The rare closed-door consultations on Kashmir by the UN Security Council ended without any outcome or statement from the powerful 15-nation UN organ, dealing a huge snub to Pakistan and its all-weather ally China to internationalise the issue, which an overwhelming majority stressed is a bilateral matter between New Delhi and Islamabad.
The informal consultations, requested for by China, lasted over an hour on Friday after which Beijing’s Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun and Pakistan’s UN envoy Maleeha Lodhi made remarks to the media at the UN Security Council stakeout one by one. The two left without taking any question from the reporters.
Sources familiar with the consultations told news agency Press Trust of India that China was pushing for an outcome or a press statement to be delivered after the consultations by Poland, the President of the Security Council for the month of August. The UK also sided with China in calling for a statement to the press.
“Pakistan raising Kashmir at the UN doesn’t have any traction. This time also it did not get any traction at all. There was no outcome, no statement from Poland, as UNSC President, after the consultations,” the sources added.
Majority of the 15 members said there should not be any statement or outcome issued after the consultations and their will prevailed, leaving China to come out and make a statement in its national capacity followed by Pakistan.
Referring to the objections of China and Pakistan, Syed Akbaruddin said, “Since the change is internal to India, it has not made any difference to our external orientation. India remains committed to ensure that the situation there remains calm and peaceful.”
Akbaruddin also said that after the end of the closed consultations “we noted that two states that made national statements tried to pass them off as the will of the international community”.
He said that since some were trying to masquerade national statements as the will of the international community, he was there to explain India’s national position.
Further, an “overwhelming” number of UN Security Council members maintained that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan that they need to address themselves, a rebuff to Islamabad’s intention to internationalise Kashmir, according to sources privy to the internal discussions.
Barring China, the world has accepted India’s position including the Arab world, formerly sponsors and supporters of Pakistan.
Although supporting India’s move on Kashmir, four countries among the P5 nations — Britain, France, Russia and the US — contended that India and Pakistan must address the Kashmir dispute in a bilateral set-up.
Friday’s consultative meeting was called by China, Pakistan’s all-weather ally, on Islamabad’s request to discuss the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources with knowledge of the proceedings said that in its discussions with UNSC members, India was able to break down “piece by piece” each of the arguments. India’s approach was very clear – How can a constitutional matter of a sovereign nation become a threat to peace and security, as claimed by Pakistan in reference to Article 370.
“How does a federal arrangement create an implication for beyond the border,” the sources said. Further, India has been repeatedly stressing that it is committed to the 1972 Simla Agreement on the issue of Kashmir.
On the allegations of “gross violation of human rights”, sources said, “Pakistan lost that battle also because China is talking about human rights.”
Sources familiar with the development also said that if Pakistan feels Article 370 is a material change of a situation, “what is CPEC”, a reference to the so-called ‘China Pakistan Economic Corridor’. “How many material changes have they done?”
Sources said that China could have stopped at the first step of calling the meeting “but by trying to get the Council to react to it they overplayed their hand” and by “pushing their hand, they lost everything.”
African nations in the Council – Cote d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea, Dominican Republic, Germany, US, France and Russia all supported India, sources said.
A UN diplomatic source said that while France was paying close attention to the situation in the region, for it the priority was “bilateral dialogue” between India and Pakistan, a position shared by the US and Germany.
Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy, before heading into the Security Council Consultations Room, told reporters that Moscow “favours a bilateral track between India and Pakistan.”
Indonesia is also concerned but urges both countries to return to dialogue and diplomacy bilaterally.
A UK Government spokesperson said, “Today the UNSC discussed the situation in Kashmir. We continue to follow the situation closely. Events in Kashmir can have regional and international relevance – we continue to urge calm and caution from all.”
Pakistan suffered several setbacks on various fronts in the run-up to the closed consultations. Pakistan had asked for a full-fledged meeting of the Council at which it could speak on New Delhi revoking Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution.
The UNSC has, however, declined to hold a formal session on Kashmir with Pakistan’s participation, and instead scheduled a closed-door consultation.
Closed meetings are not open to the public and no verbatim record of statements is kept. Consultations are informal meetings of the Security Council members and are not covered in the Repertoire.
The Repertoire, mandated by the UN General Assembly, provides comprehensive coverage of the Security Council’s interpretation and application of the UN Charter and its own Provisional Rules of Procedure since 1946.
(With PTI inputs)