Pakistan on Thursday rejected the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, calling the move “illegal and void”. The country’s foreign ministry alleged that the objective of these “unilateral changes” was to alter the region’s demographic structure.

“The illegal and unilateral changes effected by India are in no way an ‘internal matter’ as the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains on the agenda of the Security Council,” Islamabad said. “The international community must take notice that transfer of civilian population from outside into IOJ&K is in grave violation of the international laws particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

It asked India to “stop brutalising the innocent Kashmiris who are suffering under its illegal occupation for the last seven decades” and “immediately withdraw its military forces from the region, remove draconian laws, restore basic human rights of the people, free all detainees, lift all restrictions on the free movement and communications, allow unimpeded and full access to the UN and other international human rights observers, including independent foreign media”.

Islamabad said it was “imperative that India implements the UN Security Council Resolutions on the right of Kashmiris to self-determination, without further prevarication”.

The statement came hours after China also condemned India. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said “India’s unilateral move challenges China’s sovereignty by revising India’s domestic law and administrative division”, which is “illegal and invalid”. Both the countries claim sovereignty over the disputed Aksai Chin region, which Beijing controls.

Germany calls for restraint

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who is in India on a three-day official visit led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told Hindustan Times on Friday that the constitutional amendments were India’s internal matter. “As a close democratic partner to India, it is important to us – and we have expressed this view clearly – that the rights of the local population in Jammu and Kashmir enshrined in the Constitution must be respected,” he added.

Maas said “both sides should continue to use their diplomatic channels to foster political dialogue”. Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India and suspended trade relations days after India’s moves in the region in August. “We urge India and Pakistan to exercise restraint – including in speech – and to refrain from fanning the flames,” the minister added. “Irrespective of that, however, it is obvious that cross-border terrorism must be stamped out permanently. Naturally, that goes for any type of terrorism and extremism. And this is not least in Pakistan’s own fundamental interests.”

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has also reiterated his appeal to India and Pakistan to deal with the Kashmir dispute through dialogue and respect human rights in the region, PTI reported on Friday.

“Well, just to reiterate our basic concerns that the secretary general has previously expressed his concerns about the situation in Kashmir,” said Guterres’ Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq. “As you know, he has met with representatives of India and Pakistan at their request to discuss the situation.”

Haq said the UN chief had urged the two countries “to deal with the issue through dialogue, and, as we’ve made clear and, particularly, as the High Commissioner for Human Rights has made clear, the situation in Kashmir can only be solved with full respect for human rights”.

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