China isolated on J-K in informal UNSC talks

The fragile peace along the de facto border in Kashmir is crumbling. Photo by the AFP. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NEW DELHI, Jan 16, 2020, Hindustan Times. China and Pakistan tried, for the third time, to raise the Kashmir issue at the United Nations, in part to embarrass India on the international stage and, in part, to stoke fires in Kashmir Valley, according to officials aware of the development who said the efforts were thwarted by India’s diplomatic allies who left Beijing isolated, Hindustan Times reported.

China got a “stinging response” when it raised Kashmir at a closed-door informal consultation of the UN Security Council (UNSC), Syed Akbaruddin, the Indian envoy to the UN, said in a late-night tweet.

“Today @UN..our flag is flying high. Those that launched a “False Flag” effort got a stinging response from our many friends…,” he posted.

According to people familiar with the discussions, none of the other 14 members of the body “took the bait”, leaving China isolated in its continued efforts to raise an issue that all others have resolved to treat as bilateral — for India and Pakistan to resolve between themselves.

The attempts to raise the issue were through a fresh letter by Islamabad to Vietnam (which holds the presidency of the UN Security Council for this month) and an attempt by Beijing to put Kashmir as a topic of discussion during the informal meeting on Wednesday night. The efforts were meant to revive the failed December 2019 bid to raise Kashmir at the UNSC. The UNSC did not take up a Pakistani letter last month after India pushed back strongly with the help of its friends in the council, particularly France and the US.

According to South Block officials, the Chinese-Pakistani plan was meant to set the stage for Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s visit to the US starting Wednesday. Instead, hours before Qureshi’s arrival, the plan unravelled, with India’s allies saying they will stick to their stance that Kashmir was a bilateral issue between Delhi and Islamabad.

“France has noted the request of a UNSC member to raise the Kashmir issue once again in the powerful body and it is going to oppose it like it did on a previous occasion,” a French diplomat told HT earlier in the day.

Under the garb of peace in West Asia, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has tasked Qureshi to visit the US while army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa is seeking support from West Asian friends such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The latest move, according to Kashmir watchers in New Delhi, is an attempt to disrupt recent Indian successes in Kashmir, including the visit of 17 foreign envoys — including the US — last week. The release of some detainees, visit of European Parliament MPs, the successful conduct of football matches, and the restoration of internet in Kargil and hospitals in the Valley point to a gradual improvement in the situation, they added.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a candid discussion during the October 11-12, 2019, Mamallapuram informal summit, Beijing has not yielded on any of its core interests and continues to side with Islamabad from the UNSC stage.

“Chinese diplomacy seems to be increasingly emboldened in its collective efforts against India in concert with Rawalpindi GHQ. This is the third attempt in the past six months by the China-Pakistan combine [to raise the issue at UN] even as they continue to push the 1267 sanction committee against Indian nationals on the basis of cooked up evidence of deep state of both the countries,” said a senior Indian government official.

He was referring to efforts in a committee, set up in the wake of 9/11 attacks to name and sanction international terrorists, to label Indian professionals working in reconstruction projects in West Asia, especially Afghanistan, as terrorists.

New Delhi has noted that this is the second attempt by Beijing to raise Kashmir after the Mamallapuram summit. Indian officials said they have also noticed that China, especially, has worked to spread disinformation on the Citizenship Amendment Act while keeping silent on Uighur unrest in the Xinjiang province.

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