UNITED NATIONS - A top Pakistani diplomat underscored the need to address the deteriorating situation in Indian Held Kashmir in the course of a meeting of OIC Ambassadors with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday, stating the escalating tensions could destabilise South Asia, according to diplomatic sources.

The hour and a half long interactive meeting between the Ambassadors from Islamic countries and the UN chief, which took place at UN Headquarters in New York, was held in a cordial atmosphere during which a number of issues of concern to both sides came under discussion, including Palestine, Islamophobia and the situation being faced by Rohingya Muslims.

Pakistan's Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi called for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute at the meeting, the sources told APP.

To avert another crisis in the Sub-Continent, she said, this longstanding issue on the UN agenda and one that figures in every OIC Communique must be addressed.

The Pakistani envoy appreciated the Secretary-General's emphasis on prevention in his approach to international peace and security and said for this it was essential to deal with root causes to resolve conflicts and avert the next crisis from occurring.

That made it important to resolve the outstanding disputes of Kashmir and Palestine, she stated.

As far as, Kashmir is concerned this had the potential of endangering the region's peace and stability and was a priority for the OIC to address, she added. Maleeha Lodhi conveyed Pakistan's appreciation to the Secretary-General for his efforts to strengthen the UN's capability to assist member States in the balanced implementation of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.

She said the broad support that his proposed reform of the CT architecture has received the OIC's confidence that under his leadership the UN's efforts in countering terrorism will be effective and non-discriminatory.  This is particularly relevant to the false association being made by some elements between terrorism and Islam, Maleeha said.

Maleeha said that the disturbing trend of rising Islamophobia is no longer limited just to Western countries but was being witnessed in Asia too where Muslims were facing mob violence every day.

Islamophobia had turned into violent extremism against Muslims, she added. In this regard, she suggested that the Secretary-General establish a task force to draw up a plan of action that Guterres himself proposed in the meeting to counter Islamophobia.  In making the proposal, she emphasised the centrality of youth in efforts to counter Islamophobia, adding, that engaging young people who are adept at using the social media would be crucial to this important endeavour. The proposal was well received by the Secretary General, the sources said.

Earlier, the Secretary General outlined his key policy priorities.  He expressed the hope of maintaining a regular liaison with OIC Ambassadors on issues of mutual concern.