The Government took strong objection to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s call for the “engagement of the United Nations” in the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in response to a question during a joint press conference with Pakistan
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto in Bonn on Friday. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called such comments a “grave injustice” to victims of terrorism.
In her remarks, Ms. Baerbock said Germany supports U.N. role in resolving the Kashmir dispute, praised the LoC ceasefire agreement of February 2021, and also called for a “political dialogue” between India and Pakistan. “Germany has a role and responsibility with regard to the situation of Kashmir. Therefore, we support intensively the engagement of the United Nations to find peaceful solutions in the region,” Ms. Baerbock said after bilateral talks with Mr. Bhutto in the German capital, where he said he had raised the Kashmir issue. “There are tensions as [Mr. Bhutto] described, so we encourage Pakistan and we encourage India to follow the track of the ceasefire, to follow the track of the United Nations, and to intensify the political dialogue, and also the political and practical cooperation in the region,” she added.
Reacting sharply to the wording of Ms. Baerbock’s comments, the MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Saturday said that the “role and responsibility” of any “serious and conscientious member of the global community” was to call out international, cross-border terrorism.
“The Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has borne the brunt of such a terrorist campaign for decades. This continues till now,” Mr. Bagchi said referring to the unfinished prosecution of Pakistan-based terrorists involved in the Mumbai 26/11 attacks. “When states do not recognise such dangers, either because of self-interest or indifference, they undermine the cause of peace, not promote it. They also do grave injustice to the victims of terrorism,” he added. Agreeing with Ms. Baerbock on the U.N. role, Mr. Bhutto said that peace in South Asia is not possible without the “peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the U.N. resolutions, in accordance with international law,” and even sought to draw a parallel between “unilateral actions in Ukraine” and “unilateral actions in Kashmir”, in reference to the government’s August 2019 reorganisation of the State. The comments came a day after a speech by Home Minister Amit Shah in Baramullah in Kashmir, where he ruled out a dialogue process with Pakistan, saying the Modi government would not talk to Pakistan, but to “the people of Kashmir” only. Earlier this week, New Delhi had also conveyed objections to Washington over the visit of the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan to Muzaffarabad, and the U.S.’s reference to the area under Pakistani occupation as “Azaad Jammu Kashmir”, indicating concern within the government about global references to the Kashmir dispute. In June, during a visit to Islamabad, Ms. Baerbock had also spoken about supporting the United Nations role, which India rejects, and the need to ensure that “human rights are being guaranteed” in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the MEA had not responded to the comments at the time.
Since the Simla Agreement of 1972, when India and Pakistan agreed to resolve their disputes bilaterally, New Delhi has not recognised the role of the United Nations in Jammu and Kashmir, and the issue has remained largely dormant at the U.N. On August 16, 2019, days after the government’s move to reorganise Jammu and Kashmir and amend Article 370, the U.N. held its first discussion on Kashmir in decades, albeit behind closed doors, where the U.N. Secretary-General had called for “restraint” from India and Pakistan. Ms. Baerbock’s comments on the U.N. role, made twice this year, have hence raised concerns and met with objections from New Delhi.