Saturday, 8 February 2014

UN reignites Kashmir debate, India says mind your business

UN reignites Kashmir debate, India says mind your business
Reacting to reports that the United Nations (UN) is available to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, New Delhi has said that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the country. The office of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that "our good offices are available if both sides (India and Pakistan) were to request" mediation. The comment was made by acting deputy spokesperson for the Secretary General, Farhan Haq, who is of Pakistani origin.
No role for UN
Haq was responding to a question on whether the UN chief would propose to India to sit down and talk with Pakistan and resolve the longstanding Kashmir issue.
South Block insiders are sticking to India's stated position that there is no role for the UN in the Kashmir issue. In fact, India had gone on record earlier saying that the UN Military Observer Group on India and Pakistan should pack up and leave.
Islamabad has been insisting on a plebiscite in Kashmir, describing it as a nuclear flash point and sees a role for the UN. India maintains that there is a democratically elected government in place in Jammu and Kashmir and it has respected the aspirations of the Kashmiri people through a credible electoral process.
In recent years, India has rejected possibilities of intervention by the UN in settling issues, including Kashmir, with Pakistan. Islamabad, on the other hand, has sought UN intervention and described the UN resolutions on the issue as an "important framework" for settlement of the dispute.
Officials told MAIL TODAY that while Haq may have got carried away in response to a question, Ban, in his own dealing at the highest levels, had acknowledged that the UN had little role to play. The world community has also largely ignored Pakistan's attempts to internationalise the Kashmir issue.
In fact, Ban, in an exclusive interview to this newspaper, had stuck to a safe stand, saying that both countries have maintained channels of communications on the Kashmir issue. He had also said that the composite dialogue could have gone faster than it is. Sources in the India foreign office say that mediation was a non-starter as no Indian government will ever ask the UN to play a role on Kashmir.
Interestingly, this is not the first time Haq has got himself into a controversy on Kashmir. In 2010, Haq was blamed for the remarks concerning the violence in Kashmir. An e-mail containing controversial remarks was sent out by Haq to journalists of three Pakistani publications who had been asking questions about Kashmir since the unrest mounted after June 11, 2010, when a 17-year-old student died after being hit by a teargas shell fired by the police during a demonstration in Srinagar. Following protests by New Delhi, the UN backtracked from the statement and described it as "media guidance".
Pakistan wants world powers to help solve row
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's adviser Sartaj Aziz (in pic) on Friday described Kashmir as the "core issue" of Pakistan's relationship with India, saying it should be "resolved according to the aspirations of Kashmiris and with the intervention of world powers". Aziz, who advises Sharif on foreign affairs and national security, said world powers should come forward and play their role in resolving the issue.
Aziz stated that Pakistan wants good relations with its neighbours to boost the country's economy.
"The government wants trade and not aid, as it believes only in trade. Improving the economy is linked to peace in the region and the government is taking many steps to maintain it," he said.
The remarks came two days after Sharif invited India to engage in a comprehensive, sustained and result-oriented dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue.
- With PTI inputs

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