The world’s largest bloc of Muslim countries expressed concern on Saturday over alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, which has seen weeks of deadly clashes between protesters and police.
Iyad Madani, secretary-general of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, said at a news conference in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad that the situation in Kashmir was deteriorating and urged the international community to act.
“The situation is getting worse rather than better and this cannot continue,” Madani said after meeting with Sartaj Aziz, the foreign affairs adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister.
“We should not be afraid of referendum,” Madani said, adding that it was up to the Kashmiri people to decide their future.
Standing next to him at the news conference, Aziz accused Indian forces of using lethal force against Kashmiris protesting peacefully over extrajudicial killings. He said a peaceful solution to the dispute over the region “is an imperative for regional peace and stability.”
Kashmir has been gripped with violence since July 9, a day after security forces killed top militant, Burhan Wani, in a gunfight. At least 67 people have been killed and over 4,000 injured in clashes with security forces since then.
The Pakistani foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry has invited his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar for talks in Islamabad later this month on the “Kashmir dispute”, but the Indian side has said the talks should focus on aspects related to cross-border terrorism and rejected Pakistan’s “self-serving allegations” on Jammu and Kashmir.
India has also said the foreign secretary-level talks would focus on the “earliest possible vacation of Pakistan’s illegal occupation of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir”.