Monday , February 17 2020

India eases restrictions on Kashmir as UN action blocked


India is starting to ease restrictions on Kashmir after an almost two-week lockdown, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported, as some telecommunication services were restored and people could move more freely.
Landline and low speed mobile phone services resumed in some areas in the Kashmir Valley on Saturday, even as stringent security arrangements remained in place, PTI reported, citing officials it didn’t identify.
Primary schools to reopen and government offices to be functional from then, a government spokesman told PTI.
The lifting of some curbs came a day after a rare closed-door United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in Kashmir that failed to produce concrete action.
China’s ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun blamed India for stoking tensions with Pakistan and called on both sides to exercise restraint. India said that one of its soldiers died in cross-border fire with Pakistan at the Jammu & Kashmir border.
The Security Council met to discuss Indian PM Narendra Modi’s decision to scrap autonomy for Kashmir, though the body was divided on how to proceed, with the US and France blocking a Chinese attempt to get the 15-member body to publicly urge parties to refrain from actions that exacerbate tensions along the line of control, diplomats said.
“It’s obvious that the constitutional amendment by India has changed the status quo in Kashmir, causing tensions in the region,” Zhang told reporters after the closed-door meeting. “China is deeply concerned about the current situation and opposes any unilateral action that complicates the situation and we call upon the relevant parties to exercise restraint.”
China is a historic ally of Pakistan. Underscoring rising tensions between nuclear powers India and Pakistan over Kashmir, it was the first full Security Council meeting to discuss the disputed region since 1965.
Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan welcomed the UN Security Council’s meeting to discuss the situation. “There are 11 UNSC resolutions reiterating the Kashmiris right to self determination and the UNSC meeting was a reaffirmation of these resolutions,” Khan said in Twitter posts. “Therefore addressing the suffering of the Kashmiri people and ensuring resolution of the dispute is the responsibility of this world body.”
One Western diplomat, who asked not to be identified discussing the closed meeting, said even though no decision was reached, holding the meeting helped calm tensions because it showed Pakistan that the international community is engaged on the issue.
India has called the Kashmir decision an internal matter with no bearings on its international borders with Pakistan and China. Yet Beijing issued a strongly-worded statement last week questioning the impact on the mainly Buddhist region of Ladakh — an area of strategic importance nestled between Tibet and Pakistan.

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