‘Can help with Kashmir dispute if India, Pakistan agree,’ says UN General Assembly president-elect
United Nations General Assembly’s president-elect Volkan Bozkir on Monday said he is willing to help Pakistan and India resolve their differences over Kashmir, if requested by both parties, PTI reported. “If my assistance is requested by the parties, I will be ready to provide contributions within my mandate,” he said during a two-day visit to Pakistan.
The Turkish diplomat, who was elected president of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly in May, arrived in Islamabad on Sunday. He was supposed to visit Pakistan on July 26, but the trip was postponed because of “some technical flight problems”.
At a press conference with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Bozkir said ending the Kashmir dispute between the two nuclear-armed neighbours was needed for sustainable peace in South Asia. This, he said, should be done peacefully through “meaningful mutual agreements”.
The diplomat also referred to the resolutions adopted by the United Nations that allowed for Kashmiris to decide whether they want to merge with India, with Pakistan or whether they prefer independence, Anadolu news agency reported. Besides this, he said the 1972 Simla Agreement between Islamabad and New Delhi also called for resolving the dispute through political and diplomatic channels.
When asked about Turkey’s position on the matter, the diplomat said: “Turkey’s stand on Kashmir is well-known to the world. It has been explained time and again.” Bozkir added that as a Turkish citizen, “my hands are big for Pakistan”, but as UNGA president, “I have to follow certain procedures and maintain impartiality”.
On August 6, Turkey had claimed that India’s move to rescind the region’s special status had not “contributed to the peace and stability in the region”. However, India criticised Turkey’s remarks and described them as “factually incorrect, biased and unwarranted”.
New Delhi’s long-held position has been that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and there is no question of any mediation or intervention by any third party. But Pakistan wants the UN to play a role in resolving the issue.
Last week, the United Nations Security Council discussed Kashmir at Pakistan’s request for the third time since the Centre decided to end the Jammu and Kashmir’s semi-autonomy a year ago. The Security Council did not take any action or issue a statement after the virtual meeting behind closed doors.
After the meeting, Indian diplomat TS Tirumurti said Pakistan’s attempt to internationalise the Kashmir dispute had once again “come to naught”. However, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the meeting was a mark of solidarity of the international community with the people of “Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir subjected to a savage military siege”.