Turkish UNGA President-elect wants resolution of Kashmir issue

UNGA President-elect visits Pakistan, to better understand the dynamics between Pakistan and India on the disputed Kashmir region.

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The festering Kashmir dispute between nuclear neighbors Indian and Pakistan needs to be resolved for sustainable peace in South Asia, said the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) president-elect on Monday.

The long-smoldering issue should be resolved through “peaceful means,” Volkan Bozkir told a joint press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan with Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the country’s foreign minister.

Volkan Bozkir: UNGA President-elect wants Kashmir issue resolved 

Bozkir, a former Turkish diplomat, who is set to take the General Assembly helm on Sept. 15, arrived in Islamabad on Sunday evening on a two-day maiden visit.

Apart from the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir, he observed, there is the 1972 Simla Agreement between Islamabad and New Delhi which called for resolving the dispute through political and diplomatic channels and in line with the will of Kashmiris, state-run Pakistan Television reported.

Read more: India’s allies must compel it to restore Statehood of Occupied Kashmir: report

Asked about an improved role for the UN Military Observers Mission, which has been supervising the cease-fire between India and Pakistan in the disputed region since 1949, Bozkir said he would consult with the secretary general and other UN officials once he takes office.

“Turkey’s stand on Kashmir is well-known to the world. It has been explained time and again,” he said.

“As a Turkish citizen, my hands are big for Pakistan, but as a UNGA president, I have to follow certain procedures and maintain impartiality.”

UNGA President-elect visits Pakistan to understand Kashmir dynamics

The president-elect of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) met with Pakistan‘s premier in Islamabad on Monday to discuss a variety of regional, and international issues, including the lingering Kashmir dispute.

Volkan Bozkir, a former Turkish diplomat, who will assume the office as UNGA President on Sept. 15, arrived in Islamabad on Sunday evening for a two-day maiden visit.

Facilitating Bozkir on his election, Pakistan’s premier Imran Khan apprised him of the current situation in disputed Jammu and Kashmir, an issue that was on agenda of the UN Security Council for over seven decades, said a statement from the Prime Minister Office.

Read more: Kashmir: the death nail of ‘Incredible India’?

“The Prime Minister highlighted the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in IIOJK [Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir] since Aug. 5 2019, as well as the ongoing gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Kashmiri people and the attempts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory,” the statement said referring to New Delhi’s controversial scrapping of the disputed region’s semi-autonomous status last year.

One of the main objectives of this visit, he went on to say, is to understand the latest situation in disputed Jammu and Kashmir, so that “when the issue comes” to the General Assembly, they can discuss it accordingly.

Foreign Minister Qureshi, for his part, accused India of changing the demography of Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir through a slew of actions, mainly by its revocation one year ago of the disputed valley’s decades-long special status.

He urged the UN and the international community to pressure India to end the “military siege” and communications blockade in the Himalayan valley imposed since Aug. 5 of last year and to release the pro-freedom leaders and political activists.

Bozkir impressed by Pakistan’s success against COVID

Bozkir hailed Pakistan‘s policies fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, calling them “successful.”

Pakistan has been a good example for the world in the fight against the pandemic. Figures show that Pakistan has done better than any other country in the world in this regard,” he said.

Pakistan is one of a handful of countries where coronavirus cases have dropped significantly over the last month. Currently, the country has only slightly over 17,000 active COVID-19 cases.

Read more: China Defended International Law By Condemning India On Kashmir

The raging pandemic has had serious economic, social, and political, repercussions across the world, he said, and the UN should play an active role in facing these challenges.

“The UN should start functioning normally, adopting all safety precautions. The world should know that the UN is alive, otherwise we will start losing people’s interest,” he said.

The General Assembly, he added, should hold its yearly session in September in New York physically, with no restrictions on the participation of world leaders.

“We will evaluate the situation in September before making a final decision on that,” he added.

Pakistan PM wants UN to take lead role on Kashmir

Khan, it added, stressed the UN must play its rightful role in addressing the “grave situation and ensuring that Kashmiris exercise their right to self-determination promised to them in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.”

The two also discussed ways to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on saving lives, securing livelihoods, and stimulating the economy.

Read more: Kashmir, Gurdaspur & Mountbatten?

Khan also highlighted his call for Global Initiative on Debt Relief and stressed the need to provide greater fiscal space to the developing countries to overcome deleterious socio-economic impacts of coronavirus pandemic.

He expressed hope that the 75th Session of the UNGA would accord priority to these issues, which affected billions around the world, the statement concluded.

Later, addressing a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Bozkir said he had a “fruitful” meeting with Khan.

“I am impressed by his [Khan’s] vision on regional, and international issues,” he added.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk