Nudged by China, UNSC to discuss Pak plea on J&K

Nudged by China, Security Council to hold closed-door consultation on Pakistan’s plea to discuss India’s moves on J&K

Security personnel block a road to the venue of a ceremony to celebrate India's 73rd Independence Day, which marks the end of British colonial rule, in Srinagar on August 15, 2019. (Photo AFP)

China has nudged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to schedule a closed-door consultation on Friday to discuss Pakistan’s plea to bring the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) back on the Horse-Shoe Table in the wake of recent moves by India.

The Security Council is set to hold the closed-door consultation at the headquarters of the United Nations at 7-30 p.m. Indian Standard Time (10 a.m. New York time) on Friday. If the consultation leads to the Security Council accepting Pakistan’s plea for an emergency session to discuss India’s recent moves on J&K, it will mark the return of the issue on the agenda of the most powerful organ of the United Nations after almost five decades. 

The UNSC has not discussed the issue of Kashmir since India and Pakistan in 1972 signed the Simla Agreement. India has been maintaining that the pact left no scope for the UN or any other third party to play any role in resolving its bilateral disputes with Pakistan, including the issue of Kashmir.

China sought a closed-door informal meeting of the UNSC after its “all-weather ally” Pakistan asked for a discussion in the council on India’s decision to strip J&K of its “special status” and to reorganize the state into two Union Territories.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, on Tuesday wrote to Poland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Joanna Wronecka, who holds the presidency of the Security Council on behalf of the Polish Government this month.

Qureshi argued in his letter to Wronecka that the UNSC should hold an emergency session as New Delhi’s recent “unilateral” and “illegal” moves had violated the Security Council’s resolutions on Kashmir. He also argued that the UNSC should hold the discussion under its agenda item “India-Pakistan question” and the representative of Pakistan Government should be allowed to participate in the meeting.

China, one of the five permanent members of the UNSC, stepped in on Wednesday and asked for a closed-door meeting of the council to hold a consultation on the letter from Pakistan. The Geo News of Pakistan quoted UNSC president saying at the UN headquarters in New York that the council would “discuss the Jammu and Kashmir situation behind closed doors, most likely on August 16”. Qureshi, himself, was quoted saying in Islamabad that the UNSC agreeing to hold a consultation on J&K was a “diplomatic success” of Pakistan. 

Sources in New Delhi, however, said that the UNSC had just agreed to hold the consultation on the letter from Foreign Minister of Pakistan.

Only if the closed-door consultation leads to the UNSC agreeing to discuss New Delhi’s moves on J&K, the issue would return to the agenda of the council, sources told the DH on Thursday.  

Beijing last week joined Islamabad to strongly oppose New Delhi’s moves on J&K – not only to express solidarity with Pakistan but also out of concern over implications of the decisions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on India-China boundary dispute. China even echoed Pakistan to stress that the dispute over J&K should be “properly and peacefully resolved” based on the UN charter, relevant UNSC resolutions and bilateral agreements.

India has been reaching out to all the five permanent members – United States, Russia, China, France and United Kingdom – as well as 10 other non-permanent members of the UNSC ever since Modi Government made public its decisions on J&K. The US played a balancing act between India and Pakistan. The UK too remained ambivalent. Russia, however, unequivocally endorsed India’s argument that its decisions on J&K were its “internal” affairs. India is also relying on support from France. Sources in New Delhi said that India had reached out to all Poland and nine other non-permanent members of the UNSC too and sought support to resist attempts by Pakistan and China to bring back the issue of J&K back on the Horse Shoe Table.

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