India spurns UN chief’s Kashmir mediation offer


India has rejected United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ offer to mediate on the Kashmir issue, saying that it would only discuss the matter bilaterally with Pakistan.Mr Guterres, who is on a four-day visit to Pakistan, had said that he was “ready to help if both countries agree for mediation.” He was speaking to journalists in Islamabad ahead of an Afghan refugee conference hosted by the UNHCR and the Pakistani government in Islamabad.

New Delhi made it clear that the there is no room for third-party mediation.  “The issue of (Jammu and Kashmir) that needs to be addressed is that of vacation of the territories illegally and forcibly occupied by Pakistan. Further issues, if any, would be discussed bilaterally. There is no role or scope for third party mediation,” said Raveesh Kumar, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).He added that India hopes the U.N. chief would “emphasise on the imperative for Pakistan to take credible, sustained and irreversible action to put an end to cross-border terrorism against India”.

Kartarpur visit

The UN secretary-general is also expected to travel to the Kartarpur Gurudwara during his stay. He described the pilgrimage corridor as a “unique experiment in cross-border ties”. Referring to the situation in J&K, Mr Guterres said he was “deeply concerned” and called on India and Pakistan to “de-escalate, both militarily and verbally”.Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his  state visit to Pakistan, had compared the situation in Kashmir with the Gallipoli campaign of World War II. He had termed India’s recent actions in Kashmir as unilateral.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has urged Turkey not to interfere in the country’s internal affairs. “We call upon the Turkish leadership to not interfere in India’s internal affairs and develop a proper understanding of the facts, including the grave threat posed by terrorism emanating from Pakistan to India and the region,” said the spokesperson of MEA.After the Indian government revoked Article 370 that provided the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan, Turkey, and Malaysia have been vocal critics of the decision. The state has been divided into three Union territories to provide better administration to the areas, which had been reeling under unequal development.

Mr Erdogan’s remarks had coincided with the first anniversary of the Pulwama suicide blasts in Jammu and Kashmir in which 40 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed. The attacks were carried out by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).