It is a pity that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made it a point to suggest recently that he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif a few times in order to urge them to bilaterally compose their differences on Kashmir. It was decidedly undiplomatic of the UN chief to say this to the media when he had been informed by the Indian PM earlier that the UN’s intercession was uncalled for, and that the two nations had agreements between them underlining that Kashmir was a matter to be resolved peacefully through the bilateral process alone and through no other aegis — either that of the United Nations or that of any country.
Alas, it became necessary for the Indian government to reiterate this stand before the press on Thursday as the UN chief had chosen to go public. A few weeks before Mr Guterres brought up the question of Kashmir, the US ambassador to the UN, Ms Nikki Haley, who has Cabinet rank, had been outspoken on the subject. With terrorist activity by Pakistani proxies increasing in the Kashmir Valley this year, she had practically threatened that the US would not stand idly by and hinted that her country could involve itself in settling the Kashmir question. She had also indicated that Washington might work to get the matter discussed before the UN Security Council. In this backdrop, it is logical to ask if the UN Secretary-General’s recent articulation is from the standpoint of a neutral observer or is he becoming someone’s voice?
Needless to say, US meddling has resolved nothing anywhere. Afghanistan is still a running sore 16 years after the arrival of US troops in that country with the professed aim of dismantling radical extremism and terrorism unleashed on the hapless Afghan people by armed extremists, who find sanctuaries, weapons and training, and cash across the border in Pakistan. Ms Haley and Mr Guterres both seem to pretend that they do not know why Afghanistan remains at war. In the same way, they give the impression of condoning terrorist intervention by Pakistan in many parts of India, especially Kashmir.
India’s ambassador to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin, did well on Thursday to urge the Security Council to find out why terrorist violence had reached dangerous levels in Afghanistan, threatening the efforts of “one of the collective military efforts in the world”, meaning the US-led Nato military contingents, and where the sanctuaries and sources of military supply of the terrorists were. Pakistan should be named, shamed and sanctioned by the UN for perpetrating terrorist violence in Afghanistan and in Kashmir. Let the Secretary-General not issue unsought advice. Besides, where has the UN intervened successfully?