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Pakistan and India trade barbs after rare UN Kashmir talks

Envoys from nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan have traded barbs outside the United Nations Security Council chamber, after members met behind closed doors for rare talks on the disputed region of Kashmir.

Pakistan and India trade barbs after rare UN Kashmir talks

The meeting on Friday came as Indian-administered Kashmir remained under a military lockdown for a 12th straight day following the highly controversial decision by the Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi to revoke the special status accorded to the Muslim-majority state in India's constitution.

Council members met for 90 minutes amid heightened tensions in the contested Himalayan region, which has long been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan - the two countries, which both claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part, have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory. India is also fighting a three-decade rebellion in Jammu and Kashmir that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Pakistan requested the Security Council meeting in a letter on August 13 and it was subsequently called for by permanent member China.

The 15-nation body heard briefings from Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the UN's assistant secretary-general for peacebuilding support, and Carlos Humberto Loitey, the UN military adviser for peacekeeping operations.

Following the session, Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's ambassador to the UN, said the council's first meeting on Kashmir in more than 50 years was only a "first step" that Islamabad would take in support of the people of Kashmir.

"This meeting nullifies India's claim that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter for India. Today, the whole world is discussing the occupied state and the situation there," she told reporters.

Minutes later, Syed Akbaruddin, India's UN ambassador, told journalists that Kashmir was an "internal matter" for India and that it was "gradually removing all restrictions" that were recently placed on the region as it "moves towards normalcy".

"Of particular concern is that one state is using terminology of jihad against and promoting violence in India, including by the leaders," Akbaruddin said, without identifying the country by name.

"We are saddened that terrorism is being fuelled, language and incendiary talk of jihad is being mentioned by people who should know better."

SC 'seriously concerned'

For his part, Zhang Jun, China's UN ambassador, told reporters that council members had been "seriously concerned" by the Kashmir crisis and that neither India nor Pakistan should provoke a situation that was "already very tense and very dangerous".

Those countries should "discard the zero-sum game mentality" to the region, he added.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's envoy to the UN, said Moscow was concerned by the crisis but added that it was a "bilateral issue" best tackled directly between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Dynamics in the council chamber were understood to be guided by long-standing relationships. The United States is a traditional backer of India and China of Pakistan, while many council members have close relations with both countries.

Kumi Naidoo, secretary-general of the human rights group Amnesty International, said in a statement that Security Council members needed to safeguard the human rights of the people of Kashmir.

"The people of Jammu and Kashmir should not be treated as pawns in a political crisis, and the international community must come together to call for their human rights to be respected."


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