Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has met United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York, where he apprised the UN chief about the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir.
The minister, in his meeting, told the UN secretary-general that Pakistan remained committed to holding a dialogue with India over the situation in the disputed valley, which has been under a military lockdown since August 5.
“India has been backtracking from talks, but Pakistan remains committed,” Qureshi told the media after his meeting. “The international community should play its role in helping the people of the occupied valley from Indian subjugation and suppression.”
The UN Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday afternoon met behind closed doors to discuss the Kashmir issue for second time in less than six months.
In August last year, the Security Council had, for the first time in over five decades, met to discuss the critical human rights situation in the scenic valley.
Qureshi, while talking to media about his meeting with Guterres, added that the Kashmir issue was not India’s internal matter.
“This is the second time in five months that the Security Council discussed the Kashmir issue,” he said.
The minister also thanked China for convening the UN Security Council session “on the prevailing situation in occupied Kashmir”.
China has long voiced concern over the situation in the valley and said that it supports Pakistan in its fight for the Kashmiris.
Responding to a question, Qureshi said that he had also apprised the UN chief about Pakistan’s efforts in de-escalating the tensions simmering in the Middle East.
“I also briefed the UN chief about the progress of my recent visits to Saudi Arabia and Iran. Pakistan is doing what it can to de-escalate the situation between Iran and the US,” he said.
“Recent developments seriously endanger peace and security in an already volatile region and underscore the need for immediate and collective efforts for a peaceful resolution,” the Foreign Office had said as Qureshi left for Tehran on the first leg of his trip.
Earlier, the foreign minister had in a statement said that Iran owning up to its mistake of downing the Ukrainian passenger plane would likely ease up tensions in the region.
“Iran’s confession of downing Ukrainian passenger plane should ease up tensions as the region can neither endure tension nor can it tolerate war anymore,” he had said.
Qureshi reiterated that Pakistan would play an active role to reduce growing tensions in the region.
Iranian armed forces had admitted that they unintentionally shot down the Ukrainian airliner that crashed this week and blamed “human error” for the mistake.
The foreign minister, in his talks with the US leadership, will focus on Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach, which has been undertaken on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan, in the wake of the recent tensions in the Middle East.
The foreign minister will now travel to Washington where he will meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser Robert O’ Brian, and other senior US administration officials.
He will also have meetings on the Capitol Hill, besides engagements with the media, policy think tanks and the Pakistani diaspora.
Meanwhile, Chinese ambassador Zhang Jun has confirmed that the Council had met to review the situation in the occupied valley.
“We had a meeting on Jammu and Kashmir,” he said after the meeting, adding the 15-member Council was briefed by the UN secretariat on the situation on the ground.
The Department of Peace Operations and the Department of Political and Peace-building Affairs briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in Kashmir, followed by a discussion on the situation among Council members.
Qureshi also attended the UN meeting in New York before jetting off to Washington later in the evening.
The Chinese envoy said Qureshi had penned letters to the Security Council, drawing its attention to the situation in Kashmir, where the people were suffering under a military lockdown since August 5.
“The issue of India and Pakistan is always on the agenda of the Security Council,” the Chinese ambassador said, pointing out that “recently, we have also seen some tensions”.
When asked what was China’s position on the situation in Kashmir, Jun said: “Our position is very clear. China regards Kashmir as a territory disputed between India and Pakistan, and supports UN resolutions calling for the exercise by Kashmiri people of their right to self-determination through a UN-supervised plebiscite.”
“I am sure the meeting helped both parties to understand the risk of further escalation and will encourage them to approach to each other and to have dialogue and to seek means to seek solutions through dialogues,” he added.
Senior Russian diplomat Dmitry Polyanskiy, who also attended the session, tweeted after the meeting that the 15-member 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,” said Polyanskiy. “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,” he added.
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