UN chief refuses to interfere on Kashmir issue, asks India-Pakistan to resolve through dialogue

Guterres met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G7 Summit last month. (Source: Twitter/MEA)

A day after India and Pakistan had a face-off at the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday expressed concern on the potential escalation between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue and appealed to both sides to solve it through dialogue, PTI reported.

His (Antonio Guterres) message to all of them has been the same, both publicly and privately, that 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, PTI quoted UN chief’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric as saying.

Dujarric’s remarks came after he was asked whether Guterres planed to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir during the UN General Assembly session later this month that would be attended by both Prime Miniter Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Imran Khan.

You know, the position our position on mediation has, as a matter of principle, has always remained the same, Dujarric said.

On Kashmir, the United Nations has cited the Simla Agreement of 1972, a bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan that rejects third-party mediation in Kashmir.

"The 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Simla Agreement, 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," the UN said in a statement last month after approached by Pakistan to mediate on the issue.

Dujarric further quoted the High Commissioner for Human Rights and said the situation in Kashmir could only be solved with the full respect of human rights.

Guterres met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G7 Summit last month in Biarritz, France and has also spoken to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Dujarric informed the press on Tuesday. On Monday, the UN chief also met the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN Maleeha Lodhi on her request over the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan so far has approached the UN twice in relation with the Kashmir issue. However, the global body has so far not acceded to Pakistan’s request. In August, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a closed-door, informal consultation on the Kashmir situation, although there were no statements or outcomes.

India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.

(With PTI inputs)