UNSC to take up Kashmir issue on Friday


–UNSC to hold special session ‘behind closed doors’ despite proposition from France to act otherwise

–‘Landmark achievement’ as Kashmir session will be held after 50 years, says FM Qureshi

NEW YORK: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will hold a session to discuss the situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.

China on Wednesday backed Pakistan’s request for the UNSC to discuss India’s decision to revoke the special status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, asking for the body to meet “behind closed doors” on Friday, diplomats said.

In its response, France proposed that the council discuss the issue in a less formal manner – known as “any other business” – next week, diplomats said. It will be up to Poland, president of the council for August, to mediate an agreed time and format among the 15 members.

However, UNSC President Joanna Wronecka told reporters on Wednesday that “the UNSC will discuss the Jammu and Kashmir situation behind closed doors most likely on August 16”.

This development came after China formally asked for “closed consultations” in the security council to discuss Kashmir dispute which has long been a flashpoint in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi asserted that the discussion on Kashmir in the UNSC after four decades “is a landmark diplomatic achievement”.

While talking to media, he said the issue was last discussed at the UN body in 1971. After that there was a cursory mention of Kashmir in 1998 when Pakistan conducted nuclear tests.

Qureshi stressed the world needs to realise that it was the matter of humanity and not a piece of land between the two countries. He further said India has put a complete clampdown on movement of Kashmiris with reports of food and medicine shortages in the held territory.

The August 5 decision by India blocks the right of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there. Telephone lines, internet, and television networks have been blocked and there are restrictions on movement and assembly.

Meanwhile, a senior Pakistani official in the UN told Pakistan Today on the condition of anonymity that India is trying its best to get the meeting postponed.

Earlier, Pakistan drew the attention of the UNSC presidency to the grave threat to peace and security in the region after India annexed occupied Kashmir and called for summoning an emergency meeting of the council to discuss the rapidly aggravating situation.

“Pakistan will not provoke a conflict. But India should not mistake our restraint for weakness,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote in a letter to the Security Council on Tuesday. “If India chooses to resort again to the use of force, Pakistan will be obliged to respond, in self-defense, with all its capabilities.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on India and Pakistan to refrain from any steps that could affect the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Guterres also said he was concerned about reports of restrictions on the Indian side of Kashmir.

The UN Security Council adopted several resolutions in 1948 and in the 1950s on the dispute between India and Pakistan over the region, including one which says a plebiscite should be held to determine the future of the mostly Muslim Kashmir.

Another resolution also calls upon both sides to “refrain from making any statements and from doing or causing to be done or permitting any acts which might aggravate the situation.”

UN peacekeepers have been deployed since 1949 to observe a ceasefire between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir.


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