UN Secretary General says ready to talk to Pakistan, India officials on Kashmir Issue

After UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres indicated that he was ready to talk to senior officials from India and Pakistan on the situation in Kashmir and see how things can be improved on the ground, voices were raised in New Delhi addressing all stakeholders that the solution to the present crisis in Jammu and Kashmir lies in dialogue at the appropriate political level.

“Only by winning the hearts and minds of the people can their faith in the political process be restored,” former Indian External Affairs and Finance Minister, former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, former Air-Vice Marshal, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, former Special Secretary, cabinet secretariat and others said in a statement sent to The News.

However, cold statistics leave the UN and world capitals cold as reports speak about 192 violations occurringin the beginning of this year, with deaths and the injured rising and thousands of Kashmiris had taken place by January 29, killing eight civilians and injuring 58.

From January 18 to 23, the exchange of fire – light to heavy mortar shelling between Indian and Pakistani soldiers on the IB and LoC – led to the death of 13 people, including soldiers, while thousands have left their abodes.

These former high key Indians say that the anguish of the recent escalation in violence in Kashmir has led to avoidable loss of civilian lives as well as that of security force personnel.

“What is worse is that the violence shows no signs of abating. In fact, it is being stoked further by unrestrained public statements by various actors and the talk of revenge. It is also evident that despite being aware of the futility of picking up arms, an increasing number of desperate youngsters are joining the ranks of militants,” say Yashwant Sinha, former External Affairs and Finance Minister Rajmohan Gandhi, Author A P Shah, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Wajahat Habibullah, former Chairman, National Commission for Minorities Vappala Balachandran, former Special Secretary, cabinet secretariat, Govt of India Kapil Kak, Air-vice Marshal (R) KC Singh, former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs Bharat Bhushan, Journalist and Sushobha Barve, Executive Secretary, Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation.

Guterres was quoted by his spokesman that he “will talk to different officials if it helps [to] move the process along. That’s something that he is looking into. Beyond that, I have nothing new to say about the issue”.

The spokesman made the remarks when he was asked at his daily press briefing about the situation in Kashmir and if Guterres has been able to understand the Kashmir dispute and would he be talking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to start a dialogue with Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the prominent Indians further added, “At this critical juncture, when an entire generation of young Kashmiris finds itself at cross-roads, we would like to urge everyone concerned to step back from the conflict.”

They pointed out that while picking up arms by the militants is bound to attract the use of force against them by the State, intensifying the confrontation can only worsen the situation. The UN chief “will look into the issue, and certainly, he will try to see what can be done to improve the situation on the ground”, said his spokesman.