UNITED NATIONS/WASHINGTON

Pakistan raised the issue of repeated Indian firing across the Line of Control in disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir at the United Nations on Tuesday, as the world body chief and a US State Department spokesperson urged India and Pakistan to resolve their problems through dialogue.

Concerned at clashes along the LoC, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called on the two South Asian neighbours to resolve their issues “diplomatically and through discussions.”

In Washington, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said the United States has been in contact with Pakistan and India to encourage the two South Asian countries to resolve their tensions.

“We have large embassy presences in both countries, so I’m certain we’re in touch, and we encourage ongoing dialogue,” she said in reference to American diplomatic contacts in Islamabad and New Delhi.

The spokesperson was responding to a question at the daily briefing, after Islamabad reported another death and at least a dozen more wounded in Indian shelling. Four persons were killed on Monday and the death toll on Wednesday reached 12. The two days of firing and ceasefire violations have reignited tensions between the two nuclear powers.

On Monday, the State Department said it is “concerned about any violence along the Line of Control,” and urged that the two countries try to resolve tensions and disputes through negotiations.

At UN Headquarters in New York, Pakistan underscored the need for resolution of the lingering Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, while expressing its “deep concern” over the recent ceasefire violations at the Line of Control and the working boundary by the Indian security forces on the occasion of Eidul Azha.

“Longstanding, festering issues cannot be swept under the carpet,” Ambassador Masood Khan, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, told the General Assembly while participating in a debate on UN Secretary-General’s report on the work of the organisation.

“We call upon the Indian government to immediately cease fire and help us preserve tranquillity,” he said, adding that UNMOGIP, the world body’s observer force in the disputed region, must be enabled to play its role in monitoring the ceasefire. India has been hampering the work of UN observers.

Pakistan, he said, was pursuing a policy of constructive engagement to resolve differences and to enhance economic opportunities for the region. In this context, he reminded the audience of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s speech in the General Assembly in September that the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir had to be resolved though negotiations, in accordance with the wishes of its people. In this regard, the Pakistani leader reminded the United Nations of its own responsibility.

At the end of the debate on the UN Secretary-General’s report on the work of the organisation, representatives of India and Pakistan had a verbal duel over the skirmishes along the LoC.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, India’s representative Devesh Uttam accused Pakistan of violating the ceasefire, which he claimed had resulted in six people being killed. Relations were being hampered, and the onus was on Pakistan, he said, adding India’s armed forces would respond to provocations.

Reacting to the Indian representatives’ statement, Nabeel Munir, Minister at the Pakistan Mission to the UN, said that for seven days, Indian security forces had been shelling across the Line of Control. Monday had been the Muslim holiday of Eidul Azha, yet still Indian forces had played havoc, he said. It was saddening that the Indian government had not been able to restrain its forces, the Pakistani delegate said, calling upon the Indian government to cease fire.

The Government of Pakistan had exercised restraint and extended a hand to India, and this unprovoked firing was a cause of deep concern, he said. Munir hoped that the Indian side should give peace a chance.