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UNITED NATIONS, Jun 18 (APP):India’s election to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member will not in any way affect the status of Kashmir dispute, which remains firmly on the agenda of the 15-member body, and which must be resolved on the basis of its resolutions, Pakistan’s Ambassador Munir Akram has said.

“India’s election to the Security Council will not alter the fact that Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir is a flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions and the final disposition of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute will be decided in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people through a free and impartial plebiscite,” Ambassador Akram told APP when asked for comment after the UN General Assembly elected new members of the Council on Wednesday.

Wearing facemasks and practicing physical distancing, ambassadors from UN Member States filed into the iconic but empty General Assembly Hall to cast their ballots during pre-determined time slots: an added layer of protection in the coronavirus era.

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all had to work under extraordinary conditions to overcome the myriad of challenges facing us,” the current General Assembly President, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, said ahead of the elections.

Besides India, Mexico, Norway and Ireland were elected for two-year terms, but the 193 UN member states must return on Thursday to continue voting to fill one more vacant seat after there was no clear winner.

Canada lost out to Ireland and Norway in a hotly contested election for two western seats that included Ireland enlisting the help of U2 singer Bono and taking UN ambassadors to a U2 concert and Canada taking envoys to a singer Celine Dion concert.

India and Mexico were unopposed, having been endorsed by by the Asian and Latin American groups respectively.

Kenya and Djibouti were competing for the African seat, but both fell short of the required two-thirds majority.

To ensure geographical representation, seats are allocated to regional groups.

The Security Council has five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — and 10 members elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms, with seats allocated to regional groups.

The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis – five for African and Asian States; one for the Eastern European States; two for the Latin American and Caribbean States; and two for Western European and other States.

The new members will start their two-year term on the 15-member council on January 1, 2021.

In his comments, Ambassador Akram also said that the International community should not be deceived by Indian rhetoric. “It’s a country that poses the gravest threat to peace and stability in our region.”,

Ambassador Akram referred to recent meetings of the Security Council on Kashmir and said that “the Council remains seized of the matter, as affirmed by its meetings on 16 August 2019 and 15 January 2020; and that a just settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is the only pathway to peace in South Asia.”

It will be India’s 8th term as non-permanent member of the Council.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has already launched its candidature for 2025-26 term, election to which will be held in 2024. The year 2012 was the last time Pakistan served on the Council.

In the past, Pakistan was on the Council in 1952–1953 , 1968–1969 , 1976– 1977, 1983–1984 , 1993–1994 , 2003–2004 , 2012–2013.

The Assembly also elected Turkey’s top diplomat Volkan Bozkir as president of the 75th session, which begins in September

Eighteen countries will also occupy vacant seats in the Economic and Social Council, another of the six main organs of the UN.

They are: Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, the Solomon Islands, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.

Diplomats said that ambassador Munir Akram is expected to be elected as the next President of ECOSOC at the end of July. Pakistan is already a member of the 54-member ECOSOC.

While this year’s General Assembly falls during the UN’s 75th anniversary, the pandemic adds to its historic significance, and the need to maintain safety measures.

Plans are in motion for the annual high-level week, where Heads of State address the world from the dais in the General Assembly Hall.

Bande, the current President, has written to Member States about a scenario that foresees his successor and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres present in the Hall for the official opening, while world leaders will deliver their speeches via pre-recorded video statements.

Delegations have until noon on Friday to submit their feedback.