UN chief repeats call for Kashmir dialogue


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday repeated his concerns over the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir, where people have been languishing under a tight lockdown for the past two months.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a regular briefing in New York that the secretary general again urges India and Pakistan to hold dialogue to resolve the crisis. “The secretary general’s position on Kashmir has not changed,” Dujarric said.

Responding to a question about the worsening humanitarian situation in the occupied Kashmir, where nearly eight million people are living in an open prison without basic rights, the spokesman said human rights issue needs to be addressed.

“[The human rights issue has] to be in the forefront,” the spokesperson told reporters. He added that the UN chief had underscored the need for addressing human rights of Kashmiri people in order to resolve the crisis.

“Our message on Kashmir has not changed as the situation on the ground has not changed, so I would refer you to what we’ve already said, expressing our concern, encouraging dialogue, and saying that the situation in Kashmir, if it’s going to be solved politically, needs to have human rights at its centre.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan raised the Kashmir issue in his speech at the General Assembly as well as his bilateral meetings with Guterres last month. Imran’s speech was longest at the general debate was 50 minutes, Dujarric said. The shortest was from Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

According to the UN spokesperson, the secretary general had been following closely the recent waves of street demonstrations that have been taking place in several countries around the world, including occupied Kashmir.

“He is deeply concerned that some of these protests have led to violence and, regretfully, in some instances have resulted in the loss of life and serious injuries,” Dujarric said. “The secretary general restates that freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental rights.”

The secretary general, he said, reiterates his call for security forces to act at all times with maximum restraint and to respond to any acts of violence in conformity with relevant international human rights standards on the use of force by law enforcement officials.

Responding to another question about the report that senior Afghan Taliban leaders met Pakistan officials, the spokesperson said: “We would believe that… I think a resumption of the dialogue [with US] would, hopefully, help the situation [in the war-torn country].”

Dujarric said in a new report issued on the impact of conflict on children in Afghanistan, the Secretary General said he was deeply disturbed by the scale, severity and recurrence of grave violations endured by boys and girls.