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Pak fails to garner support at UNSC informal meet on Kashmir

Security Council urges India-Pak to resolve issue bilaterally

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 16: Pakistan was humiliated at the UNSC on Friday when it failed to get support from any other member except China that had sought informal closed door meeting on Kashmir. After one hour consultations, the Council voiced support for India and Pakistan to settle the dispute through peaceful manner, including through direct dialogue, based on related bilateral agreements in accordance with UN Charter.

Speaking to newsmen, India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said “India’s position was and remains that matter related to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is entirely an internal matter of India.”

Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said “The recent decisions are intended to ensure that good governance is promoted, socie-economic development is enhanced for our people...We are committed to gradually removing all restrictions. Since the change is internal to India, it has not made any difference to our external orientation. India remains committed (to ensure) that the situation there remains calm and peaceful. We are committed to all the agreements that we've signed on this issue.”

He said "We note that there were some who tried to project an alarmist approach to the situation which is far from the ground realities. Of particular concern is that one state is using terminology of 'jihad' against and promoting violence in India including by their leaders. Violence is no solution to the problems we face. We are in consistent in all our positions that all issues will be resolved bilaterally and peacefully... We stand ready to continue our efforts towards peaceful resolution of all issues in an atmosphere free of violence."

When asked by a Pakistani journalist as to when the dialogue would begin, Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin in his unique style said “so let me start by coming across to you and shake hands.” He then shook hands with all the three journalists. His gesture signified that India was always ready for a bilateral dialogue, provided Pakistan stops exporting terrorism.

While India’s Permanent Representative took first three questions from Pakistani journalists, the Pakistani and Chinese diplomats refused to take any questions.
On the Chinese and Pakistani envoys’ remarks after the UNSC meeting, Akbaruddin said: “For the first time after the end of Security Council consultations, we noted that two states (China and Pakistan) who made national statements tried to pass them off as the will of the international community.”

It may be mentioned here that the closed door consultations of the UN Security Council do not have any formal pronouncements. Therefore, it did not take any action during the closed consultations.

India and Pakistan did not attend the meeting as it is open only to the five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members.

But it may be mentioned that it was a rare meeting on Kashmir as it held for the first time after over five decades.

Pakistan’s UN ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told reporters after the council’s consultations, that “this is the first and not the last step”.

She said her country had managed to raise the voice of the Kashmiri people at the Security Council. “The fact that this meeting took place is testimony to the fact that this is an internationally recognised dispute,” she said. “We stand ready for a peaceful settlement of the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir.”

After the UNSC meeting, the Chinese envoy said, “The security general made a statement to refrain from taking unilateral action which is dangerous. Issue should be resolved in accordance with UN Charter.” He also said that China is deeply concerned about the situation.

At the outset, the members of the Security Council were briefed by Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Taranco and Lieutenant General Carlos Loitey on the situation of Jammu and Kashmir and the work of United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan.
The members of the Security Council urged the parties to refrain from actions that would exacerbate tensions in the region. The members also reaffirmed relevant Council resolutions on the issue.

The members called on India and Pakistan to avoid actions that would escalate the situation along the Line of Control. The members also agreed to follow the situation closely.

Nudged by China, UNSC may hold closed door session on Kashmir on Friday

NEW YORK, Aug 15: China, an all-weather ally of Pakistan, has asked for “closed consultations” in the UN Security Council to discuss India revoking the special status to Jammu and Kashmir after Islamabad wrote a letter seeking a meeting, according to a top UN diplomat.

The diplomat said on condition of anonymity that a request for such a meeting was submitted very recently, and could take place as early as Friday.

“China asked for closed consultations on the Security Council agenda item ‘India Pakistan Question’. The request was in reference to the Pakistani letter to Security Council President,” the diplomat said.

The diplomat said Poland, president of the council for August, has to consult and take into account preferences of other Council members before deciding on time and date for the meeting.

The official said that so far no final decision on the time of the meeting had been made and Friday morning is the “earliest realistic option” for the meeting.

However, Geo News quoted UNSC President Joanna Wronecka as saying that “the UNSC will discuss the Jammu and Kashmir situation behind closed doors most likely on August 16.” When asked about the timing of the meeting, Wronecka said, “Most probably on Friday as the Security Council would not operate on Thursday”, the report said.

