United Nations secretary general Antonio Gueterres kicked off the 74th session of the world body on Wednesday clearly telling Pakistan to resolve its issues with recent developments in Kashmir, which it has sought to internationalize, through bilateral dialogue with India.
“Dialogue between India and Pakistan is an absolutely essential element for the solution of the problem,” Gueterres said at a news conference to mark the opening of world body’s annual month-long session, reiterating an earlier statement reminding Pakistan of its commitment to resolving differences with India bilaterally under the 1972 Simla Agreement.
The secretary general also reiterated that “human rights must be fully respected in the territory”
Pakistan has called the change in the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir — the revocation of Article 375 — as a violation of international law and has been lobbying the UN and the Security Council for intervention. It had sought a discussion of the UNSC to make its case before the full body at an open discussion that are telecast live. But was granted, only with China’s help, an informal discussion behind closed doors.
Islamabad hasn’t given up. Its permanent representative to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, has raised the issue of Kashmir at every forum, meeting and discussion since, including one on UN peacekeeping operations on September 9 and in a debate on the UN Security Council report on September 17.
“There has been yet another attempt by one delegation to misuse this forum to spread baseless and deceitful narratives about my country,” Sandeep Kumar Bayyapu, a diplomat from the Indian permanent mission, shot back. He did not name that delegation was but it became clear who he meant when he called it a “but of terrorism”.
Gueterres has steadfastly held to his position “publicly and privately”, his spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said last week, citing the secretary general’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G-7 in Biarritz, France, phone conversation with Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and personally to Permanent Representative Lodi.
Gueterres’s message to them was the same: “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.”
Despite these repeated rebuffs, Pakistan has continued its efforts and Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to raise it once again in his maiden speech to the UN general assembly on September 27 — the same day as Prime Minister Modi — and his delegation will raise it all the usual meeting, think tank events and media interaction that lace on the sidelines of the debates.
Khan will raise it for sure at his meetings with President Donald Trump — they are meeting twice, according to Pakistan media reports — and seek his intervention, as he did during their meeting at the White House past July.