UN holds Kashmir talks as rights fears continue

16th Jan 2020
UN holds Kashmir talks as rights fears continue

By James Reinl

 

UNITED NATIONS (AA): UN Security Council members held rare talks on the disputed region of Kashmir on Wednesday amid ongoing concerns over the flashpoint between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan.

After the meeting, senior Russian diplomat Dmitry Polyanskiy said the 15-nation body had discussed the contentious Indian-administered region, where New Delhi has been accused of abuses against its mostly-Muslim population.

“UNSC discussed Kashmir in closed consultations,” Polyanskiy said in a tweet to his nearly 6,000 followers shortly after the discussions ended on Wednesday.

“Russia firmly stands for the normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. We hope that differences between them will be settled through bilateral efforts based on the 1972 Simla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore Declaration.”

According to reports, France, an ally of India, had opposed China’s request to hold the closed-door talks on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at the world body’s headquarters in New York.

Last month, the United States, Britain, France, and Russia blocked a previous attempt by China to discuss the issue at another closed-door meeting. The council last discussed Kashmir in August 2019.

The U.N. chief’s spokesman said in a brief statement after the meeting that Mr. Guterres “reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability in South Asia through political dialogue, diplomatic solutions and respect for human rights.”

China has long voiced concern over the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, and said it supports Pakistan in its fight for the Kashmiris.

China’s U.N. ambassador Zhang Jun told the media after the closed meeting that China remains “concerned about the situation on the ground” in Kashmir.

“I’m sure the meeting will be a help in both parties to understand the risk of further escalation and encourage them to approach to each other and to have dialogue and to seek means to seek solutions through dialogue,” Zhang said.

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in part and claim the Himalayan region in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan that have fought two wars over the territory.

UN peacekeepers have been deployed since 1949 to observe a ceasefire between India and Pakistan.

Long-fraught relations between the two South Asian nuclear rivals flared up further after India scrapped the special provisions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and imposed a near-complete lockdown on Aug. 5.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other major international campaign outfits have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions, release political detainees and switch all telecommunications back on.

The latest flareup was sparked by Indian government’s decision to revoke Article 370 on August 5 and following shut down in the Valley. Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because Wednesday’s meeting was closed, said China wanted a review of the U.N. observer mission in Kashmir. But the overwhelming number of countries on the 15-member council urged deescalation and said the dispute is bilateral and should be resolved by India and Pakistan.

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo: Indian security forces beat a protester after detaining him in Nowgam area of Srinagar, Kashmir on January 07, 2020. A student Tahseen Nazir was killed when a police vehicle rammed into a car resulting in the death of the student.Clashes erupted between angry protesters and police soon after. Photographer: Faisal Khan/AA]

 

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