American diplomat denies India shared Kashmir plans

Updated August 08, 2019

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The statement issued by the US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs was attributed to Assistant Secretary for South Asia Alice Wells who is currently visiting Pakistan. — AFP/File
The statement issued by the US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs was attributed to Assistant Secretary for South Asia Alice Wells who is currently visiting Pakistan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD / WASHINGTON: A senior American diplomat on Wednesday denied that India had shared with the United States its plan about scrapping the autonomous status of India occupied Kashmir (IOK).

“Contrary to press reporting, the Indian government did not consult or inform the US government before moving to revoke IOK’s special constitutional status,” said a statement issued by the US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. The statement was attributed to Assistant Secretary for South Asia Alice Wells who is currently visiting Pakistan.

Indian media citing sources had earlier claimed that External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had on Aug 1 apprised his American counterpart Mike Pompeo about the plan. The report suggested that both sides had communicated on the issue multiple times. It was claimed that earlier in February, two days after the Pulwama attack, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had phoned his US counterpart John Bolton and talked about the plans to end Kashmir’s special status.

Pakistan’s ambassador briefs UN Security Council president on consequences of annulment of autonomous status of held Kashmir

Similarly, it was said that the Indian external affairs ministry had briefed the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members and foreign media on the annulment of Article 370 of the constitution and bifurcation of occupied Kashmir.

The US statement implies that Washington has distanced itself from the controversial Indian action after Pakistan’s intense reaction.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had, in his speech at the joint session of parliament, claimed that Pakistan government was not caught unawares. He said that a letter written to the UN secretary general on Aug 1 had mentioned Pakistan’s concerns about the possible Indian action of ending occupied Kashmir’s autonomy, while European Union countries were briefed about it on Aug 3.

UNSC president, others briefed

At the United Nations, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi briefed the Security Council president, diplomats and the world body’s officials on the consequences of India’s illegal annexation of a disputed territory.

The Pakistani envoy also has reached out to her counterparts at the United Nations, explaining to them how the Indian move breached UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir.

During her meeting with Joanna Wronecka of Poland, the president of the 15-member council for August, Ambassador Lodhi termed the Indian action “an egregious assault on the dignity of the Kashmiris,” according to informed sources.

She called upon the Security Council to demand that India halt and reverse its unlawful and destabilising actions, ensure compliance with UN Security Council resolutions and refrain from any steps that interfere with the settlement of the decades-old Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

“The tragedy of Kashmir has thus, come full circle,” the Pakistani envoy told UNSC president, the sources said. In 1947, she pointed out, India occupied Jammu and Kashmir on equally fallacious grounds.

“The real Indian intention to institute these changes is to alter the demographic structure of occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” Ambassador Lodhi told UNSC President Wronecka.

Since these actions could materially breach the plebiscite arrangements under the UN auspices, she said, they constituted a flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions, which guaranteed the right to self-determination to the Kashmiris.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2019