UNITED NATIONS: For the first time since 1965, the UN Security Council (UNSC) held a meeting exclusively on occupied Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, nullifying India’s claim that this was an internal matter.
Although the council did not agree on a statement, China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun summed up the discussions, expressing serious concern over the situation.
“The UNSC members are concerned about the human rights situation there and they (want) the parties concerned to refrain from taking any unilateral action that might further aggravate the tension there since the situation is already very tense and very dangerous,” he said.
Pakistan’s Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said the meeting brought the Kashmir dispute back to the world’s most influential panel and also highlighted the atrocities Indian troops were committing in the occupied territory.
“The voice of the Kashmiri people resonated in the chambers of the world’s highest diplomatic forum today,” she said. “The whole world is discussing the occupied state. This is an international dispute.”
Members call both countries to resolve issue through talks in accordance with UN charter amid New Delhi’s resistance
The factor that motivated the world body to re-focus on Kashmir after more than 50 years was highlighted by Russian envoy to UN Dmitry Polyanskiy. “Very much concerned. We hope to avoid it,” said the Russian diplomat when asked by a journalist outside the meeting room if Russia was concerned the dispute could escalate into a larger conflict between India and Pakistan.
Ambassador Zhang also underlined this factor in his remarks to the media, warning that India’s move to amend Kashmir’s constitutional status was “causing tensions in the region, China is deeply concerned and opposes any unilateral decisions”.
The Chinese envoy pointed out that “India’s action has also challenged China’s sovereign interests and violated bilateral agreement”.
He added that China believes “the status of Kashmir is still undecided” and “calls upon the relevant parties to exercise restraint.”
Ambassador Lodhi, speaking after the meeting, said that Pakistan’s efforts to seek justice for the people of held Kashmir will continue and “will only end when justice is done to the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.
“The people may be locked up, their voices may not be heard in their own land, but their voices were heard today at the UN and will always be heard because Pakistan will stand by them and extend full support,” she declared. “This is the first, not the last step.”
As the closed-door meeting began, two UN officials — Assistant Secretary General Oscar Taranco and Lt Gen Carlos Loitey — briefed the members of the Security Council on the situation in Kashmir and on activities of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan.
Various diplomats briefing journalists on the proceedings of the closed-door meeting said that UNSC members urged India and Pakistan to refrain from actions that would exacerbate tensions in the region.
The members reaffirmed relevant Council resolutions on the issue, vindicating Pakistan’s position that the UNSC resolutions that call for a plebiscite in the disputed territory should be implemented.
The members called on India and Pakistan to avoid actions that would escalate the situation along the Line of Control.
The members urged India and Pakistan to settle the dispute through peaceful manner, including through direct dialogue, based on related bilateral agreements in accordance with the UN Charter.
The reference to the UN Charter endorses the demand of the Kashmiri people that India should be held responsible for continuously violating their basic human rights.
The members agreed to follow the situation closely.
“We stand ready for a peaceful settlement of the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir,” said the Pakistani envoy while appreciating UNSC’s interest in the dispute.
China too expressed concern on the Indian clampdown in Kashmir, telling the UNSC members that situation in the disputed region was “serious and dangerous” and India’s “invalid, unilateral practices” had created this situation.
“The situation is already very tense and dangerous right now there [in India-held Kashmir],” Mr Zhang said. “India has violated bilateral agreement to keep peace in the border areas. It is obvious the constitutional amendment by India has changed the status quo in Kashmir.”
He reminded India that the UN secretary general had also urged New Delhi to “refrain from any unilateral step which is dangerous” and to follow the UN Charter.
“We are grateful for the 15 members of UNSC. We are ready for a peaceful settlement of J&K. It nullifies the Indian claim that J&K is an internal matter of India,” said Ambassador Lodhi.
After India revoked J&K’s special status on Aug 5 and announced the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, Pakistan approached the UN Security Council against New Delhi’s “illegal” action that also violated relevant UN resolutions.
Pakistan requested a closed-door meeting. The consultative meeting, however, did not call for another meeting to review the situation in Kashmir. The meeting also did not issue a joint statement, as expected.
India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin presented the UNSC proceedings as the vindication of New Delhi’s position that Kashmir and other issues with Pakistan could only be discussed in a bilateral setup.
“We are consistent in all our positions that all issues will be resolved bilaterally and peacefully,” he said. “We stand ready to continue our efforts towards peaceful resolution of all issues in an atmosphere free of violence.”
Despite India’s unilateral action on Kashmir, Mr Akbaruddin said: “We are committed to the Simla agreement. It is now for Pakistan to stop terrorism and start talks,” he added.
Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2019