The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has decided to hold “informal consultations” on Jammu and Kashmir, The Indian Express has learnt. The meeting is likely to take place in New York at 10 am local time (7.30 pm IST) Friday, sources said.
The decision comes after China approached Poland, which holds the UNSC presidency this month, to discuss Pakistan’s letter on India’s move to revoke special status for J&K and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.
New Delhi will be closely monitoring the situation, especially the shape and nuance of discussions within the UNSC since China is the only permanent member that has pushed for the consultation.
India will also track how the 15 UNSC members proceed on the issue, and whether there are any statements issued later, especially by the five permanent members, that refer to restrictions in the Valley or human rights violations.
According to rules, the outcome of UNSC’s informal consultations are “not binding”. Delhi, however, is prepared to deal with any plea by the Council to hold “bilateral dialogue” since that has been its own position as well.
South Block feels the discussions will not have any bearing on the Constitutional change that India carried out while revoking special status to J&K under Article 370. It hopes that after discussing the issue, the matter will find closure in the international diplomatic space.
Pakistan is expected to be pleased that it has been able to get the UNSC to discuss J&K — that too, after more than four decades. Whether there is any outcome or not, this will be portrayed by Pakistan as a major diplomatic victory.
However, China’s move to push Pakistan’s case has not yet found solid support among the remaining permanent members. Over the weekend, Russia became the first of the five to back New Delhi’s decision on J&K.
Russian government sources told The Indian Express Thursday that Moscow’s position remains the same as it proceeds from the understanding that differences between India and Pakistan shall be resolved on a “bilateral” basis. “If China has called for a meeting, we will be there for sure but our stand will be the same,” the sources said.
The UNSC decision also comes on a day when US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan reached Delhi and is expected to meet Indian officials Friday.
While statements from the US and UK have not been as forceful in India’s support as the Russian line, they haven’t been critical of the changes in the Constitution, either.
Earlier, PTI quoted a UN diplomat as saying that a request for such a meeting was submitted recently. “China asked for closed consultations on the Security Council agenda item ‘India Pakistan Question’. The request was in reference to the Pakistani letter to Security Council President,” the diplomat said.
Beijing, sources said, has taken up cudgels on behalf of Pakistan after its Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote to the UNSC President for an emergency meeting.
India has categorically conveyed to the international community that its move on Article 370 was an “internal matter” and advised Pakistan to “accept the reality”.
The latest turn of events comes after Qureshi went to Beijing to meet the Chinese leadership on raising Kashmir at the UNSC. After his return to Pakistan, he said Beijing fully supported Islamabad.
Meanwhile, during his bilateral meeting this week with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar conveyed that India’s decision was an “internal matter”.
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