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09/08/2019 9:22 AM IST | Updated 09/08/2019 9:24 AM IST

UN Warns Restrictions In Kashmir Could Worsen Human Rights Situation, Refers To Simla Agreement

The Secretary General called on all parties to “refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir.”

TAUSEEF MUSTAFA via Getty Images
A security personnel checks the bag of a Kashmiri man during a curfew in Srinagar on August 8, 2019.
 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called on India and Pakistan to refrain from any steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Guterres was “concerned over reports of restrictions on Indian-side of Kashmir,” and warned that such actions could “exacerbate the human rights situation in region,” Guterres’ spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement.

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“The position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions.The Secretary-General also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Simla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nation,” the statement added.

The Secretary General called on all parties to “refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Danish Ismail / Reuters
A man walks with a herd of sheep in a deserted road during restrictions in Srinagar August 8, 2019.

 

US says no policy change on Kashmir

The United States on Friday said that there is no change in its policy on Kashmir and called onIndia and Pakistan to maintain calm and restraint.

“No”, replied State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus when asked by reporters if there has been any change in America’s policy on Kashmir.

The US policy has been that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and it is up to the two countries to decide on the pace and scope of the talks on the issue.

“And if there was, I certainly wouldn’t be announcing it here, but no, there’s not,” Ortagus said in response to a follow up question.

She said the United States supports dialogue between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

“It’s something that we’ve called for calm and restraint by all parties. We want to main peace and stability, and we, of course, support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern,” the US State Department spokesperson said.

Ortagus said the US was working closely with the two countries.

“We have a lot of engagement with India and Pakistan. Obviously, we just had Prime Minister Khan here, not just because of Kashmir. That’s certainly an incredibly important issue and something that we follow closely. But we have a host of issues that we work with India on quite closely and that we work with Pakistan on quite closely,” she said.

Responding to a question on Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir, Ortagus said, “I really don’t want to go beyond what we’ve said, because it’s such a tenuous issue. It’s something that we’re talking to them about quite closely.” 

“The United States, whenever it comes to any region in the world where there are tensions, asks for people to observe the rule of law, respect for human rights, respect for international norms. We ask people to maintain peace and security and direct dialogue,” she said.

The State Department spokesperson said the US was closely monitoring the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

“There are reports, as you’ve mentioned, of detentions and restrictions of residents in Jammu and in Kashmir. And again, that’s why we continue to monitor this very, very closely,” she said. 

Ortagus reiterated earlier statements that the US was not consulted and informed by India about its decision on scrapping articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution.

After Acting Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells, another senior US diplomat is heading to India.

The visit was pre-scheduled but it would be used to discuss the current issues, Ortagus said. She said Sullivan will travel to New Delhi to advance the “broad and multifaceted” US-India Strategic Partnership, which is based on a shared commitment to democratic values, economic growth and rule of law. 

“There, the deputy secretary will meet Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar and address the India-US Forum,” Ortagus said.

(With inputs from PTI)