Stoutly defending its decision to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN Security Council as an attempt to de-escalate Indo-Pak tensions and out of “good will”, China on Friday claimed that “most of the members” of the Council have voiced their concern over the situation in the Valley.
China’s comments came a day after India asserted that Beijing’s latest attempt to raise the Kashmir issue at the UNSC on Pakistan’s behalf has failed, with an overwhelming majority of the 15-member body expressing the view that it was not the right forum to discuss the bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.
China, Pakistan’s ‘all-weather ally’, on Wednesday made the fresh pitch to raise the Kashmir issue under “other matters” during a closed meeting in the UN Security Council Consultations Room.
Answering a barrage of questions at a media briefing here on why China is backing Pakistan to raise the Kashmir issue in the UNSC, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, “China’s position is consistent and clear. This issue is a dispute left from history and should be properly resolved following the UN charter, UNSC resolutions, and bilateral treaties and in a peaceful way.”
“As requested by Pakistan, the Security Council reviewed the Kashmir issue on January 15. The Security Council members are concerned about the current situation and they called the relevant parties to observe the charter and resolve disputes peacefully, through political dialogue and exercise restraint and work on de-escalation,” he said.
Replying to a questing on why only China, among all the members, is making such claims, whereas no other member of the body has spoken about it, Geng said, “Indeed the UNSC reviewed the Kashmir issue on January 15 and there was no statement. But China as a permanent member participated in the review meeting and what I said was in line with the review. But if you think this is not true then you can look at other sources.”
When asked to name other countries he referred to, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “If you do not trust our views you may refer to other sites for information.”
At a press briefing in New Delhi on Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, while replying to questions about the developments in the UNSC, said the overwhelming majority of the UNSC was of view that it was not the right forum for such issues. Pakistan’s attempt to peddle baseless allegations and show an alarming scenario failed as it lacked credibility, he said.
Commenting on India’s statement, Geng said, “India’s attitude and views, we understand them. But what I said was China’s views and stance. I believe that India is aware of that and we have been in contact on that.”
To a question on why China is raising the Kashmir issue at the UNSC, when the top leaders of India and China made efforts to improve relations through informal summits, creating a negative perception among Indians, Geng said, “Because we want to work for de-escalation and work for regional peace and stability. This is out of good will. However, if the Indian side interprets it in other way, that will be a wrong interpretation.”
Following the Indian government’s revocation of special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating it into two union territories on August 5 last year, China has criticised New Delhi for making Ladakh a union territory. China lays claim over several parts of Ladakh.
Responding to a question that the Russian envoy in India has said that the Kashmir issue should be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan, he said during the review most UNSC members expressed concern on the current situation in Kashmir and called for restraint and de-escalation of tensions through dialogue.
“Russia is a member of the UNSC and its position has been fully expressed during the review,” he said.
Replying to a question on why China, which in the past has advocated that the Kashmir issue should be peacefully resolved between India and Pakistan, has now changed its stand by including UNSC resolutions and UN charter, Geng said Beijing’s position on Kashmir is very clear.
“We haven’t changed our position. The issue between India and Pakistan has always been on the UNSC agenda. The UNSC should pay attention to the issue in Kashmir based on the latest developments. And in this region, there are still International Observer Groups and it has always been on UNSC agenda,” he said.
About India’s decision to invite Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in the meeting of the Heads of the governments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries, Geng said, “SCO is a regional cooperation organisation. India and Pakistan are members of it. Both the countries, we hope, can work together closely under this framework for the healthy development of this organisation.”
“India and Pakistan are important countries in South Asia and I hope they can resolve their issues through dialogue and improve their relations,” he said.
To a question on allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir during the past five months, Geng reiterated China’s stand, saying that Beijing stood for enhancing dialogue and mutual trust between India and Pakistan and exercise restraint and work for de-escalation of tensions.
“As a responsible country, we have been in contact with both India and Pakistan, and are playing a constructive role on this,” he said.