India on Tuesday said that Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari raising the Kashmir issue at a United Nations Security Council debate on women, peace and security was malicious and false propaganda.

During a debate held under Mozambique’s presidency for this month, on the eve of International Women’s Day, Zardari said that women continue to be the principal victims of war and conflict.

“The most egregious crimes against women and girls occur in situations of foreign occupations and suppression of the right to self-determination of people,” he added. “Here, the very object of violence is to suppress the civilian population. This is manifested most vividly in the occupied Palestinian territories and occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”

Zardari also said that it is essential to establish monetary mechanisms for crimes committed against women and girls in “territories under foreign occupations”, including in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, dismissed his statement as baseless. “My delegation considers it unworthy to even respond to such malicious and false propaganda,” she added. “Rather, our focus is where it shall always be – positive and forward-looking.”

Relations between India and Pakistan worsened in 2019 after the Centre revoked Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

New Delhi has consistently held that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and has opposed any outside interference in the region.