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South Asia

Pakistan PM Condemns Yasin Malik’s Sentencing, Summons Indian Diplomat in Protest Against Verdict

Pakistan also wrote to the UN Human Rights Commissioner to take cognisance of the “trumped-up charges” against the Kashmiri separatist leader.

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New Delhi: Even as Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other leaders condemned the life imprisonment of Yasin Malik, the country also summoned Indian High Commission’s Charge d’Affaires to lodge a protest against the verdict.

Pakistan also wrote to the UN Human Rights Commissioner to take cognisance of the “trumped-up charges” against the Kashmiri separatist leader.

A Delhi court on Wednesday, May 25 sentenced convicted Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik to life in a terror funding case. The court had, on May 19, convicted Malik and had directed the National Investigation Authority to assess his financial situation to determine the amount of fine likely to be imposed.

The NIA had sought the death penalty for Malik, who had earlier told the court that he was not contesting the charges, including those under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Immediately after the verdict, Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif wrote on Twitter that it was a “black day” for Indian democracy and described Malik as a “valiant freedom fighter”. “Life imprisonment for valiant freedom fighter will provide fresh impetus to Kashmiris’ right to self-determination,” he said.

Pakistan’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is currently in Davos, also criticised the process as a “sham trial”. Stating that India cannot “silence” Kashmir’s voice “for freedom and self-determination”, he added that Pakistan will “continue to provide all possible support in their just struggle”.

Pakistan’s minister for climate change and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Sherry Rehman denounced Malik’s sentencing as “a travesty of justice on multiple levels”.

Separately, the Indian High Commission’s senior most diplomat was summoned to the Pakistan foreign ministry, where he was issued a demarche.

Also read: J&K: Clashes Erupt in Srinagar After NIA Court Sentences Yasin Malik to Life in Terror Funding Case

“The Indian Charge d’Affaires was conveyed Government of Pakistan’s strong indignation over the highly reprehensible sentencing of Mr. Yasin Malik after his conviction on fabricated charges, denial of fair trial and inhuman incarceration despite his deteriorating health, in complete defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” said the foreign ministry’s readout.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s foreign office issued a statement that the foreign minister had sent the letter to UN human rights chief Michele Bachelet on May 24 “as part of Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to draw the attention of the international community to the alarming situation” in Kashmir.

“The foreign minister urged the High Commissioner and the Human Rights Council to take immediate cognisance of India’s targeting of indigenous Kashmiri leadership through motivated cases, particularly the treatment meted out by Malik,” said the statement.

Zardari also urged Bachelet to pressurise India to release Malik “from all baseless charges and ensure his immediate release from prison so that he can be reunited with his family, recuperate his health and return to normal life”.

Earlier in the week, Pakistan’s National Assembly and Senate had passed a resolution expressing solidarity with Malik after his conviction. In the national assembly, the resolution was presented by defence minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif, while former Pakistan Prime Minister and PPP leader Yusuf Raza Gilani moved the motion in the senate.

Both the parliamentary resolutions called on the international community to force India to drop charges against all Kashmiri leaders, including Malik. The senate resolution also called on the Indian government to arrange a meeting of the Hurriyat leader with his wife, Mushaal Malik, and daughter.

Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif had on May 23 tweeted against the conviction, saying that the world should take note and hold the Indian government accountable.

Kashmir is at the heart of the long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan, with relations between the two South Asian neighbours continuing to be in deep freeze for several years. India has repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting cross-border terrorist acts, which Islamabad has denied.

After Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif was sworn into office last month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sent a congratulatory letter, asserting that India desired peace and stability in a region free of terrorism. Sharif had replied that Pakistan also wanted peace and resolution of all disputes, including Kashmir.