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NEW YORK: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members met for the first time in over five decades on Friday to discuss the critical situation in Indian Held Kashmir, urging parties to the dispute to refrain from taking any unilateral action.
The UNSC met behind closed doors at the request of China and Pakistan to discuss the revocation of the special status of IHK by Narendra Modi-led Indian government. The council has taken up the issue after more than 50 years since it was last discussed on the platform, effectively rejecting India’s stance that IHK was an internal issue and not an internationally recognised dispute.
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi, welcomed the UNSC meeting and said the country was "grateful to China for calling this meeting". "The voice of the Kashmiri people has been heard today. The fact that this meeting took place is testimony to the fact that this is an internationally recognised dispute. This meeting has reaffirmed the validity of the UNSC resolutions on the status of Jammu and Kashmir," she said while talking to reporters after the meeting.
"I think this meeting nullifies that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter for India,” she added. She said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had conveyed that this was "the first step that we (Pakistan) have taken on behalf of the people of Jammu and Kashmir…the first but not the last step".
Speaking to reporters after the UNSC meeting, Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun said members of the Security Council had expressed serious concern about the human rights situation in Indian Held Jammu and Kashmir, and that parties to the dispute should refrain from unilateral action that may aggravate the situation.
China proposed that the Security Council issue a statement on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, but diplomats said the United States, France and Germany objected. Such statements are agreed by consensus.
China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun summed up the council discussions, describing serious concern over the situation. No other Security Council members spoke publicly after the meeting. Zhang told reporters that the situation in Kashmir was "already very tense and very dangerous."
"The Security Council has just held an informal consultation and listened very carefully to the briefings and reports from the secretariat including a briefing from the military observer group on the ground that helped us understand the situation better. The secretary general also issued a statement a few days ago," said Zhang.
"Members have expressed that there are serious concerns concerning the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. They are also concerned about the human rights situation there and it is the general view of the members that parties concerned should refrain from taking any unilateral action which might further aggravate tensions."
"China holds the view that the issue of Jammu Kashmir is an issue left from history between India and Pakistan. According to UNSC resolutions, the status of Kashmir is undecided and it is an internationally recognized dispute. The Kashmir issue should be resolved properly through peaceful means in accordance with the UN charter, the relevant SC resolutions and bilateral agreements. This represents the international community's consensus," said China's ambassador to the UN.
"It is obvious that the constitutional amendment by India has changed the status quo in Kashmir, causing tension in the region. China is deeply concerned about the current situation and opposes any unilateral action that complicates the situation," he added.
Zhang said it’s obvious that the constitutional amendment by India had changed the status quo in Kashmir, causing tensions in the region and called for the issue to be resolved through peaceful means according to the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.
Addressing a press conference at the UNSC, India’s UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said the decision was an internal matter and that the country was committed to ensuring the situation remained “calm and peaceful.”
He accused Zhang of trying to pass off his remarks as “the will of the international community.”
In response to a question about human rights, Akbaruddin said: “If there are issues, they will be discussed, they will be addressed by our courts; we don’t need international busybodies to try and tell us how to run our lives. We are a billion-plus people.”
Akbaruddin defended his country’s decision to scrap provisions of Article 370 and said it was an internal matter. He criticized Pakistan and said it was misleading the world. He said Article 370 had "no external ramifications".
"Our national position was and remains that matter related to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is entirely an internal matter of India," Syed Akbaruddin said. "The chief secretary of J&K has announced that the union territories are moving towards normalcy. Internal changes are not changing the external orientation. We are committed to all the agreement we have signed on this issue," he said.
In a related development, US President Donald Trump Friday called up Prime Minister Imran Khan and expressed his serious concern over the situation in South Asia in the wake of Indian government’s action to annex Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) and its splitting by defying the UN resolutions.
Sources told The News that the conversation [between the two leaders] continued for more than 20 minutes just before the commencement of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members’ close door meeting.
