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Pak-India delegates spar over Kashmir at UN

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan and India were involved in a yet another verbal duel over Kashmir after an Indian delegate protested what he called were "unsolicited comment" about the decades-old dispute made by a Pakistani diplomat in a UN General Assembly's panel.

"Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India," Indian delegate Mayank Joshi claimed, while reacting to a statement made by Pakistani diplomat Diyar Khan in the 193-member Third Committee calling for a settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions.

The Pakistani delegate also said, "It is regrettable that decades after the adoption of these resolutions, the people of Jammu and Kashmir remain deprived of their fundamental right to self-determination. They continue to face widespread repression and human rights violations, which have been documented by independent international human rights organizations."

Exercising his right of reply, Joshi, the Indian delegate, called Pakistani delegate's comments about the issue of Kashmir as "factually incorrect". He said free, fair and open elections were regularly held in that territory at all levels.

Diyar Khan, the Pakistani delegate, immediately rejected the Indian arguments, saying Kashmir is not a part of India. Kashmir, he said, was an internationally recognized disputed territory — well established by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

"Numerous undertakings and statements of similar nature have been made by the Indian leadership at international fora, including at the United Nations," he said. Regarding elections in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistani delegate added that those elections had been rejected by the United Nations and the Kashmiri people.

Resolutions had clarified that no electoral exercise conducted by the Indian authorities could be a substitute for a free plebiscite held by the United Nations. Speaking in the exercise of the right of reply for a second time, the Indian representative said the elections in Jammu and Kashmir had been held under the scrutiny of international media which had not faulted those elections.

Taking the floor again, the Pakistani delegate said the elections held under foreign occupation could not be a substitute to impartial elections. But Joshi, the Indian delegate, said that the references of Pakistani delegation were out of context.

Earlier, speaking in a debate on self-determination, Diyar Khan said that right must be exercised in an environment free from coercion or duress, as electoral processes held in situations of foreign occupation or alien domination did not reflect people's true wishes. Self-determination did not lapse with the passage of time, the Pakistani delegate said. Nor could it be "set aside" by charges of terrorism.

State terrorism and the use of mercenaries to suppress the right to self-determination also deserved attention. He said that Pakistan had consistently opposed all forms of racism and xenophobia. He urged the states to put in place effective legal and administrative remedies for combating behaviour such as faith-based discrimination and inciting violence through hate speech. – The News.