UN chief cautions against altering status of Kashmir

Published: August 8, 2019
Antonio Gutterres. PHOTO: AFP

Antonio Gutterres. PHOTO: AFP

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations chief Antonio Guterres called Thursday on India “to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir.”

“The Secretary-General has been following the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with concern and makes an appeal for maximum restraint,” his spokesperson said.

India’s Hindu nationalist government stripped the disputed region of its autonomy earlier this week in a move that sent shock waves through South Asia and has seen the restive area come under military lockdown.

Internet and telephone connections in occupied Kashmir have been cut since Monday and a curfew imposed as the authorities feared trouble when the decision was announced.

The statement said that “position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions”.

Guterres recalled the 1972 Simla agreement between India and Pakistan “which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations”.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration rushed through a presidential decree on Monday to ditch the Muslim-majority region’s constitutionally-guaranteed status.

The Indian parliament also passed a law splitting the state into two territories.

By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in occupied Kashmir and settle there permanently.

Pakistani vantage point

Pakistan’s envoy to the UN Maleeha Lodhi, told journalist Christiane Amanpour, on her CNN show that despite New Delhi’s illegal move to revoke IOK’s special status, Islamabad has still kept all diplomatic and political options on the table.

“This all started by the Indian government’s illegal accession of state of Jammu and Kashmir which is internationally recognised dispute,” she told Amanpour.

Lodhi said that there were a series of UNSC resolutions calling for the Indian government to allow the Kashmiri people the right to self-determination through a plebiscite.

“These people [Kashmiris] have been deprived of their liberties for 70 years now…and now they are going to be deprived of their identity,” she lamented.

The Pakistani diplomat said New Delhi wanted to change IOK’s demographic, which is a direct threat to the Kashmiri people’s identity.

Lodhi said Pakistan has rejected the Narendra Modi-led government’s move.

“We have no intention of escalating the situation,” she said.

She said the international community must stand for principle and law, adding that, “They [India] have moved additional troops to IOK to suppress the voice of the Kashmiri people.”

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