Imran briefed the US president about the recent developments and took him into confidence on the position that Pakistan is following. The prime minister also discussed with President Trump Pakistan’s effort to approach the United Nations against the Indian act and human rights worst situation in IHK.
President Trump had offered mediation between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir dispute on the request of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while the same was accepted by Pakistan during a meeting between Prime Minister Imran and President Trump at the White House last month.
The mediation offer triggered a wave of anger in India and subsequently Modi’s extremist government denied any mediation proposal and imprisoned the whole population of IHK. Sources said Prime Minister Imran expressed his anguish about the plight of Kashmiri people who have been facing severe curfew for the last twelve days.
The two leaders agreed to maintain their liaison in the interest of peace and region. Prime Minister Khan has already spoken to a number of world leaders about the IHK situation and had discussions with important people of the administration after the telephonic talk with Trump.
The White House also issued a statement about the meeting urging that Pakistan engage with India to defuse tensions in the flashpoint region of Kashmir.
"The president conveyed the importance of India and Pakistan reducing tensions through bilateral dialogue regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir," deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in the statement. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi later briefed the nation on the Trump-Imran conversation through a recorded statement.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday said Narendra Modi-led Hindu supremacist government should know that the fascist tactics adopted in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) will fail to defeat the Kashmiris’ indigenous freedom struggle, which does not fear death.
In tweets, the prime minister warned Modi that a nation that did not fear death could not be stopped from achieving its goal, i.e. freedom. “The fascist, Hindu Supremacist Modi government should know that while armies, militants & terrorists can be defeated by superior forces, history tells us that when a nation unites in a freedom struggle & does not fear death, no force can stop it from achieving its goal,” he said in a tweet.
“That is why the Hindutva exclusivist creed of the Modi-led government with its fascist tactics in IHK will fail miserably in its attempt to smother the Kashmiri liberation struggle,” he noted.
Imran, who has likened Modi's fascism to the Nazi era, earlier warned the international community that its silence on the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Muslims would lead to severe repercussions in the Muslim world.
He has feared Srebrenica-like massacre in the IHK. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Friday said a meeting had been called for tomorrow (Saturday) to discuss the Kashmir situation. Speaking to the media in Islamabad, Qureshi said various institutions would be part of the meeting and a future plan of action — in light of today's historical progress and success — would be set.
As recent as early morning today, Qureshi said, there was information that India was trying to not let the UNSC meeting take place. He, however, added that he had congratulated "all our people today for India has been unmasked".
"The Kashmir issue has been discussed by the Security Council for the first time today after five decades," the minister said, adding that he wished to express his gratitude to the members of the UNSC, who were not swayed by India’s efforts and continued their meeting as scheduled.
Qureshi commented on how India had kept the issue of IHK hidden from the world and that the UNSC called a meeting 72 hours after Pakistan made its request.
According to the foreign minister, the UN military observers and political affairs representatives were called to the meeting on Kashmir, wherein a clear and detailed discussed was held. India's case, Qureshi added, was based on the point that occupied Kashmir was an internal issue and hence the matter should not be taken to the UNSC.
Qureshi further said the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres maintained that the issue of Kashmir could only be resolved in accordance with the UN resolutions. "It's clear now that the world is observing the situation in occupied Kashmir," he said, adding that the global fraternity believed that there were truths to be revealed.
The foreign minister also spoke of how ground realities in occupied Kashmir would be ascertained after the curfew is lifted and communication resumed. "We have to stand strong with the Kashmiri people until the end. People expressed solidarity with Kashmiris the world over [and] the international media unmasked India's true face," he said.
"No Kashmiri supports India's stance," Qureshi stressed, adding, "India should observe the situation after removing the curfew and resuming communication in the conflicted region”. Qureshi also noted that Pakistan would continue its diplomatic, moral, and political support for Kashmiri people. A message has been sent to the world that Kashmiris are not alone in their struggle," he added.