The UN Security Council held a rare closed-door meeting on Kashmir which was concluded without any outcome or statement from the powerful 15-nation UN organ. Further, an "overwhelming" number of Council members maintained that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan that they need to address themselves, a rebuff to Pakistan and its all-weather ally China to internationalise the issue. However, Pakistani ambassador Maleeha Lodhi sought to claim the discussions as a win.
The “closed consultations" China had requested for in the council on India integrating Kashmir lasted for over an hour. Pakistan had condemned the move and China had expressed strong reservations over the Indian action. Beijing's Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun and Pakistan's UN envoy Maleeha Lodhi made remarks to the media at the UN Security Council one by one. The two left without taking any question from the reporters. The last time Kashmir was on the UNSC agenda was in 1965. Since 1971 Kashmir has not been figured at the UNSC. China, a permanent member with veto, had asked for a meeting in the Council. As per UNSC procedures, Council members can ask to bring up any issue for discussion.
Sources familiar with the consultations said that China was pushing for an outcome or a press statement to be delivered after the consultations by Poland, the President of the Security Council for the month of August. Majority of the 15 members said there should not be any statement or outcome issued after the consultations and their will prevailed, leaving China to come out and make a statement in its national capacity followed by Pakistan. The UK also sided with China in calling for a statement to the press. India's approach was that how can a constitutional matter become a threat to peace and security, as claimed by Pakistan in reference to Article 370. “How does a federal arrangement create an implication for beyond the border," the sources said. Further, India has been repeatedly stressing that it is committed to the Simla Agreement on the issue of Kashmir.
Pakistan’s problems at the council were further compounded with Russia again coming out in support of India saying there was no alternative to resolving differences between Pakistan and India “except bilaterally through political and diplomatic means’’. This was conveyed by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to his Pakistan counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in a telephonic conversation shortly after the latter wrote another letter to the security council in which he sought an emergency meeting. Russia is not just a permanent member of UNSC but will also hold the council’s presidency next month.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin in his remarks to the media said that he will present New Delhi's national position too "if national statements try to masquerade as the will of the international community," a reference to statements by China and Pakistan. Syed added that the UN Security Council had appreciated India’s efforts to restore normalcy announced by Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam. The Indian ambassador, unlike his Chinese and Pakistani counterparts, even took questions from the media, many of them from aggressive Pakistani and other journalists.
Khan dials Trump for support
In a last-ditch attempt by Pakistan to garner support from the US ahead of the meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan had placed a telephone call to US President Donald Trump. According to Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi, Khan took the US President “into confidence" regarding the UNSC meeting. But Pakistan's effort went in vain when a White House readout the conversation that Trump "conveyed the importance of India and Pakistan reducing tensions through bilateral dialogue" regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Trump spoke by telephone with Khan to discuss "the need to reduce tensions and moderate rhetoric with India over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir," the White House said in a readout of the call. During the conversation, Trump "reaffirmed the need to avoid escalation of the situation, and urged restraint" on both sides, the White House said.
Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding Trade, Strategic Partnerships and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations!
In his telephonic conversation with Trump, Modi highlighted the importance of creating an environment free from terror and violence and eschewing cross-border terrorism without exception, a Prime Minister's Office (PMO) release said in New Delhi. "In the context of the regional situation, the prime minister stated that extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace," it said.
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said Trump spoke with Modi to "discuss regional developments" and the US-India strategic partnership. The President conveyed the importance of reducing tensions between India and Pakistan, and maintaining peace in the region, he said. "The two leaders further discussed how they will continue to strengthen United States-India economic ties through increased trade, and they look forward to meeting again soon," Gidley added.
Earlier this month, India abrogated provisions of Article 370 on the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories, evoking strong reactions from Pakistan.
Pakistan observes 'Black Day' on India's I-Day
Pakistan observed 'Black Day' on India's Independence Day to protest New Delhi's move to revoke the special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Protest rallies were taken out in major cities, while black flags were hoisted on roof tops to symbolise the protest. The profile pictures of the Twitter handles of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Office, ISPR Director General, Radio Pakistan and many others were also blacked out in protest.
Pakistan also observed its Independence Day as 'Kashmir Solidarity Day' to protest India's move. Earlier, Khan has questioned the international community's silence on the Kashmir issue and warned that it will have severe "repercussions" in the Muslim world, "setting off radicalisation" and "cycles of violence".