Pakistani Imam Claims He Played Role In Recently Released UNHCR Report on Kashmir
Zafar Bangash speaks at an event in Toronto, Canada. (Photo: Youtube grab)

A Pakistani Islamist, based in Canada has revealed that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, was in touch with him while preparing the recently released Human Rights report on Kashmir.

Based in Toronto, Zafar Bangash is an Islamic movement journalist and an Imam at the Islamic Society of York Region's Mosque. He is also the Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought.

The UNHCR report on Kashmir which looked at human rights Jammu and Kashmir as well as Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir has been rejected by India.

While speaking at a conference on Kashmir in Mississauga, Bangesh revealed, “I can say it to you, and I say it with all humility, but with great pride that we `The Friends of Kashmir' also have a role in the production of this report. In fact, I had personal correspondence with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, e-mail correspondence in which he responded to my personal letter and e-mail saying that he would like to have access to both sides of Line of Control, that means in Azad Kashmir and Indian occupied Kashmir.”

Bangesh added, "I responded to him (Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein) after speaking to the Foreign Office spokesperson in Pakistan, Mr. Nafees Zakaria, who used to be the Consul General in Toronto and he assured that Pakistan would welcome the UN High Commissioner and their representatives to Pakistan and they will facilitate their visit to Azad Kashmir."

The UNHCR report on Kashmir had criticised India and Pakistan over the alleged human rights violations in both parts of Kashmir governed by them.

Reacting angrily to Pakistan's reference to a UN report on Kashmir at the Security Council, India again on Tuesday said the "so called" report reflects "clear bias" and was not even found fit to be considered by the members of the human rights body where it was submitted.

Pakistan raked up the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at a UN session on Monday, the third time it did so in as many weeks.

However, despite India’s rejection UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres today hinted his support for the UN human rights chief's call for an independent international investigation into the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), saying the Human Rights High Commissioner's action "represents the voice of the UN" on the issue.

"As you can imagine, all the action of the Human Rights High Commissioner is an action that represents the voice of the UN in relation to that issue," Guterres told reporters at a press conference when asked whether he supports an independent international probe into the rights situation in Kashmir and PoK as recommended by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in his report last month.

On the situation in Kashmir and whether he has made any attempt to bring about dialogue between India and Pakistan, Guterres said "it is clear to me that only political solutions can address political problems."