GP Insights # 128, 17 August 2019
The UN Security Council held a closed meeting to discuss the situation in Jammu and Kashmir on 16 August 2019. This meeting was held after China asked for a “closed consultation” on the matter and Pakistan writing to Poland the Council President for August also requesting the UNSC to hold a meeting.
What is the background?
On 6 August 2019, Indian government revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which granted the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. India has gone on to state to the international community that this was an internal matter.
Following the revoking, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shan Mahmood Qureshi had gone on to call for an emergency meeting by the UNSC to discuss India’s move. He had also visited Beijing to consult with the leadership on the issue of raising the Kashmir issue to the UNSC. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang had conveyed Beijing's support to Pakistan on the issue.
Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar then went on to convey in his bilateral meeting in Beijing that the matter of Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter for India.
The last time the UNSC addressed the dispute between India and Pakistan was in 1964-65 under “The India-Pakistan Question” and then later in 1969-1971 under item “Situation in the India/ Pakistan subcontinent”. However, this meeting will not be considered as a full meeting because closed-door consultation such as these is informal, not open to the public, and no records of the statement or discussions are recorded. The outcome of the UNSC meeting will thus not be a formal pronouncement as the consultations are informal. India and Pakistan are also not attending the meeting, which is open only to the five permanent members and ten non-permanent members of the UNSC.
What does this mean?
The permanent members of the UNSC have made their stands clear from their sides in the past about India’s move, the United States picked a neutral stance, with President Donal Trump initially offering to mediate but then revoked the offer back stating that he would offer mediation assistance only if both India and Pakistan agree to it. Russia and other UNSC have come out in support of New Delhi’s position on Kashmir, whether this will change remains a question.
The Chinese agenda behind this meeting is to be noted, China has directed its representative in New York to keep close link with Pakistani diplomats on the issue, however, India has gone on to state that there is no need for China to be concerned either with the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and that India was not raising any additional territorial claims. Thus, what China wants from this situation is another question to be answered.
The meeting can also be seen as a push from Pakistan’s Foreign Policy to securitize the issue. They have looked at getting the international community to say something about the issue and to push for their agenda.
Lastly, the Kashmir earlier was seen as a nuclear flashpoint; any issue between the two South Asian nuclear neighbours has always been one that has raised caution. This viewpoint had come down over the past few years; the recent events could revive this perception again at the international level.