Turkey, Asia - Pacific

Muslims, Kashmiris grateful to Turkey: Pakistani envoy

Pakistani ambassador thanks Turkey for its 'unwavering' support to Kashmiris, at a Kashmir Solidarity event in Ankara

Muslims, Kashmiris grateful to Turkey: Pakistani envoy

By Riyaz ul Khaliq and Vakkas Dogantekin


Pakistan's top envoy in Turkey thanked the country for its continuous support to the cause of Kashmir during an event held in the Turkish capital.

Addressing the participants at an event organized by the Turkish think-tank Economic&Social Researches Center (ESAM) to mark the Kashmir Solidarity Day, Pakistani Ambassador to Turkey Syrus Sajjad Qazi said that Muslims are grateful to the people of Turkey.

"The people of Pakistan, the Kashmiris across the globe, the members of the Muslim Ummah and indeed every person with a conscience, is truly grateful to the people of Turkey for their unambiguous, unwavering, unequivocal support for the just struggle of the Kashmiri people," said Qazi.

Kashmir Solidarity Day -- first proposed by Qazi Hussain Ahmad -- is commemorated on Feb. 5 every year since 1990 by Pakistan and its friendly nations across the globe as a mark of solidarity with people living in Indian-administered Kashmir.

During his speech, Qazi slammed India for committing "grave human rights violations" in its part of Kashmir.

"Peaceful protests and even funerals are being attacked by Indian forces in Indian occupied Kashmir," Qazi said.

Recalling the use of pellet guns by Indian forces against civilians, Qazi stressed that "there is an international outcry against its use" and called for "an immediate ban of the practice".

"But the Indian forces are using the pellets to maim and blind innocent Kashmiris," the ambassador said.

"The Kashmiris are being collectively punished," he said, "but the demand for the right to self-determination by Kashmiris remains unshaken," Qazi added.

Referring to a UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) report on Kashmir released last June, the Pakistani ambassador expressed his hope about the growing interest of the international community to the situation in Kashmir.

The UNHRC report highlighted "the gross and systematic violations of human rights" and called for "formation of a Commission of Inquiry under UN auspices to investigate and hold the perpetrators accountable."

Qazi urged the UN to take "decisive action" on Kashmir in light of the reports and resolutions by UNHRC, British parliament's All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir and Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.

Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984.

A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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