The UNSC decision to take up the issue of Kashmir and initiate a debate on the latest developments there is a major breakthrough for the diplomatic maneuverings that Pakistan had initiated immediately after India changed the constitutional status of the disputed region on August 5.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a letter to the UNSC President, had on Tuesday requested a special meeting to be convened to discuss the Indian actions as well as the ongoing human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. In a tacit reminder of the possible fallout of the Indian actions, Qureshi had conveyed that “Pakistan will not provoke a conflict. But India should not mistake our restraint for weakness. If India chooses to resort again to the use of force, Pakistan will be obliged to respond, in self-defence, with all its capabilities.”
The UNSC may take up the issue today (August 16) under agenda item ‘Pakistan-India question’. Apparently, the decision was taken after China supported Pakistan’s request, suggesting that the issue is discussed behind closed doors. Last Friday, Qureshi had air-dashed to Beijing and had hours-long deliberations with the Chinese leadership seeking their support for Pakistan’s stance. Beijing had already expressed its annoyance over the Indian move to alter the status of Ladakh.
It is not known what position other permanent members of the Security Council, especially the US, will take when the ‘Pakistan-India question’ is taken up for discussion. The Russian representative at the UN said that his country had no objection to the Security Council meeting. But in a conversation with Qureshi, his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, is reported to have “emphasised the need to de-escalate tensions and to have no alternative to resolving differences between Pakistan and India on a bilateral basis by political and diplomatic means.”
Whatever the outcome of today’s meeting, it is indeed a victory for Islamabad to have succeeded in its diplomatic maneuverings for bringing back the Kashmir issue to the Security Council and for making the world realise that it is an international issue with a potential to put the regional and world peace in danger and to lead to a much greater catastrophe.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2019.