UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today made no reference to Kashmir and the situation in the Valley in his last address despite Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s repeated calls to the world body to help resolve the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan.
In his final address as the UN chief to the opening session of the General Debate here, Ban touched upon a plethora of global issues including the crisis in Syria, the Palestinian issue, the situation in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, the refugee and migrant movements.
He also addressed tensions in the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East, the South Sudan tensions, violent extremism and its impact on regions from Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan to the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin.
However, Ban did not make any mention of Kashmir or the tensions in the Valley, that have escalated in the recent months, even as Pakistan made repeated pleas to the UN to help resolve the dispute between India and Pakistan.
Kashmir will be the focal point of Sharif’s address to the General Assembly tomorrow. Tensions are particularly running high between India and Pakistan in the wake of the attack by heavily-armed militants from Pakistan-based JeM on an army base in Uri on Sunday that killed 18 jawans.
Ban’s office has repeatedly said that the UN chief’s “good offices” are available to help resolve the Kashmir issue, only if both India and Pakistan request for it, a clear message that it is a bilateral issue and should be solved by the two countries.
Last month, Sharif had written two letters to Ban asking him to intervene in the Kashmir issue. The letters were among the many that Islamabad had shot off to the UN, calling for the world body to take up the Kashmir issue.
However, in his long and final address to the world leaders, Ban did not make one reference to Kashmir while highlighting the issues on the UN agenda.
In his address, Ban referred to the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement on climate change, security threats by armed conflicts and its “tragic consequences” which are on brutal display from Yemen to Libya and Iraq, from Afghanistan to the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin.
He also spoke about the conflict in Syria, which “is taking the greatest number of lives and sowing the widest instability”.
Ban also touched upon the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying “replacing a two-state solution with a one-state construct would spell doom: denying Palestinians their freedom and rightful future, and pushing Israel further from its vision of a Jewish democracy towards greater global isolation”.
“In Myanmar, the transition has entered a promising new phase. In Sri Lanka, post-war healing efforts have deepened. In both countries, true reconciliation rests on ensuring that all communities, minorities and majorities alike, are included in building a new union,” he said.
The second five-year term of Ban is expiring on December 31.
On the refugees and migrants situation, he said: “Muslims, in particular, are being targeted by stereotyping and suspicion that have haunting echoes of the dark past.
“I say to political leaders and candidates: do not engage in the cynical and dangerous political math that says you add votes by dividing people and multiplying fear. The world must stand up against lies and distortions of truth, and reject all forms of discrimination.”
Ban said “time and again, I have seen essential action and good ideas blocked in the Security Council. Blocked in the General Assembly. Blocked in the budget process, blocked in the Conference on Disarmament and other bodies”.
“Is it fair in this complicated 21st century for any one country or few countries to yield such disproportionate power, and hold the world hostage on so many important issues,” he added.
His address also touched on the situation in Cyprus, violence against women and empowerment of girls, rights of gays and lesbians, “regardless of ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation” as well reform of the Security Council.
On the Korean Peninsula, he said the fifth nuclear test by North Korea has “again threatened regional and international security”.
His speech also referred to the situation in Ukraine and South Sudan.
Ban also spoke about the advancement of technology in the last 10 years since he has been UN chief and its unfortunate use by extremists.
“Our phones and social media have connected the world in ways that were unimaginable when I took office. Yes, they have been abused by extremists and hate groups. But they have also created a world of new communities and opportunities,” he said.