship. “This past year has witnessed considerable bloodshed at the hands of extremists and terrorist groups and I take this opportunity to once again strongly condemn all such violations in every instance.” (IANS)

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By Advancing Interdependence, India will Bring New Dawn for Democracy in 21st Century

All citizens must be active participants in shaping the future of India

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Interdependence can be achieved by creating a country in which there is a shared understanding of the value of each citizen and a reliance on one another to eliminate discrimination. Pixabay

In his first speech after winning the election for his second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed that “…we have to win ‘sabka vishwas’ (everyones trust).” What will be required to win that trust is establishing a true state of interdependence. Interdependence can be achieved by creating a country in which there is a shared understanding of the value of each citizen and a reliance on one another to eliminate discrimination, hostility, and prejudice and to provide equality and opportunity for all. All citizens must be active participants in shaping the future of India. They must be equal partners in Indias inclusive economic mobility and in Indias shared prosperity.

Independence Day is the perfect day to highlight the importance of and advance the concept of interdependence. This can be accomplished by promoting the need for a unified India on this national holiday.

The need for doing this is critical. Unfortunately, in the period since the Prime Minister called for winning “trust” in his speech, some Indians have engaged in actions destroying it.

Sadly, the heinous crimes at the beginning of Modi’s second term are nothing new. There were several lynchings and numerous attacks on Muslims during his first term.

Interdependence, India, Democracy
In his first speech after winning the election for his second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed that “…we have to win ‘sabka vishwas’ (everyones trust).” Pixabay

Modi did not speak out vigorously then. He must do so now to demonstrate the essential leadership that will be required to create a state of interdependence. There are other serious conditions that must be addressed as well. To name just a few: sexual violence and subjugation of females continues; the caste system still exists; and, the problematic conditions of those in the weaker sections persist.

By speaking out, Prime Minister Modi can bring the country together to confront the matters that are hardening India’s democratic arteries. He cannot do that alone, however. He will need buy in and support from across the country and the citizenry.

A first step should be to “find our spiritual common ground”. That step can be initiated by recognizing that spirit is the invisible force that brings us together regardless of our caste, race, religion, region or political predisposition. The goal in discovering that common ground should be to create one nation under God. That nation would be an interdependent one and its God would be ecumenical and non-denominational. Its God would be welcoming to all.

As one nation, India would celebrate and embrace the richness of religious diversity

Also Read- BBC Decides to Expand its Shortwave Radio Service in Kashmir to Beat Communications Blackout

As one nation, India would be inclusive and accepting unity over division and hope over fear

As one nation, India would elevate citizenship above angry and mindless partisanship and bring people together to pursue the common good

As one nation, India would be the place known for sharing and caring as opposed to blaming and shaming

As one nation, India would emphasize building bridges instead of constructing boundaries and barriers

Interdependence, India, Democracy
What will be required to win that trust is establishing a true state of interdependence. Pixabay

As one nation, India would ensure that all its people are literate and equipped with the skills to succeed in the 21st century

As one nation, India would extend life lines instead of drawing battle lines

As one nation, India would be a land of big dreams, small treasures, brave people, kind deeds, and tender mercies

As one nation, India would ensure the importance of the freedom of the free press, not to bury it

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As one nation, India would be a role model and exemplar for other democracies to emulate

Everyone must play a role in establishing India as one nation. Each citizen should engage in small acts of kindness by reaching out to those less fortunate and to the downtrodden by extending a helping hand and a hand up.

Some people can make special contributions. Religious leaders should promote interfaith dialogue. They should bring people together followers of different persuasions for meaningful conversations. They should promote a dialogue of understanding and a shared sense of community with other faiths. They should call the fact that attack on one faith is attack on all faiths. Political leaders should promote a framework of unity and civility. Civic and community leaders should promote collaboration in problem-solving. They should toil together their creeds to plant the seeds for doing good deeds.

There is no better day on which to resume our journey than Independence Day. There is no better way to make that journey than to chart a course to interdependence. By reaching that destination, India will establish itself as the beacon of hope for democracy worldwide. By realizing that potential, India will bring a new dawn for democracy in this 21st century. (IANS)