UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. (Photo: AP)
SRINAGAR: An alliance of key Kashmiri separatist leaders has ahead of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s India visit urged him to persuade New Delhi to engage the Kashmiri representatives and Pakistan in meaningful and result-oriented talks to seek an amicable solution to the Kashmir problem.
In a letter written to Guterres, ‘Joint Resistance Leadership’ which has on it Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, said, "As you embark on your trip to India, we in the State of Jammu & Kashmir take this opportunity to draw your attention towards the urgency of the need to resolve the dispute over it, which, as you know, remains on the agenda of the UN."
The letter added that India’s refusal to talk is "doing unimaginable harm not only to Kashmir, but to the entire South Asian region at a time during which interconnectedness culturally, economically and politically is the driving force in international relations". "Hence, we would like to urge you to advocate that New Delhi engages with us in Kashmir." and with Pakistan, with whom India’s relations are also deteriorating by the day".
The letter asserted, "We have a right to self-determination" and then alleges "But Delhi would like us to abdicate that responsibility before they talk". The letter, copies of which were released to media here on Monday, further said, "To cede to that demand would be to concede before talks, rendering talks unnecessary."
When asked that since India has repeatedly rejected any third-party intervention on Kashmir what makes the alliance hopeful about the UN Secretary General’s India visit, the Mirwaiz told this newspaper, "We’re optimistic because the UN’s Human Rights Commission has in a recent report expressed its concern on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The Secretary General too has said that he is concerned over the situation in the State".
He added that since Kashmir continues to be on the agenda of the UN Security Council, Mr. Guteress "will be only fulfilling his official as well as moral responsibility if he discusses Kashmir and the grave situation prevailing here with the Indian leadership and asks it to sit across the table with the Kashmiris and Pakistan to arrive at an amicable solution." He reiterated that Kashmir issue cannot be resolved unless its people are also taking onboard in talks.
Guterres had ahead of his three-day visit of India voiced concern over the situation in Indian Kashmir while encouraging "positive dialogue" to resolve the disagreements peacefully. He also said that the UN welcomes a greater role for India in addressing regional peace and security challenges.
"On the development front, India already is, and can become an even greater regional development force, helping other countries of the region forge a better future," Guterres told Press Trust of India in the email interview.
He said the UN welcomed a greater role for India in addressing regional peace and security challenges. "I remain concerned by the situation in Jammu and Kashmir—I encourage positive dialogue for disagreements to be resolved peacefully," he said.
During his visit, he is scheduled to meet President Ram NathKovind, Prime Minister NarendraModi and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.
A Kashmiri civil society group- Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS)- had invited the UN Secretary General to visit also J&K during his three-day stay in India for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. But his officer while thanking the society for the invite said it was not possible for Mr. Guterres to visit the State because of his "prior commitments".