Reiterating that issues around Article 370, i.e., special status to Jammu & Kashmir, were an internal matter, India played down the significance of Friday’s UN Security Council’s “closed consultation” meeting on Kashmir.
Indian Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin accused Pakistan and China of attempting to impart greater significance to the meeting than was warranted.
“After the end of the Security Council’s closed consultations, we noted that two states who made national statements tried to pass them off as the will of the international community,” Mr. Akbaruddin said, as he took to the podium after the meeting.
“The Security Council is a very deliberative… institution. It works in a very considered manner. Its outcomes are provided to all of us through the [UNSC] President. So if national statements try to masquerade as the will of the international community, I thought I will come across to you too and explain our national position,” he said, adding that Article 370 is an entirely internal matter of India with no external ramifications.
Neither India nor Pakistan were part of the UNSC closed-consultations, which are informal meetings that do not have a formal outcome. Sometimes “press elements” can be agreed by consensus of the UNSC members, but no such statement emerged from Friday’s meeting.
Mr. Akbaruddin told reporters that the abrogation of Article 370 was done to enhance good governance and socio-economic development in Jammu and Kashmir and that the UNSC consultations had taken note of this.
Mr. Akbaruddin, speaking after his Chinese and Pakistani counterparts and in sharp contrast to them, took questions from reporters, including from Pakistan.
‘U.N. happy with peace efforts’
Mr. Akbaruddin said the U.N. Security Council had appreciated India’s efforts to restore normalcy in Kashmir.
“The Chief Secretary of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir announced a whole set of measures that the government is undertaking to move towards normalcy. We are gratified that the Security Council in its closed consultations appreciated these efforts, acknowledged them and indicated that this was the direction in which they would like the international community to move,” he said.
The ambassador also said India was committed to all agreements it had signed on the issue and said India would sit down to talk with Pakistan when the latter’s support for terror ceased. “Stop terror to start talks,” he said.
“India’s commitment to address these issues on the bilateral track has very broad acceptance globally,” Mr. Akbaruddin said, in response to a question on Russia’s view that the issue be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan, contrary to what Pakistan was seeking at the UN on Friday.
On concerns about human rights abuses by India in Jammu and Kashmir, he said India had a commitment to democracy and its courts would resolve any issues.
“There will be issues discussed and if there are issues these will be addressed by our courts. We don’t need international busybodies to try and tell us how to run our lives. We are a billion-plus people,” he said.
Support for bilateral talks
A diplomat from a UNSC Member State told The Hindu that the majority of UNSC members backed a bilateral dialogue in accordance with the Simla Agreement.
“The dominating feeling there [at the consultation] was that all UNSC members pay close attention to the situation; according to many of them, considering that this is a bilateral dispute, the priority should therefore go to a bilateral dialogue, in accordance with the Simla agreement, with the aim to appease the tensions. The lifting of restrictions by India is perceived as a good and needed measure,” the diplomat told The Hindu.
The first to speak was China , a permanent member of the 15- member UNSC. China’s UN envoy Zhang Jun said UNSC members had “serious” concerns about the situation including the human rights situation.
“It’s the general view of members that parties concerned should refrain from taking any unilateral action that might further aggravate the tension there,” he said.
Mr. Zhang said that it was China’s view that the Kashmir issue is an international and undecided one and must be peacefully resolved in accordance with the UN charter, UNSC resolutions and bilateral agreements.
“What should be pointed out is that India’s action has also challenged China’s sovereign interests and violated bilateral agreements,” Mr Zhang said, saying China was seriously concerned about the issue.
China and India share a disputed border in the Aksai Chin region of Ladakh.
Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said the fact that the UNSC consultation was held signified that the issue was not internal to India and that Pakistan stands ready for a “peaceful settlement” of the dispute.
“I think today this meeting nullifies India’s claim that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter for India. Today the whole world is discussing the occupied state and the situation there. As the Chinese ambassador emphasised, the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir, and it is an abysmal human rights situation with violations carried out with impunity by India – that too has been discussed by the Security Council today.”
Ms. Lodhi quoted Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahood Qureshi as saying this was the first step Pakistan was taking on behalf of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“This is the first and not the last step. It will not end here,” she said.
U.N. Security Council meeting on Kashmir: Stop terror to start talks, India tells Pakistan – The Hindu