UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations has confirmed that India’s Aug 5 measures resulted in the rise of tensions in the region, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.

At a Wednesday night news briefing inside the UN headquarters in New York, the foreign minister said the world body shared this observation at a UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting earlier on Wednesday.

At this closed-door UNSC meeting, representatives of the UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) and the UN secretariat briefed members on the situation in India-held Kashmir.

“The UN in its briefing has confirmed the India’s Aug 5 measures resulted in the rise of tensions and that the local situation remains tense,” Mr Qureshi said.

UN officials also confirmed that Kashmiri “political leaders remain detained; internet and communications blockage are in place. There is also deployment across the LoC — UNMOGIP is also facing restrictions on the Indian side,” he added.

The briefing was held on China’s request, which along with the United States, Russia, France and Britain, is among the five permanent members of the council. India’s Aug 5, 2019, action of illegally annexing the disputed territory has alarmed the United Nations as well, causing the Security Council to review the situation twice in less than six months. The council had held last such meeting on Kashmir in 1972.

Wednesday’s review irked India, whose UN representative first tried to hoodwink the Indian public by claiming that the council had refused to pay attention to Pakistan’s complaints on Kashmir.

But on Thursday, India asked China to avoid raising the Kashmir dispute at the Security Council, insisting it was a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan.

“China should reflect on a global consensus on Kashmir and avoid raising it at the United Nations,” India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters in New Delhi.

The report briefs presented at the UNSC meeting show why India is so upset.

Besides the tensions along LoC, the UN briefs also expressed concern on the human rights situation in the occupied territory and underlined the excessive use of force, tear gas, rubber bullets and killings.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who met Mr Qureshi at the UN headquarters on Wednesday, is monitoring the situation. So is the UN General Assembly whose president, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, also met the foreign minister.

Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed the UNSC meeting, saying that the consideration of the Kashmir situation by this august body “reflects a recognition of the seriousness of the prevailing situation”.

“Pakistan welcomes UN Security Council discussing the situation in Jammu & Kashmir again. An internationally-recognised dispute, J&K remains on the Security Council’s agenda & its consideration by the Council reflects a recognition of the seriousness of the prevailing situation,” the prime minister said in a tweet.

The foreign minister also echoed these sentiments after his meetings with UN leaders. “A solution should be found in accordance with the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements,” he said.

Mr Qureshi noted that several countries had expressed serious concern regarding the situation in occupied Kashmir, including the continued curfew and blackout imposed on the Kashmiri people and the potential threat of a conflict.

“Pakistan is gratified that the Security Council has once again considered the Jammu and Kashmir situation,” Mr Qureshi added.

The foreign minister is currently in the United States on the third leg of his mission to defuse tensions in the Middle East, having already visited Tehran and Riyadh as part of Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts.

On Thursday, he met members of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee and of the Pakistan’s congressional caucus on Capitol Hill. He also met a senior official of the US Department of Defence and addressed a Washington think-tank.

In all his engagements, Mr Qureshi highlighted Islamabad’s efforts to defuse the Iran-US tensions and its efforts to promote a peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2020