India

India Forbids Journalists to Visit Pakistan-Governed Kashmir, Meet PM Imran Khan, Islamabad Claims

The Kashmir region is controlled in parts by India and elsewhere by Pakistan but claimed in its entirety by both South Asian neighbours. Although India has regularly called on Pakistan to vacate the “illegally occupied” territory, Islamabad rejects Delhi’s August 2019 decision to split what was formerly Jammu and Kashmir state.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday accused India of preventing five Indian journalists from travelling to Pakistan-governed Kashmir to witness the proceedings of the parliament of the state of ‘Azad Kashmir’ (Free Kashmir), which went to polls last month. 

​Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won 32 of the 53 seats in the state legislative assembly polls held on 25 July. The first sitting of the new state parliament is scheduled to take place on 5 August.

Qureshi has been joined by Moeed Yusuf – the National Security Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan – and federal information and broadcasting minister, Fawad Hussain Chaudhry, in censuring the Indian government for its decision.

​The Indian journalists were also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Khan in Islamabad, according to the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi.

​India’s foreign ministry didn’t comment on the development.

Islamabad’s accusations against Delhi come hot on the heels of a diplomatic row which blew up between the two neighbours. India’s charge d’affaires at the High Commission in Islamabad, Dr M. Suresh Kumar, was summoned by the Pakistani foreign ministry last week after Delhi rejected the voting exercise in the Kashmir region.

​“India has lodged a strong protest with the Pakistani authorities on this cosmetic exercise, which the local people have protested against and rejected,” India’s foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said at the weekly press briefing as he answered questions about the recently concluded elections.

“Such an exercise can neither hide the illegal occupation by Pakistan nor the grave human rights violations, exploitation, and denial of freedom to people in these occupied territories. Pakistan has no locus standi on these Indian territories,” the Indian official added.

“We call upon Pakistan to vacate all Indian areas under its illegal occupation,” Bagchi concluded.

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