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India, Pakistan bicker over Kashmir; UNGA watches

October 10, 2012 10:36 IST

For the second day in a row, India and Pakistan sparred over Kashmir at the United Nations after Islamabad made "gratuitous references" to it at the world body.

During the plenary meeting of the General Assembly on 'Report of the work of the Organisation', Pakistan's Deputy Permanent Representative Raza Bashir Tarar said his country appreciates the United Nations' "continued involvement and oversight in Jammu and Kashmir" through its peacekeeping mission United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan.

"We believe that peaceful settlement of long standing disputes like Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir will help promote international peace and stability and enhance the prestige and sanctity of the UN," Tarar said on Tuesday.

India immediately exercised its Right of Reply, retorting to Pakistan's reference to Kashmir.

First Secretary at the Indian mission Namgya Khampa said Pakistan has "regrettably made a gratuitous reference, totally out of context, to the state of Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral part of India. Such remarks deserve to be rejected in their entirety."

This prompted Tarar to exercise his Right of Reply in which he remarked that "gratuitous" seems to be a "favoured word" with the Indian delegation, which uses the word "every time Kashmir is mentioned."

"Suffice it to say that vocabulary cannot be a substitute for truth. If that were the case Noah Webster would be a prophet. I would just confine myself to giving an advice that we should not tackle important long standing festering issues like Kashmir by just trying to cast them aside through such casual remarks," he said.

In her second Right of Reply, Khampa said Pakistan has made "untenable references" about Jammu and Kashmir "which is and has always been an integral part of India." She reiterated that India rejects these remarks, which have no place in the General Assembly.

Tarar used his second Right of Reply and commented that repetition cannot create the "illusion of veracity".

He alluded to the previous exchanges with India on Kashmir during the current session of the General Assembly, saying "that would bring out the truth of the matter".

"I don't want to further dignify these mechanical retorts that we get in and on something which is of grave international importance as pointed out and as underlined by various Security Council resolutions which remain unimplemented to this day," he added.

This was the second time in as many days that India and Pakistan got into a verbal duel over Kashmir and just a week after the two South Asian neighbours sparred over it at the world body's annual general debate.

During the General Debate of the Special Political and Decolonisation Committee on Monday, Tarar had said that the decolonisation agenda of the UN would be "incomplete without resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute". He had said Jammu and Kashmir is neither an integral part of India nor has it ever been.

In response, First Secretary at the Indian mission Prakash Gupta had said references to Jammu and Kashmir are completely irrelevant to the work of the committee and asserted that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have repeatedly expressed their free will and "peacefully" chosen their destiny in accordance with democratic practices.

The war of words came just a week after External Affairs Minister S M Krishna asserted that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. He termed as "unwarranted" a reference by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari -- in his address to the General Assembly -- that Kashmir is a "symbol of failure" of the UN system.

Yoshita Singh
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