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Thursday June 13, 2024

Pakistan to raise Kashmir issue at UNGA summit

By Saleh Zaafir
August 17, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has planned to raise the Kashmir issue with full vigour in the upcoming summit of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) commencing mid next month although it would be subdued affair since most of the countries have informed the world body not to attend it at the head of state/government echelon.

It is unlikely that any of the P-5 (The US, China, Russia, France and United Kingdom) will be represented by their heads of government except US President Donald Trump viewed traditionally as host and he will deliver opening address as per tradition.

Pakistan has suggested for holding the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Contact Group on Kashmir exclusive session on the brinks of the UNGA at the UN headquarters where the developments with regard to the issue including Indian brutalities against the Kashmiri people and flagrant defiance of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions should be taken up for discussion.

The Group is headed by Turkey while Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Niger and Pakistan are members. The Group had its virtual meeting in June last where various aspects of the issue came under discussion.

Well-placed diplomatic sources told The News here Sunday that Pakistan’s Permanent Representative (PR) for the United Nations Munir Akram has informed the government that the UNGA would be a low key affair this time due to COVID-19 and unfortunately New York where the UN headquarters is housed, badly infected by the virus. The report suggested that President Trump has hinted about his availability for the opening of the session and in his words “for making an important statement.” But the sources maintained that it couldn’t be stated with fair amount of certainty that the US president will turn up for the historic sitting of the summit.

The UN secretary general secretariat has made it clear to the missions of different countries that no country will be permitted to have more than two persons inside the auditorium of the UNGA on the occasion including the head of the delegation. The social distancing and other SOPs regarding COVID-19 would be adhered strictly. The sources said that Foreign Office here will put up its recommendations for representation in the UNGA to the Prime Minister Office (PMO) before end of the month as the event with the participation of the heads of state/government or delegations would be starting on September 21. Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is a keen orator, would like to address the UNGA through his virtual address. As far his personal appearance at the UN headquarters, it depends on the virus dissemination in New York during the days of the session. He could opt to travel to New York provided the situation improves.

In that case he would get an opportunity to have meeting with the US president. The UN headquarters have asked all the countries to dispatch their heads of delegation (head of state/government) recorded speeches of 15 minutes each or they can address the world body through virtual arrangement for same duration.

It is less likely that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who has become centre of controversy due to his assertions about the OIC would be leader of Pakistan’s delegation or part of it for the UNGA summit. His role has also been disputed by some members of the cabinet regarding Kashmir issue. Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood and about three senior officials of the Foreign Office would travel to New York for the summit. He will have to represent the country in several sideline meetings including bilateral consultations. The sources said the country’s PR at the UN headquarters could be asked to lead Pakistan’s delegation in the regular sittings like number of countries which have already hinted to the UN secretary general secretariat about it.

The 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 75) will open on September 15, and the first day of the high-level General Debate will be Tuesday, 22 September 2020.

The UN will mark its 75th anniversary with a one-day high-level meeting at the opening of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly. This special event will take place on September 21, 2020. The theme for this event will be: 'The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism'. Additional events expected to take place during the opening weeks of the 75th session of the UNGA include: Biodiversity Summit; and a high-level meeting to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW), which took place in Beijing, China in September 1995 Beijing+25.

The Climate Week NYC-2020 will take place virtually in parallel to the opening week of the UNGA. The sources pointed out that New Delhi has informally intimated the UN secretary general that its Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not be able to present in the UNGA summit.