Continuing contact with India, Pak missions on Kashmir: UN
By Arul Louis
United Nations, Aug 9 (IANS) The UN is continuing contacts with India and Pakistan through their permanent missions regarding the Kashmir situation, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.
Asked at his daily briefing if any progress was being through the contacts, he said: "I can't say I have any updates to bring to you on that front."
When a reporter asked if Guterres, who is on vacation, can do anything about the situation, Dujarric said: "The Secretary General has been kept informed, very much informed of what is going on and what the contacts that the UN has had by the permanent missions, both from the Indian Permanent Mission and the Permanent Mission of Pakistan."
"What we are saying publicly is also being transmitted privately to Pakistan and India," he said.
On Thursday, Dujarric said that Guterres has appealed for "maximum restraint" and called "on all parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir".
"The Secretary General is also concerned over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir, which could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region," he added.
Dujarric also said that the UN position is that the region is "governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions".
He said that Guterres also recalled 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".
As a background historical note, the Simla Agreement signed in the aftermath of the Bangladesh War by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was Pakistan's President, also stated that disputes between the two countries should be dealt with bilaterally, effectively ruling out third party involvement.
The Security Council resolution adopted on April 21, 1948, on holding a plebiscite in Kashmir asked Pakistan to withdraw its personnel, including those who had invaded it in the guise of "tribesmen," from all of Kashmir as the first step.
Pakistan refused to pull back, making a plebiscite impossible to hold. Under the circumstance, India has said that the people of Kashmir had had their say by participating in state and national elections.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @arulouis)