UK backed China’s move to issue statement over Kashmir at UNSC

China’s efforts to issue a statement following last week’s informal consultations on the Kashmir issue at the UN Security Council were backed by the UK, causing consternation in India and other countries, people familiar with developments said on Tuesday.

Though an attempt by Pakistan and China to have an open and formal meeting of the Security Council was rebuffed by members of the body, the council agreed to hold “closed consultations” on the Kashmir issue on August 16. This was the first time the council took up the “India-Pakistan Question” – the UN’s term for the Kashmir issue – since 1971.

The rare closed-door consultations on Kashmir by the UNSC, taken up in the wake of India’s revocation of the special status for Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month, ended without any outcome or a statement from the powerful 15-nation UN organ last week.

The people cited above, including officials of two Western countries, said the UK had taken the line during informal consultations before the August 16 meeting that there should be some form of statement following the “closed consultations”. This was in line with China’s position, they said.

Some of the UN Security Council’s 15 members, especially the US, France and the Dominican Republic, attempted to block even the informal meeting and also opposed any statement.

During the informal consultations ahead of the August 16 meeting, the British side argued there should be some sort of “public product”, the people said.

The British side further argued that without any statement, Pakistan and China could make more efforts to convene a formal meeting of the UN Security Council that would have recorded minutes and an official statement, the people added.

The UK’s stand took India and other countries, including those who were attempting to block the informal consultations, by surprise.

Referring to the issue, a British government functionary said on Tuesday: “I can confirm we did not take sides in the debate [within the UN Security Council] and did not side with China against India.”

The functionary reiterated the UK’s position that the Kashmir issue should be bilaterally settled by India and Pakistan: “As you know, our longstanding position is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political solution on Kashmir.”

Besides the “closed consultations” at the UN Security Council, there has been concern in New Delhi over London’s handling of violence during a protest outside the Indian mission in the British capital on August 15. India has conveyed its concerns in this regard to the UK through diplomatic channels.

Images of the large-scale protest by anti-India elements showed members of the Indian community were targeted with eggs and bottles filled with water. Window panes of the India mission were shattered and the building suffered damage as police initially struggled to maintain order.

The violence was described by Indian quarters in London as “very worrying, unfair and unacceptable” as it amounted to almost a siege of the high commission and “just short” of the building being stormed by protestors.

There has also been concern in Indian quarters about British authorities allowing such a protest and the Foreign Office denying the violence by describing the demonstration as “overwhelmingly peaceful” when London mayor Sadiq Khan had already condemned the violence.

Source : Hindustan Times

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