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India, Pakistan should not change Kashmir status: UNGA president

Volkan Bozkir completed a three-day visit to Pakistan on Thursday [File: Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva/Reuters]Islamabad, Pakistan – India and Pakistan should “refrain” from taking steps that would alter the status of the disputed territory of Kashmir, the president of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has said, as the two countries once again traded accusations over the Himalayan region this week.

UNGA president Volkan Bozkir was speaking at a joint news conference with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on Thursday, as he completed a three-day visit to the Muslim-majority nation.

“Both parties, all parties, must refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir,” said Bozkir, a former Turkish diplomat and politician who assumed office in September.

“This is I think the very important part of how we look at the case.”

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three full-scale wars since gaining independence in 1947 over Kashmir, which both claim in full but administer separate portions of.

In August 2019, India revoked a special constitutional status accorded to Indian-administered Kashmir in a move Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said was aimed at increasing development and bringing the territory into the country’s administrative mainstream.

It has also accused India of attempting to change the demographics of the Muslim-majority territory through a new domicile law, which was passed by Modi’s government last year.

Bozkir did not elaborate on whether his statement was in reference to the 2019 and 2020 actions by the Indian government.

“I must also reiterate that the United Nations’ position on Jammu and Kashmir is governed by the United Nations charter, and applicable Security Council resolutions,” he said.

“India and Pakistan’s Simla Agreement of 1972 which says that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means in accordance with the UN Charter.”

Bozkir urged Pakistan to raise the issue of Kashmir at the UN “more strongly” and said a special session could be held on the issue if enough countries petitioned for it.

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