India And Pakistan Cross Swords Over Kashmir Again
India and Pakistan once again cross swords
NEW DELHI: India has taken strong exception to Pakistan Foreign Ministry’s statement criticising the proposed resettlement colonies for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, refuting the claim that these would change the demography in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan has claimed that the townships for Kashmiri pandits, as proposed by the central government here, were also in violation of UN resolutions.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while rejecting Pakistan’s statement, asserted that Kashmiri Pandits along with Muslims and Sikhs are an integral part of Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is natural that while we imagine their resettlement, every political party would want to see that whosoever was uprooted and went out, should be brought back," Jaitley told reporters outside Parliament House. He added, "This will include people of all religions, but it is also natural that Kashmiri Pandits will be in greater numbers”.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam created a storm in India by her statement which slammed resettlement townships for Kashmiri Pandits as has been decided by India.
“Any effort to create special and dedicated townships, zones or any other step to alter the demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” she said, adding “We have already seen how the people of Jammu and Kashmir are resisting it”.
Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory, Aslam said that UN Security Council resolutions clearly pronounce how there cannot be any demographic change in the state.
“Pending the final settlement through plebiscite, the two countries have administrative responsibilities in the disputed territory. But there is a very clear direction that there cannot be any demographic change and there cannot be any step which would alter the makeup of the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.
Earlier this week, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in Lok Sabha had asserted its government’s commitment on the rehabilitation of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley while reiterating its plan of separate townships for them.
Singh had announced Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s promise to earmark 50 acres of land as a first installment for the rehabilitation of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits.
This move was strongly criticized by the separatists in the Valley who claimed that “creating ghettos” would complicate the situation. The proposal has been condemned by most Kashmiris as well.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokeswoman also accused India of discriminatory treatment to the Pakistani seamen who were rescued by Indian authorities after an Omani ship sank off the coast of Gujarat on April 4 while on its way to Alang ship-breaking yard in Amreli district.
Aslam raised serious concerns over reports that the Pakistani seamen were denied proper lodging. The Indian Coast Guard and state marine police had rescued the 17 crew members, 15 of them Pakistanis, of the ship which sank about 10 nautical miles from Pipavav port.
“Those belonging to Yemen were lodged in a hotel while the Pakistanis reportedly were kept in a police station,” she said.
Stating that it was breach of international laws and norms, she said that the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has approached the Indian authorities to ensure the security, well-being and early repatriation of Pakistani seamen.
Aslam was also perturbed about the Indian government’s lack of response on Islamabad’s queries about the so-called “drug boat”, referring to the incident on April 20 when a Pakistani boat carrying 232 kgs of narcotics with street value of Rs 600 crore was seized and eight Pakistanis on board were arrested by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard in international waters off the Gujarat coast.