FO welcomes Ban’s offer for Pak-India mediation over Kashmir

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday welcomed United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s offer to mediate Pak-India peace talks amid heightening tensions between the two countries after the killing of a Kashmiri in India-held Kashmir (IHK) sparked protests in the region.

“It is the UN’s responsibility to intervene in the matter and get the issue resolved,” FO spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at a press briefing, adding that the world body should play its role in order to get UN resolutions implemented.

“Good offices is a standing offer,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said earlier, underscoring that the secretary general’s good offices worked only when both parties agreed to mediation.

The FO spokesman rejected the Indian government’s view that on going unrest in the disputed state was an ‘internal’ matter and strongly condemned the fresh wave of violence and atrocities committed against Kashmiris by the Indian armed forces.

“India cannot call the present situation of Jammu Kashmir an ‘internal’ matter,” Zakaria said. “Jammu Kashmir is not an ‘internal’ matter of India, it’s a recognised issue under the United Nations,” he added. He also rejected Indian accusations of terrorism against Kashmiri people.

“Dialogue is the only option to resolve this (Kashmir) issue,” he said. The death toll from clashes between the Indian troops and Kashmiri protesters in the disputed state has risen to 34 as massive protests continued despite imposition of an indefinite curfew in most parts of the state after Burhan Wani was killed.

Paramilitary troops and police in riot gear patrolled villages and towns in the region. Most shops were shuttered, businesses were closed and cellphone services were suspended. The Indian forces used live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas for crowd control in the region as protesters defied the curfew. Pakistan already condemned extra-judicial killing of Wani by the Indian government forces.

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