Pakistan again urges India to end Kashmir blockade
Call comes as first case of coronavirus reported in occupied valley
Pakistan on Thursday once again urged India to lift curfew in occupied Kashmir as Indian media reported first confirmed case of coronavirus in the Vally.
In the weekly press briefing, held behind closed doors due to the virus outbreak, Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that lifting of restrictions was important to obtain full information of the infected people and to ensure the provision of essential items and medical supplies to them.
Representing Pakistan at a video conference of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) over coronavirus on Sunday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza had called on India to end the lockdown given the threats posed by the pandemic.
"It is a matter of concern that COVID-19 has been reported from Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and in view of the health emergency, it is imperative that all lockdown in the disputed territory must be lifted immediately," Dr Mirza said.
New instrument of repression
Using the reported infection in Kashmir as an excuse, India had in fact started making things even worse for the people of Kashmir by imposing a stricter curfew in parts of the valley.
India Today reported that dozens of people told Reuters they had been prevented from leaving their neighbourhoods on Thursday because roads were blocked by police and paramilitary units.
Srinagar's senior superintendent of police said that road blockades across the valley had been imposed to prevent the "spread of the virus".
"I had to go to take my mother to hospital in Srinagar but the police has closed the road," said Mohammed Ayub, from the nearby town of Budgam.
"I am waiting here for the last two hours. I can't even go home now as the road is blocked due to a traffic jam."
Aisha Farooqi in her Thursday's press briefing condemned the “inhumane and brutal repression of the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian security forces”.
The spokesperson also noted that despite the Indian annexation of the mountainous valley, Jammu and Kashmir remains a disputed territory and the Indian government’s steps are in sheer violation of the UN resolutions.
About the coronavirus situation in Pakistan, the spokesperson said that the government had taken a series of measures to contain its spread.
She said the government was monitoring the situation and has employed all mechanisms to ensure the safety of the people.
Aisa said that a crisis management cell has also been established in the Foreign Office to liaise with the diplomatic corps in Pakistan as well as with foreign missions and Pakistanis living abroad.
“Our embassies and consulates abroad have also established hotlines and nominated focal persons to facilitate expatriates,” she said.
“They are advised to avoid unnecessary travel and practice social distancing in a responsible manner for their own safety and those around them,” she concluded.