UN General Assembly head urges restraint on Kashmir issue

Volkan Bozkir says all parties to Jammu and Kashmir dispute must refrain from changing status of disputed territory.

UN General Assembly head urges restraint on Kashmir issue

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) president on Thursday called on the parties involved in the Kashmir dispute to refrain from changing the status of the disputed territory.

Addressing a news conference along with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the capital Islamabad, UNGA President Volkan Bozkir said he encouraged Pakistan and India to resolve the issue through peaceful means.

“As the minister [Pakistan Foreign Minister] mentioned, and also compared to two important things, I think the two problems are of the same age, Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir, and I fully agree that this is the case," Bozkir said while responding to Qureshi who urged the United Nations to play its role for the resolution of the Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir disputes which are on the agenda of the Security Council for over seven decades.

“As president of the General Assembly, I must also reiterate that the United Nations’ position on the Jammu and Kashmir is governed by the United Nations Charter and applicable Security Council resolutions, and Simla Agreement of 1972, which state that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the UN Charter," he added.

He urged all the parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir.

He was referring to the Indian government’s controversial legal changes after Aug. 5, 2019, allowing outsiders to buy non-agricultural land in the disputed region and issue domicile certificates to non-local residents.

Volkan Bozkir arrived on a three-day official visit to Islamabad on Wednesday where he will meet with Pakistani leadership.

Palestine issue

Talking about the Palestinian issue, Bozkir stressed that he should be impartial as the president of UNGA, but added that “impartiality can be defined also and in case of Palestine, I do not think any UNGA president can stay impartial”.

“So, the right definition is to help the people, to solve problems, to be fair and just, and that's I think impartiality,” he said, calling for talks to end the conflict.

“Addressing all the final stages, including the status of Jerusalem and achieving two independent sovereign Bible states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, and mutual recognition within recognized borders on the basis of pre-1967 lines with Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, should be the constitution of the negotiations,” he suggested.

Afghanistan peace talks

The UNGA president praised Pakistan’s role in the ongoing Afghan peace process and said bringing peace to Afghanistan will have good effects on the world.

“I think what Pakistan is doing together with Turkey and Afghanistan is very important. If we don't do it now, then when we come back at a later stage, we will find a different picture which will be more complicated and more difficult to solve it [Afghan issue],” he said.

“So, I think it's timely [efforts], and we appreciate your efforts. We hope that you [Pakistan’s foreign minister] will come with a success story, and everybody of course will applaud that,” he said while referring to Pakistan’s efforts.

On his part, Pakistan’s foreign minister praised the UNGA chief’s role in the current Palestine crisis and said Pakistan expects the UN to continue to play its leadership role for the revival of peace process in the Middle East.

“Oppressed peoples in both the territories [Palestine and Kashmir], faced with the worst form of human rights violations, are demanding their right to self-determination," Qureshi said.

He also reassured his country’s support to the Afghan peace process, saying Pakistan is supportive of the Istanbul process and international conference that should take place at the earliest in Istanbul.