Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi on Friday said that the people of Jammu and Kashmir may be locked up and their voices not heard in their own homes and their own land, but their voices were heard today at the meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
The UNSC held a consultative meeting on Friday to discuss the Kashmir issue as Pakistan urged the world body to implement its own resolutions on this 70-year-old dispute.
The meeting had been called by China on Pakistan’s request to discuss the prevailing situation in occupied Kashmir. In the closed door meeting, briefings were given on the situation in the region.
In a media briefing following the conclusion of the meeting, Ambassador Lodhi said that the meeting had been called within 72 hours after Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had written a letter requesting the same.
"We are grateful to China in also joining us in calling this meeting," she added.
"The voice of the Kashmiri people, the voice of the people of occupied Kashmir has been heard today in the highest diplomatic forum of the world.
"They are not alone, their voices have been heard, their plight, their hardship, their pain, their suffering, their occupation and the consequences of that occupation have been heard in the UNSC," she said.
Lodhi said that the very fact this meeting had taken place is "testimony to the fact that this is an internationally recognised dispute".
The UN Ambassador said that there was "an effort to stop this meeting from convening" but thanked all 15 members for agreeing to hold it.
"This meeting has reaffirmed the validity of the UNSC resolutions on the occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir," she said.
Lodhi underscored the fact that Pakistan "stands ready for a peaceful settlement of the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir".
She further emphasised that India's claim that the issue was an "internal matter" stood nullified following today's meeting.
"Today the whole world is discussing the occupied state and the situation there," she said, also referring to the Chinese ambassador's remarks on the human rights situation in Kashmir.
"It is an abysmal situation, with violence carried out with impunity by India. That, too, has been discussed by the Security Council today," she disclosed.
She said she had contacted FM Qureshi who had conveyed that this is the first step that Pakistan has taken on behalf of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
"This is the first and not the last step. It will not end here. It will only end when justice is done to the people of Jammu and Kashmir," she stressed.
She went on to reiterate that the voices of the people of Kashmir will always be heard. "Pakistan will always stand by them, extending full diplomatic and political support."
The UN ambassador concluded by thanking the Security Council for taking up the issue for the first time in 50 years.
Prior to Lodhi's briefing, Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun held a conference to discuss with the media China's stance on the issue.
He said that the Security Council members "have expressed their serious concern" regarding the current situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
"They are also concerned about the human rights situation there and also, it is the general view of the members that parties concerned should refrain from taking any unilateral action which might further aggravate the tension there," he said.
Presenting China's standpoint, the ambassador said, "China holds the view that the issue of Kashmir is an issue that is left from history between India and Pakistan. According to the relevant Security Council resolutions, the status of Kashmir is undecided and it is an internationally recognised dispute."
"The Kashmir issue should be resolved properly through peaceful means in accordance with the UN charter, the relevant Security Council resolutions, and bilateral agreements. This represents the international community's consensus," he emphasised.
"It's obvious that the constitutional amendment by India has changed the status quo in Kashmir causing tensions in the region.
"China is deeply concerned about the current situation and opposes any unilateral action that complicates the situation and we call upon the relevant parties to exercise restraint and act prudently and in particular, [we oppose] actions that will aggravate the tensions," said the Chinese ambassador.
The foreign minister, in a parallel briefing in Islamabad, underscored the big diplomatic victory for Pakistan as for the first time after 1965, the issue of Kashmir had been brought to the Security Council. He congratulated the nation as new life had been breathed into an issue which was "thought of as dead".
FM Qureshi said that the participants of the meeting discussed the human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir and expressed serious concern over the situation of human rights in the region.
The foreign minister said that the meeting itself was an achievement for Pakistan as it negated the Indian claim that Kashmir was its internal matter. He said that once again the global community had recognised Kashmir as a disputed region.
He invited international human rights bodies to visit the portion of Kashmir within Pakistan. "We will not stand as an obstacle in the path of such organisations. We will give them full access," he said.
He questioned whether India has enough confidence to allow such bodies to enter occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
"Pakistan will remain standing with Kashmiris and extend its political, moral and diplomatic support until they receive their right of self-determination," he vowed.
He further questioned as to how long the curfew imposed by India will last in occupied Kashmir.
Qureshi said that whether his voice reaches the Kashmiris today or later, it is the voice of Pakistan and the voice must have reached loud and clear to them on August 14 when every city of Pakistan united to show their Kashmiri brethren sympathy and unity.
"And they must have seen and will see (ultimately) the resolve and respect with which Black Day was observed throughout the world."
The minister said that the Foreign Office would further assess today's achievement in a meeting tomorrow and deliberate the next steps to take.
He vowed that Pakistan will continue to stand by the Kashmiri people "to every extent".
The foreign minister also thanked various human rights organisations for continuing to highlight the issue as well as the UNSC.
PM Imran takes Trump into confidence
Ahead of the meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephonic conversation with US President Donald Trump to brief him about Pakistan's stance on the issue.
"The prime minister conveyed Pakistan's position to him [President Trump] and took him into confidence," Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said in a video statement broadcast on television moments before the meeting started.
"Pakistan, like always, is committed to the peace process. The role we have played is for the betterment of the region and the steps we have taken are for the mutual benefit of Pakistan and Afghanistan and for peace and stability. We will continue to take such steps," he had said.
He had also said that direct contact had been established with four out of five permanent members of the Security Council and they were "aware of Pakistan's viewpoint".