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UN Human Rights Chief: Pakistan, India Must De-escalate Tensions

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, says that Pakistan and India must de-escalate military tensions before alleged human rights abuses in the disputed Kashmir region can be addressed. Ms. Robinson is in Pakistan on the last leg of a five-nation trip to Egypt, Bahrain, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At the Pakistani capital on Tuesday, U.N. Human Rights chief, Mary Robinson addressed the issue of human rights violations in Kashmir. "I have been asked by those who are victims of human rights violations on both sides, to assess and examine the situation and draw attention more fully to the extent of the human rights violations. I am going to seek a way, I am going to consult with some experts who have studied closely the situation on both sides and look at possible strategy to highlight the importance of addressing the human rights violations," she said.

The Indian government said that more than 33,000 people have died in the decade-old separatist Muslim insurgency in Kashmir. Pakistan puts the toll at 80,000.

Ms. Robinson has said that is not possible to ignore the pleas of human rights victims in Kashmir and that the matter must be addressed. But for any such action, she said, both India and Pakistan need to reduce their military presence along the border.

"It's very important that there should be a de-escalation, and I welcome any initiatives in that regard. And secondly there has to be a political discussion and a political way forward found. It's difficult to deal with the human rights situation in a contested political sensitive situation such as that," she said.

India and Pakistan have ignored repeated calls by international leaders to pull back their troops and open talks to settle their disputes. Tensions have been running high in the region after a terror attack on India's parliament in December. New Delhi has blamed Islamabad for sponsoring the attack. The Pakistani government has dismissed the charge as baseless.