Pak-India tension: Ban ki-moon mediation offer on tenterhooks


ISLAMABAD: (By Yasir Habib Khan)– UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is desperately waiting prompt response by Pakistan and India to accept his mediation to ease out mounting Pak-India border conflict, normalize snowballing tension and to iron out longstanding Kashmir issue.

However, both the country has not reciprocated the arbitration offer so far. But UN official revealed that offer was not time-bound, so would not expire. “Both countries better to accept the role of UN as earliest in a bid to deescalate the live wire tension,” he added.

UN secretary General has arrived on Pakistan two days visit. His mission to resolve the face-off and in addition to an impending withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and mounting calls from within Pakistan against a persistent US drone programme that Pakistan claims violates international law.

After reaching Pakistan, expressing sorrow over the latest outbreak of violence in Jammu and Kashmir, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored the need for Pakistan and India to resolve the “long-standing” issue.

“While I am saddened by the loss of lives in the course of all this conflict, I am relatively, reasonably encouraged by the recent move by both sides to engage in dialogue, to resolve their source of conflict through dialogue—that I will strongly welcome and support,” the secretary-general said.

“My offer of good office remains available. If both sides think this is useful and both sides agree, then I’ll be ready to offer my good offices,” Ban said in response to a question whether he could help leaders of India and Pakistan resolve the decades-old dispute, which is on the agenda of the UN Security Council.

But experts point out that India has consistently rebuffed offers of mediation, whether by the United Nations or any other third party, arguing that solutions must arise bilaterally.

Not only has cross border incidents across the line of control heightened tensions, violence within the Indian administered Kashmir which resulted in the imposition of a curfew which was further extended for 24 hours on Monday, has prompted concerns.

Ban also urged the operating countries or any group operating armed drones to strictly adhere to the relevant provisions of international laws regulating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  He was responding to a question about the deep concern and anger in Pakistan over the continuing US drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed and injured many civilians.

“The UN really and strongly urges that all UAVs should be strictly regulated and controlled under international laws, including international humanitarian laws,” he added.

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said he looked forward to discussing with the newly-elected Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a number of important issues, including Afghanistan from where the United States-led forces are set to withdraw in 2014, posing a challenge because of the resulting security vaccum.

“We really hope to have closer and stronger cooperation, and the role of Pakistan in promoting peace and stability in neighbouring country—Afghanistan,” he said. “There should be a strong regional cooperation. This is why I am visiting Pakistan. It is one of our priority agendas, which I will be discussing with Prime Minister Sharif and President Zardari.”

He said he would also exchange ideas on how Pakistan could accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals—in education,  poverty eradication and gender equality.

Ban, 69, described as a “good message” the first-ever transfer of power in Pakistan from a civilian government to another democratically elected government.

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