India, Pak Clash At UNGA Over Kashmir

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Srinagar – The dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir yet again echoed in the United Nations General Assembly with the Pakistani deputy permanent representative, Raza Bashir Tarar, reiterating his country’s stand that Jammu and Kashmir had never been a part of India.

The fresh war of words at the UN body was sparked by the speeches made by Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, and the Indian external affairs minister, S M Krishna, with both repeating their respective viewpoints over their dispute over the Himalayan region.

Responding to the remarks, the Indian representative, Vinay Kumar, accused Pakistan of having violated India’s territorial integrity and international laws to illegally occupy parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

In his speech last week, Zardari had said that Kashmir remained “a symbol of the failures of the United Nations system rather than its strengths.” He said a solution could only be reached in an “environment of cooperation.”

“We will continue to support the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to peacefully choose their destiny in accordance with the UN Security Council’s long-standing resolutions on this matter,” he added.

As the annual UNGA meeting wound down Monday night, representatives of both the South Asian countries traded several rounds of charges and counter-charges. The Pakistani delegation was seen smiling and shaking their heads as an Indian diplomat issued yet another reply to a statement by Pakistan.

Exercising Pakistan’s right of reply, Tarar maintained that Zardari’s reference to Kashmir in his speech seeking settlement of the issue in accordance with UN resolutions was “not unwarranted,” as claimed by the Indian external affairs minister.

Tarar said Kashmir was a festering dispute between India and Pakistan as its future was yet to be determined on the basis of the UN resolutions to which both the countries were signatories. That the UN resolutions still awaited implementation is a proof of Kashmir being a disputed territory between India and Pakistan, he said.

In his address to the 193-member General Assembly on Monday, Krishna said “an unwarranted” reference to Jammu and Kashmir was made from the UN podium. “We wish to make it abundantly clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.”

“The people of Jammu and Kashmir have chosen and reaffirmed their destiny repeatedly through India’s well established democratic processes,” he said.

Krishna said the people of Jammu and Kashmir had already chosen their destiny. “We have embarked on a resumed dialogue process with Pakistan and advocate a step-by-step approach to normalizing our bilateral relations,” he said.

“I did not expect that president Zardari would make a reference to Kashmir and once a reference from Pakistan at the highest level in the UN is made, then it is certainly the responsibility of India to state its stated position,” Krishna told reporters.

On Tuesday, he said his UNGA remark on Kashmir should be read in the right sequence. “Read this in the sequence in which it emerges,” he said, adding he had to respond to Zardari’s speech.

Krishna said nothing more needed to be read to the statements on the issue either from him or from Zardari. Asked if raising the Kashmir issue at international forums could be an irritant to the efforts being made by the two countries to normalize their ties, he said, “We will continue our dialogue with Pakistan and the roadmap has been drawn and we will try to stick to the road map and let us see how it goes.”

Reports said Kashmiris staged a peaceful anti-India and pro-movement protest demonstration outside the UN headquarters in New York during the Indian external affairs minister’s speech. It was led by president of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Sardar Muhammad Yaqub Khan. (Observer Monitoring Desk)

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