New Delhi: On a day when news broke that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government is preparing a proposal to resolve the Kashmir conflict, a statement issued by Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs (MoFA) tried to blame India for the killing of Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari in June this year while raising the issue of “Indian atrocities” in J&K.

The statement, issued after a meeting between the so-called “Prime Minister” of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)’s and Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, mischievously linked Bukhari’s murder to the controversial report of the UN-OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) on the human rights situation in J&K that was released just before the incident.

“The assassination of veteran Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari just hours after his tweet in favor of the OHCHR report is yet another proof of Indian atrocities...,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in the statement.

Worse, Pakistan foreign minister Qureshi also lashed out at India, accusing it of “gross and systematic human rights violations” in J&K, disregarding Pakistan-sponsored terror in the Kashmir Valley.

Earlier in the day, another minister from Imran Khan’s Cabinet had said on a TV show that a draft proposal on resolving the Kashmir conflict is “almost ready”.

The proposal, a “model for conflict resolution”, would be presented before the Cabinet and also Prime Minister Khan, Shireen Mazari, minister for human rights, had said, adding, “If the draft is approved, we will move forward on it.” She is considered to be close to the powerful Army.

In his victory speech last month, Mr Khan had said that his government would like the leaders of the two sides to resolve all disputes, including the “core issue” of Kashmir, through talks. That had led to hope in New Delhi that the new civilian government in Pakistan would adopt a more reasonable approach. But it seems overtures of talks and blame-game, piggy-riding on PoK, may continue to be the norm.

It is widely believed that three Pakistan-backed terrorists on a bike were behind the killing of Bukhari who was shot dead in Kashmir after a controversy over a seminar reportedly held earlier in West Asia that was apparently objected to by pro-Pakistan elements.

In the statement from Islamabad, MoFA said, “...The Prime Minister (of PoK) regretted that instead of addressing the concerns raised in the report on human rights violations...(in J&K) India has exacerbated its repression... with the imposition of Governor Rule and condemned to brutal use of force. The assassination of veteran Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari just hours after his tweet in favour of the OHCHR report is yet another proof of Indian atrocities...” 

The MoFA statement also said, “Foreign minister (Qureshi) said that the OHCHR report with its categoric focus on human rights abuses... caught India completely off-guard. He welcomed the recommendation of the OHCHR report to constitute a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate gross and systematic human rights violations... (in J&K).”

In June this year, India had swiftly rejected the findings of the UN-OHCHR report on the situation in J&K and had lodged a protest, saying it was “fallacious, tendentious and motivated” while “questioning the intent” behind it. A furious New Delhi had said the report was a “selective compilation of largely unverified information”, that it was “overtly prejudiced and seeks to build a false narrative” and that it “violates India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.