UNITED NATIONS: Concerns about Kashmir — and the need to balance its relations with major powers — forced Pakistan not to participate in a UN vote on Ukraine earlier this week.

The UN General Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution calling on countries not to recognise the four regions of Ukraine that Russia has claimed through referendums held under its occupation.

In the vote, 143 countries out of the 193-member body voted in favour of the resolution, while only five voted against it. Pakistan was among the 35 countries — including India — that abstained.

Later, in a note of explanation submitted to the General Assembly, Pakistan clarified why it had abstained.

UN envoy says respect for states’ territorial integrity applies to held Kashmir as much as Ukraine

Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram explained that Pakistan fully supports the resolution’s call for respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states — a principle which also applies to Ukraine, as to other member states.

“States cannot be torn apart by the use of force. These principles must be consistently and universally respected,” Mr Akram said.

This is an argument that Pakistan has often used at various UN fora while explaining why it does not recognise the elections under Indian occupation forces in held Jammu and Kashmir.

“In the case of the referenda mentioned in the draft resolution, we acknowledge Ukraine’s complex history and the provisions of the Minsk Agreement,” Ambassador Akram said.

He explained that under international law, the right of self- determination applies to peoples who are under foreign or colonial domination, and to “those who have not yet exercised the right to self-determination, as in the case of Jammu & Kashmir.”

Pakistan’s abstention also echoed in the weekly briefing by the FO spokesperson in Islamabad on Friday, when a journalist asked for an explanation of the decision.

The spokesperson said that the abstention was “a well-considered, principled, and objective position on this issue” and it has “enabled us space to engage with both sides.”

He urged the international community also to “understand and respect Pakistan’s independent position, which is based on our own considerations and context.”

The spokesperson pointed out that Pakistan was “unambiguous in pronouncing our position on the illegality and unacceptability of the referenda organised in Ukraine.” He also underlined the reference to held Kashmir in Pakistan’s response, which pointed that India’s illegal actions in the valley were in complete violation of international law, adding that the Indian actions “must also receive similar concern and condemnation.”

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2022

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