India and Pakistan had back-channelled talks for restarting the stalled dialogue in late last year and early this year

India has told the United Nations Security Council that the onus to create a conducive atmosphere for bilateral talks is on Pakistan and, till then, it would continue to respond to cross-border terrorism firmly and decisively.

An official of the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations told the Security Council that India desired normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan and committed to addressing outstanding issues, if any, bilaterally and peacefully in accordance with the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore declaration.

“However, any meaningful dialogue can be held only in an atmosphere free of terror, hostility and violence. The onus is on Pakistan to create such a conducive atmosphere,” Kajal Bhat, counsellor and legal adviser of the Permanent Mission of India in New York, added. “Till then, India will continue to take firm and decisive steps to respond to cross-border terrorism.”

Bhat was responding to Pakistan’s allegations about human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir of India. Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Munir Akram, raked up the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and criticized India while participating in an open debate in the Security Council on “Peace and security through Preventive Diplomacy: A common objective to all UN principal organs”. He accused New Delhi of human rights violations in J&K.

Akram said that it should be a high priority for the Security Council to prevent another conflict between Pakistan and India and to promote a just and peaceful resolution of the J&K dispute in accordance with its own resolutions. He also said that it should be a high priority for the UN Secretary-General to fully utilise his broad authority under the UN Charter to promote a fair and peaceful resolution of the dispute and end the massive human rights violations taking place in J&K.

Though India’s national statement on the topic was delivered by its Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, R Ravindra, Bhat made a second statement to respond to Pakistan.

“The entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were, are and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. This includes the areas that are under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. We call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” Bhat told the Security Council.

She said that Pakistan had an established history and policy of harbouring, aiding and actively supporting terrorists. “This is a country which has been globally recognized as one openly supporting, training, financing and arming terrorists as a matter of State policy. It holds the ignoble record of hosting the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the UN Security Council.”

The Indian Army and the Pakistan Army on February 25 this year agreed to stop firing at each other across the Line of Control (LoC) and strictly adhere to the 2003 ceasefire agreement – fuelling speculation about the possibility of resumption of the bilateral dialogue, which remained suspended since 2013. The Pakistan Army, however, of late restarted not only flouting the truce and opening fire on the Indian Army posts but also facilitating infiltration of terrorists into India.

India and Pakistan had back-channelled talks for restarting the stalled dialogue in late last year and early this year, with the top brass of the intelligence agencies of the two nations holding several rounds of informal talks in the United Arab Emirates over the past few months. New Delhi, however, neither officially confirmed nor denied the reports about its back-channel talks with Islamabad.

What, however, apparently stalled the process is Khan’s public stand that Pakistan could restart formal talks with India only when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in New Delhi would roll back its August 5, 2019 move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and to reorganize the state into two Union Territories.

New Delhi strongly rejected Khan Government’s demand, underlining that the decision on J&K was an internal affair of India and endorsed by the Parliament of India.