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ISLAMABAD: President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan on Wednesday urged United Nations Secretary General António Guterres to stop “artificially balancing” between Pakistan and India and act on Kashmir issue.

“We need to talk to the UN Secretary General and ask him not to artificially balance his statements between Pakistan and India and let him categorically offer his good offices for resolution of Kashmir dispute,” President Khan said at a seminar titled, ‘Kashmir Day: Solidarity with the People of Jammu & Kashmir’, organised by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), a local think-tank.

Mr Khan said that the secretary general should invoke mediation or arbitration under Chapter VI of the UN Charter that pertained to peaceful settlement of disputes that could lead to war.

“He (secretary general) could put together a group of eminent persons or leading nations so that there could be some sort of engagement,” he maintained.

Mr Khan said he, in a way, saw “UN complicity in human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir”. The president said it was wrong to characterise Indian atrocities in Occupied Kashmir as just ‘human rights violations’ and insisted that Indian forces were committing ‘crimes against humanity’ in the valley.

The AJK president appeared dissatisfied with the dialogue between Pakistan and India, which has been suspended since 2013, and described the talks’ process as a “hoax”.

“Bilateral talks with India have been a hoax because this was a charade devised to reduce the importance of Jammu and Kashmir dispute in the overall bilateral agenda,” Mr Khan said, adding that India had been successful in diminishing the importance of Kashmir dispute in the bilateral agenda.

He recalled that Kashmir was once the core issue in Pak-India talks, but its importance was reduced to one-eighth or one-tenth of the agenda and on a par with routine subjects like religious tourism.

“Therefore, we have to go back to the international fora UN, Human Rights Council with more vigour and conviction, with more consistency. We have to go to powerful parliaments, the US Congress, European Parliament, UK House of Commons… by leveraging the strengths of our diaspora,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2018