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EDITORIAL: At his first news briefing of the New Year, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted the issues at heart of the situation in the Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and the Pak-India tensions it causes. He emphasized the need for de-escalation on the Line of Control, and “full respect” for human rights in the troubled region. It is clear, he said, “when seeing Pakistan and India, any military confrontation between the two would be a disaster of unmitigated proportions for both countries, and for the whole world.” In an indirect reference to India’s attempt to change the status of the disputed region, he advised New Delhi “to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir,” thereby effectively debunking its ‘integral part’ claims. In another statement he explained that the UN position on this region was “governed by the Charter of the UN and applicable Security Council resolutions [of which there are several],” adding that “the final status of Jammu and Kashmir it to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the UN.”

Coming from the UN chief, there could not be a stronger moral denunciation of India’s actions in IIOJK and policy toward Pakistan. In the last few years, the UN human Rights Council has also been putting out reports, spotlighting what it terms a situation of chronic impunity for rights violations and abuse by Indian security forces. Unfortunately, however, moral norms hardly act as a limitation factor in the conduct of counties having big players on side. The bloody repression goes on unabated. The situation, as the secretary General warned, could lead to a disastrous confrontation between the two nuclear-armed nations. He, of course, does not have the power to enforce a resolution in accordance with the principles of the world body he heads. Nonetheless, he has once again offered his good offices for finding a peaceful settlement of the issue, he right averred, has no military solution. But for that to happen both countries have to accept mediation, which for obvious reasons is vehemently opposed by India. In fact, its leaders have been threatening to launch so-called ‘surgical strikes’ that, as amply demonstrated by Pakistan following the pointless but highly provocative February 2019 Balakot attack, will elicit a befitting response. There is also a clear and present danger of India resorting to some false-flag operation to deflect international attention from its illegal and immoral actions, leading to catastrophic consequences.

The situation will remain fraught unless India changes its policies. Unfortunately, influential members of the international community have failed to abide by the principles that they so loudly proclaim in certain other cases. In pursuit of economic and geopolitical interests they continue to turn a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis in IIOJK and ratcheting up of tensions against Pakistan. That though can jeopardize those interests, too. It is imperative therefore that they press India to do the right thing for the sake of peace and stability of this region.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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