By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – For the second time within two months, UN Secretary-General has said that he is “deeply concerned” about the deterioration of the situation along the Line of Control in Kashmir, and has called on all involved to prioritize the restoration of calm and stability in order to prevent any further escalation and loss of life.
“The Secretary-General trusts that the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan can find common ground and work towards a sustainable peace,” said a statement issued by Ban's spokesperson on November 24.
The United Nations stands by the people of the region and supports all efforts to reach durable peace and security, the statement concluded.
According to media reports, shelling and gunfire intensified along the Line of Control on November 23.
Back on September 30 too, Ban had expressed deep concern over "the significant increase in tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of recent developments, particularly the reported ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) following an attack on an Indian army base in Uri on 18 September".
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Ban urged both sides to exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.
“He calls on the Governments of Pakistan and India to address their outstanding issues, including regarding Kashmir, peacefully through diplomacy and dialogue. His good offices are available, if accepted by both sides,” the statement concluded.
In an earlier statement, the UN chief condmned the September 18 attack in Uri, India-administered Jammu and Kashmir, and said “the United Nations is following developments closely and shares the concerns of people living in the region for peace”.
The statement added that Ban hopes that all involved would prioritize the re-establishment of stability and prevent any further loss of life. Ban expressed "deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the soldiers who lost their lives and to the Government of India".
“He wishes a speedy recovery to those injured. The Secretary-General hopes that the perpetrators of this crime will be identified and brought to justice,” said Ban in a statement issued by his spokesperson on the attack, which, according to media reports, left more than 15 soldiers dead and injured dozens of others.
The UN has long maintained an institutional presence in the contested area between India and Pakistan, reported UN News. According to the Security Council mandate given in resolution 307 of 1971, the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) observes and reports on ceasefire violations along and across the Line of Control and the working boundary between the South Asian neighbours in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as reports developments that could lead to ceasefire violations.
UNMOGIP currently comprises 41 military observers and a number of civilian staff members. [IDN-InDepthNews – 24 November 2016]
Photo: Pakistani children hold the remains of a shell that fell during clashes with India in Kashmir. Photo: Sumaira Jajja/IRIN (file)
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.