United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday expressed concerns about any potential escalation of tension between India and Pakistan after New Delhi withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, PTI reported. He urged both the countries to deal with the Kashmir dispute through dialogue.

“His message to all of them has been the same, both publicly and privately, that he remains very concerned about any potential escalation between India and Pakistan over the situation,” Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in the daily press briefing. “He appeals to both sides to deal with the issue through dialogue.”

Dujarric’s statements came after he was asked on whether Guterres plans to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir during the United Nations General Assembly session later this month. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the session on September 27, and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will address after that.

Dujarric quoted the high commissioner for human rights, and said the situation in Kashmir could only be solved with the full respect to human rights. “You know, the position our position on mediation has, as a matter of principle, has always remained the same,” Dujarric said.

The UN chief has maintained that his office will intervene only if both sides ask for it.

The spokesperson said Guterres met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, and has also spoken to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. On Monday, Guterres also met the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN Maleeha Lodhi on her request to discuss the Kashmir dispute.

On Tuesday, a team of Indian diplomats addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to explain New Delhi’s position on Jammu and Kashmir. They had said that Pakistan was trying to polarise the rights body to advance its agenda in South Asia.

Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Vijay Thakur had said the Pakistan delegation had given a commentary with false allegations and concocted charges against India. “World is aware that this fabricated narrative comes from epicentre of global terrorism, where ring leaders were sheltered for years,” she had said. India stressed about its free media, vibrant civil society and institutional framework that upholds human rights in the country.

Pakistan, which addressed the council before India, said the global body should conduct an international investigation into the situation in Kashmir. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who led the delegation from Islamabad, said UN rights body must not remain “indifferent” and should not be embarrassed on the world stage by its inaction over the Kashmir dispute.

India’s response at the UNHRC meeting came a day after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in her opening remarks called upon India to end the lockdown in Kashmir that was imposed.

On August 5, the Centre had revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of Constitution, and split the state into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

India and Pakistan have witnessed a massive escalation in tension ever since Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was revoked. Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India for Kashmir since Independence, downgraded diplomatic ties and suspended trade.

Last month, Pakistan’s efforts for an international intervention in the Kashmir dispute also led to a rare closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council. This was the first time in over 50 years that the UN Security Council had a meeting exclusively to discuss the Kashmir matter, but it ended without any outcome.

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