UNGA president calls for restraint in Kashmir dispute



UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Volkan Bozkir is urging parties involved in the Kashmir dispute to refrain from steps that affect the territory’s status. 

Addressing a news conference Tuesday at UN Headquarters in New York, he encouraged Pakistan and India to resolve the issue through peaceful means.

“The position of the United Nations on Jammu and Kashmir is governed by the UN Charter and applicable Security Council resolutions. And I also recall India and Pakistan’s Simla Agreement of 1972, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means in accordance with the UN Charter,” said Bozkir.

Recalling his visit to Pakistan last August as president-elect of the UNGA, Bozkir said: “So there again, I mentioned that I call on all parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir.”

He said he supports dialogue and diplomacy.

“This was the message I gave; it will be the same message if a question is asked when I’m in Pakistan,” he added.

Tensions between Pakistan and India escalated after India scrapped the nominal autonomy of disputed Jammu and Kashmir on Aug. 5, 2019 after putting the civilian population under a military siege and cutting communications to quell any rebellion against the move.

Islamabad has termed the action a “unilateral annexation” while New Delhi has insisted that the move was carried out “under its constitution through parliament.”

Many pro-freedom as well as pro-India leaders and activists were jailed ahead of the move, drawing criticism from international quarters including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who voiced opposition to any unilateral move to change the status of the disputed territory.

Bozkir, who leads the 75th session of the UNGA, is scheduled to visit Pakistan and Bangladesh at the end of this month.

“I was invited by the Pakistani government together with the government of Bangladesh, and I’m looking forward to this visit because Pakistan is one of the great contributors to the UN system in peace and security and also providing a lot of personnel to our operations,” he said.

“And from that perspective, I would be happy to visit Pakistan once again. I wanted to also go to India. It was India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. But unfortunately, an unexpected situation came up, and I had to postpone the India part to a later stage.”

Myanmar situation

Bozkir also spoke on the current situation in Myanmar, saying he is completely against military rule.

“Well, personally, I express my views very openly. I am completely against military intervention, which is harming democracy anywhere in the world, and especially in Myanmar. I send out strong messages that I’m completely against military rule,” he said in response to a question.

Bozkir said his office convened a UN General Assembly meeting on Myanmar and on Rohingya Muslims.

“It was, I think, one of the liveliest meetings we’ve had here,” he said.

He said a group of countries have presented a draft for another resolution of the General Assembly concerning Myanmar.


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