UNHCR report – India in crosshairs

June 22, 2018 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
Former Director General of Information Systems, Indian Army


The recent report by UNHCR on Kashmir, though talking of both sides of the LoC, focuses mainly on serious violations in J&K between July 2016 and April 2018, alleging some 145 civilians killed (without mentioning terrorists including Pakistani terrorists) by security forces and up to 20 civilians killed by armed groups. UNHCR Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called for maximum restraint and denounced the lack of prosecutions of Indian forces in J&K due to a 1990 law giving them what he called "virtual immunity" (read AFSPA), calling for a commission of inquiry by the Human Rights Council, opening a three-week session in Geneva on June 18, 2018, into all violations, and investigation of mass graves Kashmir Valley and J&K. India has rejected the report terming it "fallacious, tendentious and motivated", questioning intent in bringing out selective compilation of largely unverified information to build a false narrative. India has further said the report: violates India's sovereignty and territorial integrity, entire state of J&K being integral to India, with Pakistan illegally occupying part through aggression - repeated calls upon Pakistan to vacate occupied territories; incorrect description of Indian territory is mischievous, misleading, unacceptable; Pakistan's cross-border terrorism, aimed at suppressing will of people of J&K, disrupting its political and social fabric and undermining India's integrity, conveniently ignored; disturbing to note UN-proscribed terrorist entities termed "armed groups" and terrorists as "leaders", undermining UN-led consensus on zero tolerance to terrorism;.

Fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution to every Indian citizen, including in the state of J&K (also protected by independent judiciary, HR commissions, free media and active civil society ignored. India has also informed UNHCR its deep concern over individual prejudices being allowed to undermine the credibility of a UN institution, that such malicious reports cannot undermine the will of India and that all measures necessary to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country from cross border terrorism will be taken. That the report is malicious and mischievous is without doubt because the reference to Pakistan can best be described as 'in passing', mentioning no figures, as done in case of India. There is no mention whatsoever of Balochistan where Pakistani genocide is unabated and discovery of mass graves have been reported in the past. There is no mention of Pakistani export of terrorism either. In case of Afghanistan, the UN Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has been periodically mentioning by name Pakistan-based terrorist terrorists groups undertaking terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. Stands to reason, that a UN report on Kashmir should have mentioned Pakistan's proxy war in J&K; naming the terrorist groups. But the report doesn't even mention the extra judicial killings in Gilgit-Baltistan and their military courts that are unconstitutional. The preamble to the 1949 UN Convention of Kashmir called upon Pakistan to withdraw its forces from POK, thereby acknowledging Pakistani aggression.

The extent of radicalization of Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein is difficult to establish, but he has been known for his eccentric ways, even going beyond his charter. In September 2016, he attacked Donald Trump's presidential campaign, calling him a "bigot", which led Russia to lodge formal complaint with the UN that Zeid was overstepping his limit and that he should stick to his file. In December 2016, Zeid condemned Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte for killings of the drug mafia, but Duterte responding saying he would burn down the UN. Despite UN Military Observers for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), in August 2016, Zeid demanded India and Pakistan give "independent observers" access to Kashmir. He obviously had an agenda linked with the killing of Burhan Wani – but on whose behest? That UN officials can be bribed is established, with two examples in the media – both involving Chinese buying out UN officials. China has also been interfering in the UNHCR mechanism, with UNHCR ignoring treatment and protection of human rights activists critical of China, bending to wishes of China thwarting UN scrutiny of its own human rights record. That UNHCR officials are taking bribes for this is obvious. It is, therefore, quite possible that the UNHCR report has been initiated on behest of China-Pakistan, with Pakistan mentioned superfluously to avoid suspicion. The timing has been matched with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) this month (June 2018) where there is every possibility of Pakistan being 'grey-listed', which China would have found difficult to defend. This UNHCR report is likely to be used to deflect terrorism support of Pakistan. India has already responded to the report. But we need to examine how did we get caught unaware and what will be the next move of UNHCR, since this is the first report. We need to get pro-active on the issue.