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UN Security Council holds meeting to discuss Kashmir

UN Security Council holds meeting to discuss Kashmir
‘Voice of people of occupied Kashmir has been heard today in the highest diplomatic forum,’ says Pakistan's UN envoy

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) - The United Nations Security Council held a closed-door meeting Friday on the latest developments in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir as tensions remain high.

The meeting comes after India revoked Article 370 of its Constitution, removing limited autonomy of the region that had previously been guaranteed under Indian law.

The meeting was requested by Pakistan 72 hours after India's move, according to Pakistan's Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi.

The meeting is also the first on Kashmir in over 50 years, Lodhi noted, and was agreed upon by all 15 members of the Council.

"The voice of the Kashmiri people, the voice of people of occupied Kashmir has been heard today in the highest diplomatic forum of the world," Lodhi said after the meeting.

"They are not alone, their voices have been heard. Their plight. Their hardships. Their pain. Their suffering. The occupation, and the consequences of that occupation has been heard."

Lodhi said that Pakistan is ready for a peaceful settlement to the dispute.

India's UN representative, however, lambasted international involvement in the issue, saying that it was an internal affair.

"We don't need international busybodies to try to tell us how to run our lives," Syed Akbaruddin, India's UN ambassador said to reporters at body’s headquarters, adding that any issues will be addressed in Indian courts.

Lodhi refuted that claim, saying the "meeting nullifies India's claim that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter for India. Today the whole world is discussing the occupied state."

Mounting tensions between the nuclear-armed Pakistan and India have further flared following the scrapping of the special status of picturesque Himalayan valley.

Kashmiri leaders and citizens fear this step is an attempt by India to change the demography of the Muslim-majority state, where some groups have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

China's Ambassador Zhang Jun also spoke to reporters after the session and said that his country "is deeply concerned about the current situation and opposes any unilateral action that complicates the situation."

"India's actions have also challenged China's sovereign interests and violated bilateral agreement on maintaining peace and stability in the border area," he said.

In related developments, Pakistan has also downgraded diplomatic relations with India, suspended trade and expelled Indian high commissioners after India divided the region into centrally-controlled "Union Territories."

The region, home to over 12 million people, has been under complete lockdown, with a massive troops deployment to thwart any protest against India's move. The Indian government has cut all means of communication of Jammu and Kashmir with the outside world.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir, in addition to a three-week long Kargil skirmish in 1999.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

source: News Feed
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