India has categorically told the international community that its move to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution removing the special status to Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter and has also advised Pakistan to “accept the reality”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged India and Pakistan to exercise “maximum restraint” and refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir. He had highlighted the Simla Agreement which rejects any third-party mediation on the issue.

Pakistan formally called for an emergency meeting of the UNSC to discuss India revoking the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Thursday.

Qureshi said that a discussion on the Kashmir issue in the UNSC after four decades will be a landmark diplomatic achievement, Pakistani media reported.

“The world needs to realise that it is the issue of humanity and not a piece of land between the two countries,” the state-run PTV quoted Qureshi as saying.

Qureshi sent a formal letter to Wronecka through country’s Permanent Representative Maleha Lodhi to convene the meeting. Qureshi said the letter will also be shared with all members of the UNSC.

Last Friday, Qureshi had air-dashed to Beijing for urgent consultations with the Chinese leadership on the issue of raising the Kashmir issue at the UNSC.

After his return to Pakistan, he had said Beijing fully supported Islamabad in approaching the UNSC.

“China has directed its representative in New York to keep close liaison with Pakistani diplomats on the issue,” Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad last week.

He said China and Pakistan had also nominated their focal persons at Director General level for the purpose.

China wants the resolution of the issue according to the UN Resolutions, he added.

During his bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday in Beijing, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar conveyed that India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter for India.

He said the issue related to changes in a temporary provision of the Constitution of India and was the sole prerogative of the country.

Jaishankar noted that the legislative measures were aimed at promoting better governance and socio-economic development and there was no implication for either the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

“India was not raising any additional territorial claims. The Chinese concerns in this regard were therefore misplaced,” he said.

Jaishankar emphasised to Wang that these changes had no bearing on Pakistan as it was an internal matter.

“It did not impact the LoC. Where India Pakistan relations are concerned, Chinese side should base its assessment on realities. India, as a responsible power, had shown restraint in face of provocative Pakistani rhetoric and actions. India has always stood for normalisation of the ties in an atmosphere free of terror,” the minister said.

Day after Pak letter, China for ‘closed consultations’ on Kashmir at UNSC

NEW YORK, Aug 14: China has formally asked for “closed consultations” in the UN Security Councilto discuss India revoking the special status to Jammu and Kashmir after Pakistan, Beijing’s closest ally, wrote a letter on the issue to Poland, the Council President for the month of August, a top diplomat here said.

The UN diplomat said that a request for such a meeting was submitted very recently, but no date has yet been scheduled for it.

“China asked for closed consultations on the Security Council agenda item ‘India Pakistan Question’. The request was in reference to the Pakistani letter to Security Council President,” the diplomat said.

Pakistan formally called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss India revoking the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently said.

The diplomat said that China also submitted a formal request for such a meeting but Poland has to consult and take into account preferences of other Council members before deciding on time and date for the meeting.

The official said that so far no final decision on the time of the meeting had been made and Friday morning is the “earliest realistic option” for the meeting.

Qureshi has sent a formal letter to the president of the Security Council, Polish Ambassador Joanna Wronecka, through country’s Permanent Representative Maleha Lodhi to convene the meeting. Qureshi said the letter will also be shared with all members of the UNSC.

Qureshi had said he sent a formal letter to the president of the UNSC through Permanent Representative Lodhi to convene the meeting.

“I have requested in the letter that a special meeting of the Security Council should be called to discuss those actions of India which we consider as illegal and against the UN resolutions,” he said.

Qureshi had air-dashed to Beijing for consultation with the Chinese leadership on the issue of raising the Kashmir issue at the UNSC.

He had also said that China backed Pakistan on the issue and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang told him he believed “China will stand up for justice on the Kashmir issue”.

During his bilateral meeting with China’s foreign minister Wang Yi on Monday in Beijing, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar conveyed that the decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter for India.

He said the issue related to changes in a temporary provision of the Constitution of India and was the sole prerogative of the country.

Jaishankar noted that the legislative measures were aimed at promoting better governance and socio-economic development and there was no implication for either the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

“India was not raising any additional territorial claims. The Chinese concerns in this regard were therefore misplaced,” he said.

Jaishankar told Wang that these changes had no bearing on Pakistan as it was an internal matter.

“It did not impact the LoC. Where India Pakistan relations are concerned, Chinese side should base its assessment on realities. India, as a responsible power, had shown restraint in face of provocative Pakistani rhetoric and actions. India has always stood for normalisation of the ties in an atmosphere free of terror,” he said.

After India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) special status on August 5 and announced the bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, Pakistan announced that it will approach the UN Security Council against New Delhi’s decision.

India has categorically told the international community that its move to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution removing the special status to Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter and has also advised Pakistan to “accept the reality”.

UN General Assembly President condoles loss of lives due to floods in India

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 14: President of the 73rd session of UN General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa has expressed solidarity with India over floods wreaking havoc in southern and western parts of the country.

Espinosa’s spokesperson Monica Grayley said she has “sent her condolences to the people and the Government of India after the monsoon floods in the southern and western parts of the country, which led to over 140 deaths, and hundreds of thousands of people being evacuated.” She said the president of the UN General Assembly expressed her solidarity to all of those who were affected by the natural disaster.

Floods in southern Indian states of Kerala and Karnataka, and western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat have so far claimed 225 lives and lakhs of people had to be moved to safety. Kerala alone accounted for 91 of these deaths.

Over the weekend, the President of the UN General Assembly tweeted to express sorrow over the loss of lives and devastation caused by Typhoon Lekima in China that hit Zhejiang province early on Saturday morning. Over a million people had to be evacuated in the province.

She tweeted that the international community is ready to cooperate with China if needed.

We are facing a learning crisis: UN chief

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 11: Schools are “not equipping young people with the skills they need to navigate the technological revolution”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned, in a message released to mark the UN’s International Youth Day.

Transforming Education is the theme for this year, which comes at a time when the world is facing a “learning crisis”, says Guterres, and students need not only to learn, “but to learn how to learn”.

The UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), which is co-organising the Day alongside the UN Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO), says that statistics demonstrate that significant transformations are still required to make education systems more inclusive and accessible: only 10% of people have completed upper secondary education in low income countries; 40 % of the global population is not taught in a language they speak or fully understand; and over 75 % of secondary school age refugees are out of school.

Ensuring access to inclusive and equitable education, and promoting lifelong learning, is one of the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and International Youth Day 2019, will present examples that show how education is changing to meet modern challenges.

The role of young people as champions of inclusive and accessible education is also being highlighted, as youth-led organizations are helping to transform education, through lobbying, advocacy, and partnerships with educational institutions.

“Education today should combine knowledge, life skills and critical thinking”, said Guterres. It should include information on sustainability and climate change. And it should advance gender equality, human rights and a culture of peace”.

All these elements are included in Youth 2030, the UN’s strategy to scale up global, regional and national actions to meet young people’s needs, realize their rights and tap their possibilities as agents of change.

UN voices ‘concern’ over Kashmir

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 5: The UN has said it is “following with concern the tense situation” in Kashmir after India's government revoked part of the constitution relating to the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir.

Article 370 of the constitution granted significant autonomy to the state of Kashmir.

Stéphane Dujarric, the Spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, said the United Nations was “aware of reports of restrictions on the Indian side of Kashmir,” and urged “all parties to exercise restraint.”

He added that the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, known as UNMOGIP, has observed and reported an increase in military activity along the line of control which separates India from Kashmir.

India and Pakistan fought several conflicts over the disputed region and the UN has been mandated since 1949 to monitor the ceasefire between the two countries.

200 million in China live on less than $5 a day: UN official

BEIJING, Aug 5: A top UN official has said that more than 200 million people in China live on less than $5 a day (roughly 35 yuan or Rs 350) indicating that the Chinese poverty line marker of $1.90 per day doesn’t reveal the actual number of poor in the country.

Many of those in the 200 million are part of the country’s vast rural economy or work in informal sectors, Richard Kozul-Wright, director of the Globalisation and Development Strategies Division in United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, told the state-controlled China Radio International (CRI).

“China has 200 million people living on less than $5 a day, a large rural population, and many people working in the informal economy,” Wright was quoted as saying.

China’s definition of poverty line is the same as that of World Bank’s definition of extreme poverty.

