Pakistani envoy meets top UN leaders, calls for de-escalation and Kashmir solution

New York, 20 February, 2019

Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi, Tuesday briefed top UN leaders about the escalating India-Pakistan tensions following last week's Pulwama incident in Indian occupied Kashmir, saying that the "dangerous" situation in the region called for stepping up efforts to settle the decades-old Kashmir dispute.

"I told them that the Pulwama incident reinforces the need to address the root cause of violence in occupied Jammu and Kashmir and to find a peaceful solution to the longstanding dispute in accordance with several UN Security Council resolutions," she told APP after separate meetings with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council President, Anatolio Ndong Mba of Equatorial Guinea.

"I reaffirmed Pakistan’s readiness to a constructive and meaningful dialogue with India over all issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir, as stated by Prime Minister Imran Khan this morning, and explained that the India’s no-talk posture is not only irresponsible, but it puts at stake, the peace and security of all of South Asia," Ambassador Lodhi said at UN Headquarters in New York.

India blamed Pakistan after Thursday's incident in which a youthful Kashmiri activist blew himself up near an Indian paramilitary convoy in Pulwama, killing at least 40 soldiers.

During Tuesday's meetings, the Pakistani envoy said she categorically rejected all Indian allegations over the incident. "I regretted that the knee-jerk Indian reaction was an all too familiar attempt to blame Pakistan without any credible investigation to determine facts.

"I stressed that the international community should not lose sight of the fact that the tragedy of Kashmir is the consequence of systematic denial of their fundamental rights, brutal use of force, and widespread alienation and marginalization of the people of Jammu and Kashmir," she said, pointing out that the 2018 report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights amply documented the Indian atrocities.

"Indian brutality and oppression have been met with an intensification of the indigenous Kashmiri struggle against Indian occupation," she told the UN chief and the President of the 15-member Council.

"For the Kashmiri people, every victim is not just another statistic – it is a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, a friend or a ward; with every fallen martyr, a part of them is also slain," Ambassador Lodhi told them.

During the last year alone, she said, over 500 innocent Kashmiris were martyred, making it one of the deadliest years for the Kashmiri struggle against the Indian occupation.

Ambassador Lodhi said she also expressed deep concern over "incendiary and jingoistic" statements from prominent Indian leaders threatening Pakistan.

"I underscored that as a responsible state, Pakistan will continue to exercise calm and restraint but our patience should not be tested. As Prime Minister Imran Khan said today, any Indian misadventure will invite retaliation from Pakistan."

She also pointed to the risk that an escalation on Pakistan’s eastern front could undermine efforts underway for a peaceful settlement of the Afghan conflict.

"I also informed both the Secretary General and the President of the Security Council that Prime Minister Imran Khan had offered an investigation into the Pulwama incident should India provide any actionable intelligence.

"I requested the Secretary General to play his part in diffusing a potentially dangerous and help de-escalate tensions that could spiral out of control," she said.

Pakistan, she said, was committed and remain ready for constructive and meaningful dialogue with India to address all outstanding issues including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. "This is essential for lasting peace in our region."

On his part, the Pakistani envoy said that the UN secretary-general said he was closely following the developments, saying these were “troubled times” for the region.

Guterres said he had read Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's letter and was aware of Prime Minister Imran Khan's address to the nation. The UN chief, according to her, said that he had offered his good offices to help defuse the current tensions, and would continue to do so in future.

The Security Council president, Ambassador Lodhi said also underscored his desire for peace and stability in the region. She said she requested him to informally brief other Security Council members about the points made by her.