UNSC postpones Kashmir meeting after France disagrees

Updated 18 Dec 2019

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Five permanent members of the Security Council were expected to meet on Tuesday at China’s request to discuss the situation in the disputed region, but the meeting had to be postponed after France opposed the move. — AP/File
Five permanent members of the Security Council were expected to meet on Tuesday at China’s request to discuss the situation in the disputed region, but the meeting had to be postponed after France opposed the move. — AP/File

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday postponed a special meeting on occupied Kashmir, but a UN spokesman did express concern on the current situation in the India-held valley.

“We’re, obviously, aware and watching the situation and watching the situation closely,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at his daily news briefing at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

Five permanent members of the Security Council were expected to meet on Tuesday at China’s request to discuss the situation in the disputed region, but the meeting had to be postponed after France opposed the move.

Any of five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — can shoot down a UNSC meeting by simply disagreeing with the proposal.

Earlier, a journalist reminded Mr Dujarric that since Aug 5, people in the occupied territory have been living under curfew, lockdown and an information blackout.

The UN spokesman said he was aware of the situation but did not have anything new to report.

On Tuesday afternoon, a French diplomatic source told Indian journalists in New York that his country had opposed the proposed meeting. “Our position has been very clear. Kashmir issue has to be treated bilaterally [between India and Pakistan]. We have highlighted this several times,” the source said.

The UNSC held its last meeting on Kashmir on Aug 16, after China asked the world body to review the rising tensions between South Asia’s two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, over the dispute. The issue had remained dormant since December 1971, when the UNSC held its last meaningful meeting on Kashmir.

In a letter to the Security Council on Dec 12, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressed concern about a possible escalation of tensions in the held valley.

“In view of the seriousness of the situation and the risk of further escalation, China would like to echo the request of Pakistan, and request a briefing of the council ... on the situation of Jammu and Kashmir,” China’s UN mission wrote in a note to council members.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2019