MULTAN - Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US Senator Chris Van Hollen Saturday reiterated demand for lifting of curfew and communications blackout in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoJ&K).

US Senator Chris Van Hollen accompanying US Ambassador to Pakistan Paul W Jones paid a visit to the Shrine of Hazrat Bahauddin Zakriya on first day of 780th three-day Urs ceremonies to pay respect to the renowned saint.

Custodian of the shrine, Qureshi received the US delegation upon their arrival at historical Qasim Fort Mound.

While talking to the media persons, US Senator Chris Van Hollen said US want that Pakistan and India return to dialogue.

Hollen heaped praise on Pakistan for its commitment to sustainable peace in the region. He said President Donald Trump wants to see bilateral relations between Pakistan and India. He said before reaching Pakistan, he had visited India where he discussed various issues, however, added his request to visit IoJ&K was denied by the Indian government.

Hollen says US wants Pakistan, India to return to dialouge

He said he was scheduled to visit Azad Jammu and Kashmir and various other parts of Pakistan during coming days of his visit to Pakistan.

Qureshi said Pakistan has nothing to hide from the international community and added Hollen would be facilitated to visit any part of Pakistan including Azad Kashmir.

What is there (IoJ&K) to hide that an elected representative from US senator was denied access? Qureshi questioned.

Qureshi apprised the US senator about atrocities being committed by India in IoJ&K. He said 61-day had passed since India had imposed curfew and communication blackout in the IoJ&K and where Indian forces were using pellet-guns against the innocent Kashmiri people causing them injuries and blindness.

He said Prime Imran Khan had briefed the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).

“We feel there is nothing to hide, let the US Senate and Congress know the difference between this side and the other side (India),” he said. “What is there? what is there to hide that an elected US senator was denied permission to visit Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” Qureshi said.

He said even the Indian opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azaad was not allowed to visit the IOJ&K and he had to approach the Indian Supreme Court for the visit to his own state adding Ghulam Nabi visited the IOJ&K and prepared a report which was also published.

He said Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir issue was clear before the world adding Pakistan wanted restoration of basic human rights of Kashmiri people in the IOJ&K. The foreign minister said Pakistan wanted that world must take the IOJ&K issue seriously.

Pakistan and other countries had serious concerns on the grave human rights violations in the IOJ&K and the issue was being discussed at European Union, United Nations and other international forums, Qureshi said and added Human Rights Commission and international media had also expressed concerns on the ongoing worst condition in the IOJ&K.

Qureshi said, “We want an open discussion in the US Congress on the issue of violations in the IOJ&K.” He said international media had wrote about grave human rights violations in Kashmir.  He said US always stood for democratic values and fundamental rights and those human rights were being usurped in the IOJ&K.

Hollen said he had written a letter to US President Donald Trump on the issue of curfew and communication blackout in the IOJ&K.

He said, “There should be transparency and people should know what is happening in Kashmir (IOJ&K).”

To a question, He said, “Journalists and elected representatives should be given permission to visit the IOJ&K to observe what is happening there.”

He said, “US President offered to mediate for resolution of Kashmir issue and US government would do whatever it could to resolve it.”

He said situation was tense but “Donald Trump wants India and Pakistan to improve relations and return to dialogue.”

Hollen maintained that he had asked the US president in his letter to take strong position on the issue to protect human rights and also for the restoration of communication system in the IOJ&K.