India’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that Azad Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India and that he expected New Delhi to gain physical control over it one day, raising the rhetoric over the territorial dispute.
In response, Pakistan strongly condemned and rejected “the inflammatory and irresponsible remarks made by the Indian External Affairs Minister regarding Pakistan and AJK”, according to a statement by the Foreign Office.
The statement also called upon the international community to take note of the “aggressive posturing”.
India claims the heavily populated Kashmir Valley while Pakistan has a wedge of territory in the west of the disputed region — Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
“Our position on [Azad Kashmir] is, has always been and will always be very clear. [Azad Kashmir] is part of India and we expect one day that we will have the jurisdiction, physical jurisdiction over it,” Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told a news conference.
Last month, New Delhi abrogated the special status of India-occupied Kashmir in a bid to integrate the territory fully into India, a move that has prompted protests and anger in Kashmir and Pakistan.
Asked about the Indian foreign minister’s comments, Dr Mohammad Faisal, spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry, said his government’s position on Kashmir had not changed.
Pakistan maintains that Kashmir is a disputed territory that should be resolved by the United Nations.
Pakistan has condemned India’s decision to change Kashmir’s status and said India’s crackdown on protests and dissent there would drive more of the world’s Muslims into extremism.
But Jaishankar said revoking Kashmir’s special rights was an internal Indian matter.
Remarks reflective of India’s ‘utter frustration’
The Foreign Office while rejecting “the inflammatory and irresponsible remarks” said that they point towards India’s “utter frustration” over the worldwide condemnation it has received over its actions in occupied Kashmir.
“These remarks are an obvious manifestation of India’s utter frustration over the continued international censure of its egregious human rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” said the Foreign Office.
It called attention the fact that with the presence of close to a million military personnel “incarcerating more than 8 million Kashmiris in one of the world’s largest prison, India is obdurately committing state terrorism” in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
“India cannot divert international attention from its crimes against the innocent people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir by blaming Pakistan,” read the statement.
It cast aspersions over the way the Indian government “continues to unashamedly justify the violation of Kashmiris’ human rights” and of citizens within India subjected to similar violations.
“India today is also a unique and deplorable case of a state which promotes hate crimes against minorities and consistently fails to bring to account those who indulge in cow vigilantism, mob lynchings and forced conversions and are guilty of violating India’s own laws,” said the FO statement.
The Foreign Office said that the crimes committed by India are enough evidence to “debunk pretentious claims” it flouts of being a “normal state and the so called largest democracy”.
“Pakistan calls on the international community to take serious cognizance of India’s aggressive posturing about taking ‘physical jurisdiction’ of AJK,” said the statement.
“Coming from an occupying state, such irresponsible and belligerent statements have the potential to further escalate tensions and seriously jeopardise peace and security in the region,” it added.
The Foreign Office reiterated Pakistan’s peaceful stance but said that the country “would be ready to respond effectively to any act of aggression”.
“Instead of resorting to jingoistic rhetoric, India must rescind its illegal actions, stop forthwith grave human rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, refrain from violating international law, and fully comply with UN Security Council resolutions for a final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” concluded the FO statement.