Guterres again offers 'good offices' to resolve India-Pakistan 'problems'

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has again offered his “good offices” to India and Pakistan to resolve their problems, even though New Delhi has rejected his involvement in bilateral disputes

Jan 29, 2021
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media on Thursday, January 28, 2021, at the UN headquarters in New York. (Photo: UN)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has again offered his “good offices” to India and Pakistan to resolve their problems, even though New Delhi has rejected his involvement in bilateral disputes. He also added that it is essential for human rights to be “fully respected” in Kashmir. 

“Our good offices are always available, and we will insist within it of finding peaceful solutions for problems that have no military solution,” he said on Thursday when he was asked by a Pakistani journalist about Kashmir.

In an apparent reference to their nuclear arms, he warned, “It is clear, when seeing Pakistan and India, any military confrontation between the two would be a disaster of unmitigated proportions for both countries and for the whole world.”

Guterres said that “unfortunately” the call he had made in 2019 for resolving the disputes between the South Asian neighbours is “the same that I can say today.”

“Now, things have not moved in the right direction,” he said.

“I do believe that it is absolutely essential to have a de-escalation of the situation, namely in the Line of Contact (meaning Control). I think it's absolutely essential for the two countries to be able to come together and seriously discuss their problems,” Guterres said.

New Delhi has maintained that under the Simla Agreement of 1972 between then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India and then President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan all disputes between the neighbours are bilateral matters that have to be resolved by themselves without external involvement.

Islamabad has tried to internationalise the bilateral disputes by calling for mediation or other involvement by others.

India has consistently rebuffed offers by outside parties including former US President Donald Trump to mediate.

While welcoming the decision by Presidents Joe Biden of the US and Vladimir Putin of Russia to extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) on nuclear weapons and delivery systems, Guterres said that “all the countries that have nuclear weapons today” have to be involved in non-proliferation if progress is to be made.

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