By Yoshita Singh
(Eds: Updating with more details)
United Nations, Sep 11 (PTI) UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has appealed to both India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue to avoid any "potential escalation" as the two countries clashed at the UNHRC over New Delhi revoking Jammu and Kashmir's special status.
At the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, India defended its "sovereign decision" to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special status, which Pakistan said was an illegal act and demanded an international investigation by the global rights body.
Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry Vijay Thakur Singh asserted that the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status was India's sovereign decision and it cannot accept any interference in the country's internal affairs.
She also hit out at Pakistan's "malicious" campaign on the Kashmir issue and condemned "state sponsored terrorism."
UN Secretary General's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, at a daily press briefing here on Tuesday, said that Guterres had spoken to the leaders of both India and Pakistan.
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 said.
On Monday, Guterres also met with the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN Maleeha Lodhi on her request over the Kashmir issue.
“His 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,” Dujarric said.
Dujarric was responding to a question on whether Guterres plans to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir during the UN General Assembly session later this month which would be attended by both Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“You know, the position… our position on mediation has, as a matter of principle, has always remained the same,” Dujarric said.
The UN chief has maintained that his good offices are available only if both sides ask for it. However, India has made it clear to the international community that the Kashmir issue is an internal matter and there is no need for a third-party mediation.
“And, as was said by the High Commissioner for Human Rights recently, the situation in Kashmir can only be solved with the full respect of human rights,” Dujarric said.
Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic relations with India and expelled the Indian high commissioner following the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.
Exercising its right to respond to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's statement at the UNHRC, First Secretary in the MEA Vimarsh Aryan said Article 370 was a temporary provision of the Indian Constitution.
"We are not surprised at Pakistan's hysterical statements with false narratives aimed to politicise and polarise this forum. Pakistan realises that our decision cuts away ground from under its feet by creating obstacles in its continuing sponsorship of cross-border terrorism," he said.
Earlier at the session, Qureshi demanded an international investigation by the UNHRC into the situation in Kashmir and urged the world rights body not to remain "indifferent" after India revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status. PTI YAS RS AKJ RS