Bilawal Bhutto acknowledges India’s diplomatic tactics for Pakistan’s failure to garner UN attention on Kashmir
Bilawal Bhutto acknowledges India’s diplomatic tactics for Pakistan’s failure to garner UN attention on Kashmir: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari acknowledged that India’s diplomatic efforts have thwarted Islamabad’s attempts to bring the Kashmir issue to the forefront of the UN agenda.
Speaking at a news conference in Islamabad on Friday, he stated that “We face a particularly uphill task to try and get Kashmir onto the centre of the agenda at the United Nations.” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also criticized India for “strongly and vociferously” objecting to any mention of Kashmir, thereby shutting out the issue. At the UN, Pakistan stands virtually alone in raising the Kashmir issue and often does so even when it is not relevant to the topic at hand.
Last year, besides Pakistan, only Turkey mentioned Kashmir at the high-level General Assembly meeting, but in a muted reference by President Recip Tayyip Erdogan who expressed hope for permanent peace without any criticism of India.
The last time the Kashmir issue was brought to the attention of the Security Council was in 2019, shortly after India stripped away Kashmir’s special constitutional status. However, the session was held in secret, at the request of China, and the members could not agree on any statement.
Reflecting the strained relationship between Pakistan and India, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari struggled to refer to India, initially attempting to say “our friends within…” before trying “with our friend… our… our…” and finally settling on “our neighboring countries”.
He acknowledged India’s diplomatic success in thwarting Pakistan’s efforts to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN by saying, “Whenever the issue of Kashmir is brought up, our neighboring countries strongly and vociferously object, perpetuating a post facto narrative.”
“They try to claim that this is not a dispute for the United Nations, that this is not a disputed territory recognized by the international community, and they insist, counter to the facts, counter to the reality, that their usurpation of Kashmir should be endorsed,” he added.
Bilawal acknowledged that getting Islamabad’s version of the truth about Kashmir accepted has been difficult, saying, “While we do find it difficult to get the truth across, we are persistent in our efforts.”
India maintains that all disputes between the two nations are bilateral matters, including Kashmir, under the 1972 Simla Agreement signed by Bilawal’s grandfather, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was then Pakistan’s president, and India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Bilawal asserted that at every opportunity, he makes an effort to focus on the difficulties faced by the people of Kashmir, be it at the UN Security Council or various events he attends.
Pakistan often tries to parallel Kashmir with Palestine. Bilawal’s comments came in response to a Palestinian journalist’s query on why Kashmir, which he stated was another “occupied territory,” was being disregarded while Palestine was being discussed.
Bilawal was at the UN to portray Pakistan as a modern Muslim nation by chairing an international conference on “Women in Islam” on Wednesday, coinciding with International Women’s Day and the ongoing session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Bilawal spoke on a variety of topics during his visit to the United Nations, including women’s rights and the economic situation in Pakistan. He emphasized that Islam was the first religion to grant women’s rights and that those who curtail women’s rights are going against the principles of Islam.
On the economic front, he acknowledged that terrorism has taken a toll on Pakistan, with a steady increase in terrorist activity over the past year and significant terrorist attacks in Peshawar and Karachi. He described Pakistan’s economic situation as a “perfect storm of crises”, citing the impact of the Covid pandemic, the fallout of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, floods, and the uncertainty of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.
Bilawal also noted the economic impact of the fall of Kabul and the increase of terrorist attacks since then. He admitted Pakistan’s failings on human rights and said that the country must be willing to tolerate criticism from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. While acknowledging that there is significant progress on the issue of human rights in Pakistan, he acknowledged that there is still a long way to go.