FM Qureshi boycotts Indian counterpart's speech at UN in protest against Kashmir oppression

Updated September 26, 2019

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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. — AFP/File
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. — AFP/File

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday boycotted the speech of Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers in New York.

"It is not possible for me to sit with the murderer of Kashmiris," he told reporters after boycotting the speech.

The spokesperson to the foreign minister had earlier announced that Qureshi had subjected his presence in the meeting during the speech to the lifting of curfew in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

"Pakistan will not engage with the 'Butcher of Kashmir' until and unless they (India) lift the siege and put an end to atrocities in occupied Kashmir," a statement issued by the spokesperson said.

Read more: 'The time to act is now': PM Imran urges UN to probe human rights abuses in occupied Kashmir

"They must safeguard the human rights of every Kashmiri and ensure they are protected and not violated and trampled upon."

On August 5, the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stripped Kashmiris of the constitutional rights they had for seven decades through a rushed presidential order. Since then, an indefinite curfew has been in place in occupied Kashmir while elected leaders are still under house arrest.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will take up at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday the issue of the unilateral annexation and brutalities by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir.

FM Qureshi, Saudi counterpart discuss Kashmir

Foreign Minister Qureshi earlier in the day held a meeting with Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir and discussed the situation in occupied Kashmir as well as the prevailing threats to peace and security in the region.

During the meeting on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UNGA, the foreign minister thanked his Saudi counterpart for hosting a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) Contact Group on Kashmir.

The foreign minister said: "Holding the emergency meeting in Makkah and raising voice for the Kashmiri people was a timely measure in the backdrop of India's unilateral step of August 5 of annexation," he said, adding that the meeting drew attention of the international community towards the issue.

"Eight million Muslims in occupied Kashmir are looking towards the OIC. The organisation will have to raise its voice continuously against Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir," the minister said.

The two foreign ministers reiterated their resolve to continue joint efforts for establishing peace in the region.

Pakistan to host next Saarc summit

Later in the day, FM Qureshi announced that Pakistan will be hosting the next summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) in Islamabad as no member state opposed to the proposal during an informal meeting of the foreign ministers.

He said that he participated in the meeting, after his Indian counterpart left, and presented his viewpoint.

Declaring it a "good development", he said that Pakistan will proposed dates for the 19th summit. He recalled that Islamabad was to host the 19th summit of the regional bloc in November 2016 but India on that occasion forced its cancellation by pulling out of the meeting.

Since then, Pakistan has not been able to convene the event because of a virtual Indian veto in "one pretext or another". Participation of all member states is mandatory for the convening of a Saarc summit.

The foreign minister said that last year he had said the forum is above "our differences" and no bilateral dispute is discussed in Saarc summits, so all members should participate in it but two members had objected over it.

"Today, when we discussed Saarc summit [...] Being a host, I invited all Saarc members to Islamabad for the summit," he said, adding that this year no one objected to the proposal and it was decided that the next summit will be held in Islamabad.