UNITED NATIONS Secretary General Antonio Guterres has, once again, refused to get drawn into the J&K situation and appealed to India and Pakistan to engage on the issue “through dialogue”. Guterres, however, expressed concern about any potential escalation between the two sides.
The Secretary General’s position was made clear after Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi met him in New York.
Responding to questions about possible mediation, Guterres’ spokesperson told reporters in New York: “Our position on mediation has, as a matter of principle, has always remained the same. The Secretary-General has had contacts both with the Government of Pakistan and the Government of India. He saw the Prime Minister of India at the sidelines of the G7 not long ago. He had spoken to the Foreign Minister of Pakistan. Yesterday, at her request, he met with the Permanent Representative of Pakistan in his office.”
The spokesperson said: “His message to all of them has been the same, both publicly and privately, that he remains very concerned about any potential escalation between India and Pakistan over the situation. He appeals to both sides to deal with the issue through dialogue. And, as was said by the High Commissioner for Human Rights recently, the situation in Kashmir can only be solved with the full respect of human rights.”
Modi met Guterres in Biarritz on the sidelines of the G-7 meeting on August 26, and laid out India’s basic position on the issue that it is an “internal matter” and Article 370 is under the Indian Constitution. On the international front, Modi told Guterres that “no step has been taken by India in any way or form to threaten the regional peace and stability”.
Toeing UNSC line
Last month, informal closed-door consultations on Kashmir took place at the UN Security Council, which ended without the UNSC taking a stand. Taking a cue from the Council’s permanent members, the Secretary General has not yet waded into the diplomatic tussle between India and Pakistan.
UN Secretary General’s spokesperson’s comments came a day after the latest war of words between India and Pakistan at the United Nations Human Rights Council, just two weeks before the Prime Ministers of both are to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 27.
Hours after Pakistan called on the UNHRC to not remain “indifferent” after India revoked J&K’s special status under Article 370, New Delhi hit out at Islamabad for “misusing” the platform for “malicious political agendas under the garb of human rights”.
Pakistan has now claimed that it has prepared a joint statement on behalf of over 50 countries, which says they share the concern expressed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the impact of India’s J&K decision on the rights of people in Kashmir. However, it has not yet disclosed the names of the countries that are signatories to the statement.