“According to the World Bank in April, extreme poverty widely refers to an income below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day, whereas lower and upper middle income poverty lines are $3.20 and $5.50 a day,” the Global Times tabloid said in a report on Wright’s comments.

Wright’s statement comes amid the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) plans to eradicate poverty by 2020.

A state media report recently said that in 2018, China lifted 13.86 million people in rural areas out of poverty, with the number of impoverished rural residents dropping from 98.99 million in late 2012 to 16.6 million by the end of last year.

Ou Qingping, a senior official from the Chinese cabinet State Council’s leading group office of poverty alleviation and development recently said that from 2018 to 2020, Beijing would allocate 214 billion yuan (about 31 billion U.S. dollars) to places including the Tibet Autonomous Region and parts of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) where abject poverty still persists.

To make the poverty reduction more effective, China has identified 334 counties suffering from extreme poverty and provided targeted support to the areas.

In March, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged perseverance in the fight against poverty as there are only two years left for the country to meet its goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2020.

“There should be no retreat until a complete victory is won,” said Xi.

Defining what it means to be lifted out of poverty, Xi said those lifted out should no longer need to worry about food and clothing while enjoying access to compulsory education, basic medical care and safe housing.

According to official data, more than 700 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty in the past four decades, with poverty rate in rural areas lowered from 97.5 percent in 1978 to 1.7 percent in 2018.

This is not the summer of our youth: UN chief

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 1: Global warming and rising political tensions are dangerous and avoidable, Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters on Thursday, previewing the UN’s upcoming Climate Action Summit, and spotlighting geopolitical hotspots.

Briefing the press at UN Headquarters in New York, Guterres noted that, while there have always been hot summers, this is “not the summer of our youth”, but a climate emergency.

Indeed, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) shows that 2019 had the hottest June ever, with records broken from New Delhi to the Arctic Circle.

July is also on course to equal, or surpass the hottest month in recorded history, and 2015 to 2019 are likely to be the five hottest years on record.

“If we do not take action on climate change now”, said Guterres, “these extreme weather events are just the tip of the iceberg. And that iceberg is also rapidly melting.”

Turning to the Climate Action Summit, slated for 23 September in New York, the UN chief said that the ticket to entry – for governments, business and civil society – is “bold action and much greater ambition”.

This will be needed if the world is to limit temperature increases to 1.5 C and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, by cutting 45 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Beautiful speeches”, he continued, are therefore not enough: leaders need to come to New York on September 23 with concrete plans to reach these goals. Guterres said that many solutions are available and are already being implemented.

These include the growing use of technology that is rendering renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels; the planting of millions of trees to reverse deforestation, and remove carbon dioxide from the environment, the finance world increasingly pricing carbon risks into their decision-making process and calling on leaders to phase out fossil fuel subsidies; and leading businesses are recognizing that, in order to avoid huge losses, now is the time to move from the “grey”, polluting economy, to the green economy.

“We need rapid and deep change in how we do business, generate power, build cities and feed the world.”

Guterres also turned his attention to tensions in global politics, notably in the Persian Gulf, friction between China and the US, and between nuclear-armed states.

A minor miscalculation in the Persian Gulf, he said, could lead to a major confrontation.

Referring to recent incidents in the Strait of Hormuz – which include the diversion of a British-flagged oil tanker by Iran, the US destruction of an Iranian drone, and the UK decision to provide a naval escort for tankers – the UN chief stressed the need to respect the rights and duties related to navigation through the Strait, and its adjacent waters, in accordance with international law.

Concerning China-US relations, Guterres said that the lessons of the Cold War must be learned, in order to avoid a new one, in which two competing blocs emerge, each with their own dominant currency, trade rules, and contradictory geopolitical and military rules.

“With leadership committed to strategic cooperation and to managing competing interests”, he said, “we can steer the world onto a safer path”.

The imminent end of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty – described by the Secretary-General as a “landmark agreement that helped stabilize Europe and end the Cold War”, means that the world will lose an “invaluable brake” on nuclear war.

States with nuclear arms capacity should, he continued, avoid destabilizing developments, and urgently seek a new path towards new international arms control measures. These include an extension of the so-called “New Start” agreement between the US and Russia; the 2020 Review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

 

 

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