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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari Friday once again criticised Foreign Office for not being proactively translating Prime Minister Imran Khan's vision at international level on various issues including Jammu and Kashmir. The minister was briefing Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on human rights diplomacy, challenges and opportunities for Pakistan. Meeting was chaired by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed. Mazari said the notion of diplomacy had been changed and war had been replaced by 'hybrid warfare'.

"No State is sovereign, as they have voluntarily chipped away their sovereignty by agreeing to international agreements to govern their interstate relations in a growing number of fields," she said.

Shireen said the 'human rights diplomacy' stressed the need to identify four main actors including states, inter-governmental organizations, such as UN, NATO, NGOs, and the European Union etc.

She said Pakistan should utilise this evolving concept of human rights diplomacy for highlighting the human rights violations in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

"The interventions can include, lobbying with the EU and its member states for revocation of the India's Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Standard Status, imposition of sanctions on India in line with EU's Directorate General for External Policies' guidelines, 2015," she said.

The minister said efforts should be made to convince the European Union that it should also adopt a similar criterion, in the case of India as it had been pursuing for Pakistan with regard to the human rights.

She added that Pakistan had to move proactively on multiple international forums in a coordinated manner, adding that advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the matter would be a viable way forward.

"I've have also not been included in the 'advisory council' formed by Shah Mahmood Qureshi [Foreign Minister]", she said, adding that the Foreign Office should come up with a proactive strategy to highlight the human rights abuses in the occupied valley, instead of pursuing a "traditional Kashmir policy".

The minister said that we need to use international forums other than the United Nations after the UN General Assembly speech once a year.

"It's the organization which has to take it up after the UN speech...we cannot sit idly by twiddling our thumbs for the reason that India is a big economy and nothing will happen," she added.

On Islamophobia, Dr Mazari said that we have always been on the defensive and instead, "we need to be on the offensive, on issues like Islamophobia and expose the 'hypocrisy' of the West".

Mazari also strongly contradicted her party's Senator Shehzad Wasim who is also leader of the house in the Senate, for calling her briefing to the committee as an academic presentation.

"Please don't call it an academic presentation...it is a policy statement," she asserted.

Responding to the observations by Dr Mazari, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood said that the Foreign Office takes her critique "very positively".

Omar Warraich, Head of Amnesty International for South Asia, briefed the Committee on the role of Amnesty International in highlighting the human rights violations in Kashmir. He informed the committee that Amnesty International works in the IOJ&K and in reviewing the human rights violations with grave concern.

He said that several reports had been issued highlighting the atrocities and human rights violations.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said Pakistan had become the center point of strategic issues which was an important window of opportunity given the fact that our strategic move had compelled India to take defense position at various international fronts.

He acknowledged that support to the Kashmir cause by the UN Secretary General and United General Assembly president during their to visit to Pakistan, and letter from 14 US senators demanding sanctions on India were successful interventions steered by Pakistan.

Abdul Hameed Loan from All Parties Hurriyat Conference was also present during the briefing.

The Committee also examined the matter of amount contributed by Pakistan so far towards financing of South Asian University (SAU) established by the SAARC countries, which was raised by Senator Nuzhat Sadiq, life threats and extortion demands received by Senator Hilalur Rehman from banned terror outfit Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), operating from Afghanistan, and issuance of a notice by the FBR to the ambassador of Palestine.

About observance of quota in posting of non-career diplomats aboard, the committee asked Senator Shahzad Waseem, Leader of the House, to take up the matter with the prime minister to consider giving adequate representation to people from Balochistan in said postings especially in Europe.

The meeting was attended by senators, Rehman Malik, Anwaarul Haq Kakar, Attaur Rehman, Dr Asif Kirmani, Dr Shahzad Waseem, Javed Abbasi, Nuzhat Sadiq, Seemee Ezdi, Sherry Rehman, Sitara Ayaz, Hilalur Rehman, and senior officials from the Foreign Office.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020