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Antonio Guterres calls for restraint over J&K issue

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on India and Pakistan to exercise “maximum restraint” and refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir as he highlighted the 1972 Simla Agreement to sort out differences between the two countries.

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The Secretary-General’s remarks came after India revoked Article 370 to withdraw special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Pakistan had termed the Indian action as “unilateral and illegal”, and said it would take the matter to the UN Security Council.

But in a major blow to Pakistan that had sought UN intervention to put pressure on India, Guterres did not offer to mediate. He also urged the two countries to sort out their differences in accordance with the provisions of the 1972 Simla Agreement.

Moreover, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric also said that the Secretary-General had no plans to brief the Security Council — a practice followed when the situation in a particular instance is considered serious enough to warrant such a briefing.

“The Secretary-General has been following the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with concern and makes an appeal for maximum restraint,” Dujarric said, adding that there had been contacts from the UN Secretariat both with the Indian and Pakistani authorities and with the Permanent Missions of India and Pakistan.

The Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also recalls the 1972 agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Simla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means” in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, Dujarric said.

Pakistan had announced it was downgrading diplomatic and trade ties with India, expelling Indian envoy Ajay Bisaria and deciding not to send its envoy-designate to New Delhi.

In its response, New Delhi had said Pakistan’s moves were aimed at presenting an alarming picture to the world of the state of bilateral ties. Reiterating that the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter, the Indian foreign ministry had said, “It is not surprising that such developmental initiatives that could address any disaffection in Jammu and Kashmir should be negatively perceived in Pakistan, which has utilized such sentiments to justify its cross-border terrorism.”

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