Billions without clean water, decent toilets - UN General Assembly President

By Iftikhar Ali

UNITED NATIONS/WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (APP):The United Nations and the United States welcomed Thursday’s joint statement of India and Pakistan to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region, saying it was a “positive step” towards peace and stability in South Asia.

Soon after India and Pakistan announced their decision to stop cross-border firing, the United Nations General Assembly President, Volkan Bozkir of Turkey, said he welcomes the agreement that demonstrates the values of UNGA.

“I wholeheartedly welcome today’s ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan. Their stated commitment to achieve sustainable peace through addressing each other’s core issues and concerns sets an example for other countries and demonstrates UNGA values,” he said in a statement read out by his spokesman Brenden Varma at the regular noon briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.

Earlier, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had also called the agreement a “positive step”.

“The Secretary-general is encouraged by the joint statement issued by the militaries of India and Pakistan on their agreement to observing the ceasefire at the Line of Control in Kashmir and engaging through the established mechanism,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“He hopes that this positive step would provide an opportunity for further dialogue,” the statement said.

Replying to a question from APP correspondent at the UN, Spokesman Dujarric said that the secretary-general has no plans as yet to contact the leaders of India and Pakistan for starting the process to resolve the decades-old Kashmir dispute.

He said the UN chief’s good offices were always available for any member state who would request it.

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In Washington, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also said at her daily news conference on Thursday that the Biden administration remains closely engaged with a range of leaders and officials in the region.

“The United States welcomes the joint statement between India and Pakistan that the two countries have agreed to maintain strict observance of a ceasefire along the Line of Control starting on February 25th,” Psaki said.

“This is a positive step towards greater peace and stability in South Asia which is in our shared interest and we encourage both countries to keep building upon this progress,” she said when asked about the joint statement.

At a separate news conference, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the Biden administration had urged the parties to reduce tensions along the LoC by returning to the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

“We have been very clear that we condemn the terrorists who seek to infiltrate across the Line of Control,” he said.

“When it comes to the US’ role, we continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern, and we certainly welcome the arrangement that was announced that will go into effect I should say on February 25,” Price said.

The spokesman was asked about the relationship that the Biden administration was going to have with Pakistan specifically, because when President Biden was vice president, he had a very warm relationship with Pakistan, especially to the extent that he saw Pakistan as a vital partner in the war in Afghanistan. How Biden intends to walk what, as you know, is a very fine line between trying to stay neutral?

ALSO READ  Pakistan, due to its massive plantation drive, has achieved 9 percent decrease in the green house gas emissions as projected by the international studies and is well ahead of its global commitments made to fight climate change.The country despite having limited resources is playing a lead role in Climate Action and ensuring successful implementation of environment protecting initiatives that will benefit the entire region through absorption of carbon emissions resulting climatic changes. After successful plantation of one billion trees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under Billion Tree Afforestation Project (BTAP) and the launch of Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (10BTTP), a scaled up version of the former, has helped in increasing carbon absorption or sequestration to a significant level, said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam told APP in his exclusive remarks. (Match the picture with story slugged “Massive plantation: Pakistan ahead of its commitment on green house gases emissions” already been released)

Price said Pakistan is an important partner with whom the US shares many interests.
“We, have been clearer in terms of this issue. Obviously, Pakistan has an important role to play when it comes to Afghanistan and what takes place across its other border. So clearly, we will be paying close attention, and we urge the Pakistanis to play a constructive role in all of these areas of mutual interests including in Afghanistan, including with Kashmir including with our other shared interest,” he said.

The joint statement issued in Islamabad and New Delhi said the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries held discussions over the established mechanism of hotline contact and reviewed the situation along the LoC and all other sectors in a “free, frank and cordial” atmosphere.

“In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGMOs agreed to address each other”s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence.

“Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight of February 24/25,” the joint statement said.

The two sides also reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilised to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding, it added.