‘Need to address illegal occupation of territories by Pakistan’: MEA

Earlier this day, UN chief António Guterres had said in Islamabad that it was important for both India and Pakistan to de-escalate “militarily and verbally” and exercise “maximum restraint”

India on Sunday said that a serious issue that needs to be addressed is that of vacation of territories illegally and forcibly occupied by Pakistan, adding that Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continues to be an integral part of India. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar made a series of statements in relation to the statements issued by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres earlier in Islamabad.

Earlier this day, UN chief António Guterres had said in Islamabad that it was important for both India and Pakistan to de-escalate “militarily and verbally” and exercise “maximum restraint”. The UN Secretary-General is on his four-day visit to the country, amidst the tense relationship between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

On this day, MEA Raveesh Kumar reacted to these statements and said that India’s stance has not changed. “India’s position has not changed. Jammu and Kashmir has been, is, and will continue to be an integral part of India. The issue that needs to be addressed is of vacation of territories illegally and forcibly occupied by Pakistan,” MEA Raveesh Kumar said while responding to Guterres’ statements in Islamabad.

Further, he insisted that the United Nations needs to emphasize on Pakistan’s imperative to put an end to cross-border terrorism against India.

“We hope the UN Secretary-General would emphasize on the imperative for Pakistan to take credible, sustained and irreversible action to put an end to cross-border terrorism against India, which threatens right to life, of people of India,” MEA said, adding that there is no role or scope for any “third-party mediation” in this scenario.

“Further issues, if any, would be discussed bilaterally. There is no role or scope for third party mediation,” he said.

India has repeatedly insisted that the international community needs to take Pakistan-sponsored terrorism seriously while saying that there is no need for any intermediation on the Kashmir issue.

Earlier today, addressing a press conference after his meeting with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “deeply concerned” over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and tensions along the Line of Control.

“Diplomacy and dialogue remain the only tools that guarantee peace and stability with solutions in accordance with the Charter of United Nations and resolutions of the Security Council,” Guterres told reporters.

He emphasised the importance to “de-escalate, both militarily and verbally” while talking about relations between Pakistan and India.

Guterres said he had “repeatedly stressed the importance of exercising maximum restraint”.

“I offered my good offices from the beginning. I am ready to help if both countries agree for mediation,” he said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after New Delhi abrogated ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 last year. India”s decision evoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded its diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy.

India has defended its move, saying the special status provisions only gave rise to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The country took the decision of abrogation of Article 370, which had only given separatism and terrorism to that state,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in October last year.

The UN chief said that the issue of Kashmir should be resolved according to UN resolution.

“UNMOGIP (UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan) should be given free access. It is already there on the Pakistan side, and it should also be given on the other side,” he said.

“We have taken a position that UN resolutions (on Kashmir) should be implemented, there should be ceasefire (on LoC) and human rights should be respected,” he said.

India maintains that UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and is irrelevant after the Simla Agreement and the consequent establishment of the LoC.

India has rejected any third party intervention to the Kashmir issue and has maintained that all outstanding matters in Indo-Pak ties should be resolved bilaterally.

In August last year, Prime Minister Modi categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation on Kashmir, saying it was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, and “we don”t want to bother any third country”.

(With PTI inputs)