Kashmir has been the talk of the international community since the abrogation of article 370 stripped away its special status. It popped up on the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) radar first on August 16 and then again on January 15 when China requested another briefing.
Accordingly, the 15-member body (Elected 10 members dubbed the E-10, and the 5 permanent members called the P-5) met for closed-door consultations in New York, to discuss political detentions and internet restrictions among other issues. So, where do different permanent members stand on the subject?
It is believed that China pushed for the meeting at Pakistan’s request. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had written to the council to express concern about a possible further escalation of tensions. In fact, China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun acknowledged as much telling reporters, “We all know the Security Council has received a letter from the foreign minister of Pakistan requesting Security Council discussions and discussions are going on.” It is noteworthy that the meeting was previously scheduled for December, but it was postponed at China’s request before being held finally on January 15, 2020.
The US has perhaps been the most vocal on all that has transpired in Kashmir. US President Donald Trump has on multiple occasions offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, once famously claiming Modi backed the idea. The Indian administration rushed to deny Trump’s claims. Now, at Davos, Trump has met with Imran Khan and made a fresh pitch to mediate between the two countries.
It is noteworthy, that in December 2019, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, an Indian origin US lawmaker, had moved a resolution in the House of Representatives urging India “to end the restrictions on communications and mass detentions in Jammu and Kashmir as swiftly as possible and preserve religious freedom for all residents.” Now Congresswoman Debbie Dingell has joined the chorus and has cosponsored a resolution urging India to end communication restrictions and detentions in J&K.
The resolution no. 745 that was introduced in the House last year by Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal now has 36 co-sponsors of whom two are Republicans and 34 from the Democratic Party. It is currently before the House Foreign Affairs Committee for necessary action.
From the very outset, France has been clear that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan and that there was no need to mediate. In fact, last August after a 90-minute one-on-one meeting in France between French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the duo released a joint statement. Macron acknowledged that they had discussed Kashmir and told reporters, “I told him that India and Pakistan will have to find a solution to the issue and no third party should interfere or incite violence in the region.”
The United Kingdom has a large diaspora of people who hail from Pakistan Administered Jammu and Kashmir (PJAK). This is why UK has skin in the game. But most of the PJAK diaspora are faithful Labour Party supporters. In wake of Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson’s recent victory, one wonders if UK would continue to raise concerns about the alleged human rights abuse and oppression of Kashmiris.
Russia has also chosen to stay out of what it perceives to be a bilateral issue. A statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on August 9, 2019 said, “We proceed from fact that the changes associated with the change in the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and its division into two union territories are carried out within the framework of the Constitution of the Republic of India. We hope that the parties involved will not allow a new aggravation of the situation in the region as a result of the decisions.”
Given how China and the US appear to be batting for Kashmir, albeit for vastly different reasons, their potential role in building international consensus cannot be ignored, even though other global players might choose to play it safe and stay away from a ‘bilateral issue’.