ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and UN General Assembly president Volkan Bozkir arrive for a joint press conference on Thursday.—AP
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and UN General Assembly president Volkan Bozkir arrive for a joint press conference on Thursday.—AP

• Regrets Kashmir dispute lacks the level of world support enjoyed by Palestine issue
• Says ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is the ‘first step’ and not the ‘end’

ISLAMABAD: United Nat­­­ions General Assembly (UNGA) president Volkan Bozkir on Thursday counselled ‘parties to the Jammu and Kashmir conflict’ aga­inst changing the status of the disputed territory till the matter is resolved in accordance with the UN resolutions.

“All parties must refrain from taking steps that could affect status of Jammu and Kashmir. This is the most important part of how we look at the case,” Mr Bozkir, who is on a three-day visit to Pakis­tan, said at a presser alongside Foreign Minister Shah Mah­mood Qureshi at the Foreign Office after their meeting.

He was referring to the illegal annexation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir by India in August 2019 and the measures subsequently taken by Delhi to change the demographic composition of the area through permission for outsiders to buy properties in the region and take up its domicile.

Over 430,000 new domicile certificates had been iss­ued by India till last September under the Modi government’s policy for settling Indians in Occupied Kashmir.

Reiterating UN’s policy on the dispute, Mr Bozkir said it was governed “by the United Nations Charter and applicable Security Council resolutions, and Shimla Agr­e­e­ment of 1972, which state that the final status of Jam­mu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the UN Charter”.

The UNGA chief agreed with the similarities FM Qureshi drew between Palestine and Kashmir disputes. However, he pointed out that Kashmir dispute lacked the level of international support enjoyed by the Palestine issue.

“It is the duty of Pakistan government to bring it to the United Nations platform more forcefully,” he said.

Mr Bozkir offered to hold a debate on Kashmir in the UNGA if Pakistan supported by a group of countries seeks one.

On the Palestine issue, the UNGA president said that the recently agreed ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was the “first step” and not the “end”. He suggested using the momentum on Palestine seen in the General Assembly for forcing the UNSC and Secretary General António Guterres to address the problem.

He said the resolution to the Palestine issue lay in dialogue for ending the conflict.

Mr Qureshi, on this occasion, urged the UNGA president to continue playing his role on Palestine by reviving the peace process.

“What we’ve achieved is the first milestone, but what we need is a revival of the peace process, because this is a simmering issue and the fire has not yet been extinguished.”

During their meeting, Mr Qureshi said they had discussed the Kashmir issue, Afghan peace process, UN Security Council reform, UN’s role in Financing for Development and Sustainable Infrastructure Investments, efforts to combat Islamophobia.

The FO said Mr Qureshi during the meeting underscored the need to transform the UN into a more effective, transparent, democratic, accountable and efficient body. He assured the UNGA president of Pakistan’s support for a comprehensive and consensus-based reform of the UN Security Council.

“Welcoming the PGA’s initiative of “Vaccine 4 All”, the foreign minister re-emphasised Pakistan’s call for universal access to affordable vaccines for Covid-19. He stressed the importance of removing export restrictions on vaccines and essential materials for the benefit of humanity,” the FO further said.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2021

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