UN chief in Pakistan amid Kashmir tensions

Ban will hold talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Afp August 13, 2013
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (R) stands beside Sartaj Aziz (L), foreign affairs adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, after meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad August 13, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday for a two-day visit as tensions remain high between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.

Ban will hold talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as well as meeting young people and getting a briefing on work to combat floods in Pakistan.

The trip comes as Pakistan and India trade accusations over several firing incidents across the Line of Control.

Islamabad on Monday summoned India's deputy ambassador to protest at what it called "unprovoked shelling" which killed one civilian.

India's army accused Pakistan on Tuesday of firing across the border in Kashmir overnight, but did not report any casualties.

Despite the Kashmir tensions, the UN said Ban's visit would focus on education efforts.

"In line with Malala Day last month he will meet with students in Islamabad to discuss efforts to promote and expand quality education for all," a UN statement said.

The day was declared in honour of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager campaigning for girls' education who survived a gunshot to the head from Taliban extremists in October 2012.

The 16-year-old gave a moving speech at the United Nations in New York last month in which she vowed to continue to work for gender equality in education.

Nearly half of all children in Pakistan and almost three quarters of young girls are not enrolled in primary school, according to UN and government statistics.

Ban will also meet the Speaker of the National Assembly.

He will attend Pakistan's independence day celebrations on Wednesday and will highlight the country's role as one of the largest contributors of troops and police to UN peacekeeping missions.

During his visit officials of Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority will brief him about the floods in the country, where annual monsoon rains from July to September bring misery to thousands and inundate towns and villages.

Monsoon rains triggering floods have killed 84 people across Pakistan and affected more than 80,000 others this month, and officials have warned of further downpours.