Former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik has stressed the need of highlighting the Kashmir issue among international community. Talking to media, he said sufferings of the Kashmiri people should be emphasized at the international level in order to achieve a peaceful solution of the dispute. Terming the situation of occupied Kashmir as serious, he said people have lost their lives in their struggle. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi on Friday said that the human rights violations in held Kashmir had intensified over the past months. In a meeting with former prime minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik here, Fatemi highlighted the excesses by the Indian occupant forces. Bondevik along with a two-member delegation visited Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir from March 29-31 to gain firsthand understanding of the ongoing Indian atrocities and gross human rights violations perpetrated by Indian occupation forces against defenceless Kashmiris. Earlier, he travelled to the AJK where he called on the president and the prime minister of the AJK, and also visited refugee camps who had fled from the Indian occupied territory. This week, Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC ) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation also urged India to provide access to the IPHRC fact-finding mission for independent investigation into the allegations of human rights abuses in occupied Kashmir. During the three-day visit from March 27-29th, the OIC-IPHRC visited the AJK but was not allowed a trip to held Kashmir by India. Speaking to the former Norwegian premier, Fatemi strongly condemned continued Indian use of pellet guns and live ammunition on peaceful protestors, which had already resulted in approximately 200 civilian deaths, 20,000 injured and hundreds, including girls and children, being blinded. “Despite strong international condemnation, India had recently imported 4,000 more pellet guns,” he said.
Fatemi said that the Hurriyat leadership was imprisoned or placed under house arrest. “Indian paramilitary forces were burning and shutting down schools resulting in children being denied their basic right to education,” he added. The imposition of almost constant curfew in held Kashmir, Fatemi said, had made the lives of innocent people miserable. “Their situation was further aggravated by the Indian government deliberately creating a shortage of basic amenities, including food for children, and medicines,” he said. Fatemi expressed the hope that, Bondevik’s visit to the AJK had provided an opportunity to him to witness firsthand, the agony of divided families and the plight of the Kashmiri refugees who had migrated to the AJK to escape Indian atrocities. He appreciated the strong support of Bondevik for protection of human rights and urged him to sensitise the international community about the gross Indian atrocities in Kashmir and the need for expedited resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in line with the relevant UNSC resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. Bondevik underscored that the Kashmir issue was a longstanding conflict and needed a political solution, taking into account the UN Security Council resolutions and the will of the Kashmiri people, along both sides of the Line of Control (LoC). The former Norwegian PM is the founder and president of the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights. He was prime minister of Norway from 1997 to 2000, and again from 2001 to 2005. Bondevik is a strong advocate of human rights and inter-faith harmony.