NEW DELHI (AP) — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling on India and Pakistan to refrain from taking any steps that would affect the status of Kashmir.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Aug. 8 “the position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions.”
Dujarric reiterated that statement when asked if the secretary-general supports the Security Council’s call for a plebiscite on the future of Kashmir.
He said Guterres also recalls the 1972 Simla agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan “which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.”
He said the secretary-general “is also concerned over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir, which could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region,” and reiterates his call for “maximum restraint.”
Pakistan says it is still committed to continue talks about the opening of a visa-free border crossing to allow pilgrims to visit a Sikh shrine just inside the Islamic nation despite increasing tension with New Delhi over Kashmir.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made the announcement Aug. 8, saying Islamabad respects all religions.
Pakistan and India have held several rounds of talks on the plan to give special permits to devotees to access the shrine, the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib. Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, settled in what is now Pakistan’s Kartarpur, where he spent the last 18 years of his life.
The shrine was built after Guru Nanak died in the 16th century and is visible from the Indian side of the border.
Qureshi also said Islamabad is not considering any military actions and instead is looking at political and legal options to challenge India’s changes to disputed Kashmir’s status.
He says he will soon travel to China to inform Beijing about the situation and rejected New Delhi’s claim that the changes were its internal matter and that Islamabad should reconsider its expulsion of India’s ambassador and suspension of trade and a key train service.