Pakistan’s duty to raise Kashmir issue more vigorously at UN, says UNGA president

May 28, 2021 | Kashmir Coverage (General News)

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Volkan Bozkir said on Thursday that it was Pakistan’s duty to bring the issue of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute to the United Nations platform with more vigour.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad along with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi after their meeting today, the UNGA president lamented what he said was a lack of large political will for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute compared to the Palestinian issue which had more will behind it.

“I think it is the duty, especially Pakistan’s, to bring this [issue] to the United Nation platform more strongly,” said Bozkir, adding that he agreed that the Palestinian issue and the Kashmir issue were of the same age.

He called on all parties to refrain from changing the status of Jammu and Kashmir and said a solution was to be found through peaceful means in accordance with the UN charter and UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions as agreed in the Simla Agreement between Pakistan and India.

Addressing the press conference, FM Qureshi said that he had briefed the president on the “dire situation” in Indian-occupied Kashmir and drawn his attention to the similarities between the Palestinian and Kashmir issues. He highlighted the common demands of the people and said both issues had been UNSC agenda items for decades.

“Pay attention. These are international obligations. The UN must play that role of responsibility which is due,” stressed the foreign minister.

“The Kashmir dispute is a reality and no one can deny it or remove it from the UNSC agenda.”

Speaking about other topics discussed in the meeting, Qureshi said he had also briefed Bozkir on the evolving situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s role in its peace process. The president, for his part, said that many countries thought they were important but “some are more important.”

He said the solution to the Afghan issue would have regional and global effects therefore “I think what Pakistan is doing together with Turkey and Afghanistan is very important,” adding that it was necessary to take the opportunity and “appreciate your efforts and hope that you will come with a success story”.

Bozkir also praised Prime Minister Imran Khan and his efforts, particularly the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami initiative, giving voice to the difficulties being faced by countries by debt issues and Pakistan’s performance in dealing with Covid-19, which he said was “remarkable” and comparatively much better than other countries. He also hailed FM Qureshi’s leadership on the Palestinian issue as important and said he had represented Pakistan in the world “in a very good way”.

FM Qureshi in turn thanked the UNGA president for his visit and said: “We always look forward to your coming to Pakistan, you are a friend of Pakistan and in our humble way […] we will be acknowledging that and recognising your services.” 

Meeting with PM Imran

Later in the day, Bozkir met Prime Minister Imran and the two held discussions on regional and international peace and security, sustainable development and economic recovery efforts in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office, the premier and UNGA president exchanged thoughts on Palestine, the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Afghan peace process, and illicit financial flows from proceeds of crime, corruption and bribery. 

The prime minister appreciated Bozkir’s role in convening the special session of the UNGA on the situation in Palestine, emphasising the need for a “just and lasting solution in line with relevant UN resolutions and two-state vision”.

Prime Minister Imran also underlined Pakistan’s “strong commitment to multilateralism with the UN playing a central role”. He highlighted the need for increased international cooperation to deal with climate change and environmental degradation, and debt relief for developing countries as they dealt with the economic effects of the pandemic.

For his part, Bozkir informed the prime minister about various initiatives the UNGA had taken during his presidency to address key international political and socioeconomic issues.

Meeting with foreign minister

Bozkir, who arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday, met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Foreign Office (FO) earlier today.

The situation in Palestine and occupied Kashmir, the Afghan peace process and matters of mutual interest were discussed during the meeting. 

Welcoming Bozkir to the FO, FM Qureshi appreciated the UNGA president’s efforts in summoning an emergency session of the assembly over the Palestine issue. “The ceasefire was the first step towards halting Israeli atrocities against Palestinians, and there was success on this front,” he said. 

The foreign minister also stressed the need to resolve the Palestine and Kashmir issues according to the UN Security Council resolutions.

“Peace in the Middle East will remain elusive without a permanent resolution to the Palestine issue,” he said. In the same way, peace can’t be established in South Asia without resolving the Kashmir issue, he added. 

Commenting on the Afghan peace process, Qureshi said that Pakistan’s role as a mediator had been recognised at an international level.

He also appreciated the UNGA president’s ‘Vaccine for All’ initiative and said that getting immunised was necessary to defeat the virus.

According to FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudri, Bozkir reiterated the “UN position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is governed by the UN Charter and relevant UNSC resolutions, calling for a ‘free and impartial’ plebiscite under the UN auspices.”

The UNGA president also visited the National Defence University Pakistan and gave a speech on the importance of multilateralism.

Speaking at the university, Bozkir commended the government’s measures for social support during the Covid-19 pandemic and its strategy to tackle the pandemic, saying they had produced positive results.

He said the disbursement of emergency cash assistance prior to and during the pandemic to the most vulnerable citizens demonstrated how “developing countries can leapfrog into the digital era to support financial inclusion”.

The UNGA president also commended Prime Minister Imran Khan for highlighting the importance of illicit financial flows and praised the “professionalism and dedication” of the Pakistani military and law enforcement agencies serving in the UN’s peacekeeping operations

In a press release issued yesterday, the FO had said that Bozkir’s visit would lend an opportunity to showcase Pakistan’s active contributions to multilateralism and the central role of the UN in international affairs.

It had added that “Pakistan remains committed to supporting the United Nations General Assembly for the realisation of shared objectives of maintaining international peace and security; economic and social development; promotion and protection of human rights; peaceful settlement of international disputes; and developing friendly relations among nations based on the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, as enshrined in the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.”

Bozkir, who is the first Turkish national to preside over the UNGA, had also visited Pakistan in August 2020, before assuming the role of the UNGA head. He is a former diplomat and a senior politician.

Following his 39-year-long diplomatic career in the Turkish foreign service, Bozkir was elected thrice as a member of the Turkish parliament and has served as the chairperson of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee and minister for European Union Affairs.


Author: Naveed Siddiqui
Publication: Dawn