Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls for "enhanced dialogue" between India and Pakistan over disputed Kashmir while calling for "full respect for humans rights and continental freedoms" in the region.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens a journalist's question during a joint press conference with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (unseen) at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad on February 16, 2020.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens a journalist's question during a joint press conference with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (unseen) at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad on February 16, 2020. (AFP)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres repeated calls on Sunday for de-escalation and diplomacy in the resolution of Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, saying "UN Security Council resolutions [should] be implemented", humans rights "respected", and "continental freedoms" allowed in the Himalayan region. 

"It is clear that we have taken a position about the need for Security Council resolutions to be implemented and for effective de-escalation and dialogue linked to that, with another very important condition which is full respect for humans rights and continental freedoms in Jammu & Kashmir," Guterres said.

The UN chief arrived in Islamabad earlier on Sunday, for a four-day diplomatic visit to Pakistan.

During a news conference with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi he called for "full freedom of movement" of UN's military observer group (UNMOGP) on both sides of the region divided by a highly militarised de facto border, Line of Control.

"In relation to the ceasefire, I visited UNMOGP. We believe that UNMOGP should have full freedom of movement. It has on the Pakistani side, we hope that this will also be achieved on the other side.  We will be strengthening its equipment capacity in order to better be able to implement its mandate."

Guterres said he has always been advocating the need for an "enhanced dialogue" between India and Pakistan and for that he offered his good office more than once.

The Indian foreign affairs ministry immediately rejected Guterres' mediation offer on Kashmir, the Times of India reported.

HR reports on Kashmir hailed

Recalling the UN Human Rights Commission reports on Kashmir, he said the two reports played "a very important role in clarifying the situation" in Indian-administered Kashmir.

"So our strong commitment is clear, human rights must be respected everywhere in the world, but also there," he added.

The UN chief remarks came some seven months into a stringent lockdown on the Indian-administered Kashmir, a move widely decried by human rights groups as well as the global Islamic community.

Control of the Himalayan province is split between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim it in its entirety, and they have fought two of their three wars over the territory.

Since 1989, a full-blown armed rebellion has raged in the Indian-administered portion seeking a united Kashmir — either under Pakistani rule or independent of both countries. 

India accuses Pakistan of training and arming the rebels, a charge Islamabad denies. Pakistan says it will continue backing Kashmiris' right to self-determination according to several UN resolutions. 

Around 100,000 people have been killed in the uprising and an Indian military crackdown.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi meanwhile highlighted his government's concerns over New Delhi's actions in Indian-controlled Kashmir and its decision to unilaterally annex the territory.

"We feel that, collectively, we have to agree on a road map of repatriation, which is time-bound, which is supported by the international community and is well resourced", he said.

Pakistan sets global example hosting refugees

Also during the news conference, Guterres called Pakistan "a reliable and generous partner" for hosting millions of Afghan refugees, pointing out that the South Asian county has had to do so with little support from the international community.

Guterres will address an international conference on what are decades of refugees fleeing conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan.

"Pakistan is today the world's second-largest host of refugees," the UN chief said.

"Despite its own challenges Pakistan has sheltered and protected Afghan refugees with limited support from international community," he added.

"My first meeting in Pakistan: generations of Afghan refugees shared their deeply moving stories, hopes & dreams. For 40 years, Pakistan has sheltered Afghan refugees. I urge the world to support host countries and show similar leadership in standing #WithRefugees," the UN chief said on Twitter.

During his stay in Islamabad, he will deliver a keynote address at an international conference on Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

He will also meet with President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, according to a foreign ministry statement.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies