ISLAMABAD - United Nations General Assembly’s President-elect Volkan Bozkir on Monday expressed his strong support for the longstanding dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, linking it with peace and stability of the South Asian region.

“The Jammu and Kashmir dispute needs to be settled through peaceful means,” the visiting UNGA dignitary said at a joint press stakeout with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi here at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

The UNGA president-elect, who arrived in Islamabad on a two-day visit earlier in the day, said, the “meaningful engagement of political and diplomatic channels”, was significant to resolve the issue in accordance with the resolutions of UN Security Council. 

Bozkir, the first Turkish national to hold this position for 75th UNGA session, said Turkey’s position on Jammu and Kashmir was well-known and its foreign ministry had issued a strong statement over India’s action of August 5.

While addressing a news conference along with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad he said Jammu and Kashmir dispute needs to be settled through political and diplomatic means. 

Volkan Bozkir also said difficult challenges can be resolved peacefully through meaningful mutual engagements. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Qureshi had presented their approach to the issue during the talks with him. “If my assistance is requested by the parties, I will be ready to contribute within my mandate,” he added.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the United Nations to play its rightful role in addressing the grave situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir and ensure that Kashmiris exercise their right to self-determination as promised under UN Security Council resolutions.

In a meeting with Volkan Bozkir, PM Khan highlighted the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in the occupied Kashmir since August 5 last year, as well as the ongoing gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Kashmiri people and the attempts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory. The premier extended warm felicitations to Bozkir on his election as president of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.

At the news conference later, Volkan Bozkir said Pakistan was a key country at the United Nations which makes extensive and substantial contributions to the world body’s work including the peace operations. He said the UN looked forward to close cooperation with Pakistan.

Referring to his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, the President-elect of the UN General Assembly said Imran Khan was a well-known political figure in the world that had a vision for the region and the world peace and security as well as also other important issues faced by the world including climate change and problems of least developed countries. He stressed the UN role must also be more towards the countries that are in need. Volkan Bozkir said the world was currently faced with many challenges including humanitarian and deadly conflicts. He said the unprecedented health challenge of Covid-19 is a threat with social political and economic consequences.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that the UN Security Council had deliberated on the lingering dispute three times in a year which is unprecedented and we are grateful to it. He said Pakistan desired that the discussion on the dispute was also held in the UN General Assembly as it was the pulse of the world that highlights the views of the comity of nations.

FM Qureshi said the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir were concerned over the demographic change taking place there. He said if the Kashmir issue was not resolved, peace in the region will remain disturbed, and its implications will even go beyond the region. He said Kashmir had become a flashpoint, and the United Nations must act now on the issue.

About the UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan, Qureshi said Pakistan had allowed the UN Observers and they share their reports. “On the other hand, India has obstructed to the working of the UN Observers. The United Nations should play a role in this regard,” he said. He highlighted that the number of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control by India had been very high last year. “So far this year, India has committed 1845 ceasefire violations, targeting innocent civilians,” he added.

Qureshi also spoke about the role played by Pakistan in pushing forward the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, the challenges that lie ahead and the recent positive developments.

Extending condolences to Pakistan over the loss of lives it faced due to the Covid-19, Volkan Bozkir said Pakistan had been a good example for the world to deal with the pandemic through its policies. He said Pakistan had done better than many countries.

The UNGA president-elect Bozkir termed Pakistan a key UN member state for its continued support of the UN Charter, besides extending immense contributions at multiple levels, including peacekeeping troops.

He mentioned that the upcoming 75th UNGA session in September would be of great importance owing to global challenges of coronavirus pandemic with its social and economic repercussions on countries.

He praised Pakistan for effectively tackling the pandemic, saying, “Pakistan was a good example for the world for handling the pandemic-related policies very well.” “Pakistan has done better than many other countries,” he said.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Bozkir said he was impressed by his vision for the region with focus on peace and security and other global issues such as climate change and reaching out to the under-developed countries.

Asked about the impartiality of the UN as several countries continue to face severe mutual conflicts, Bozkir said since he would be taking oath of his office on September 15, it was not appropriate to comment about it. To a question about Pakistan’s priorities at the 75th UNGA session in New York, Foreign Minister Qureshi said “Jammu and Kashmir would be the top priority. Jammu and Kashmir cannot be overlooked and the issue will keep simmering until addressed.” He called upon the UN to play its role to avoid any trigger between the two nuclear-armed countries - Pakistan and India.

“Kashmir can become a flashpoint if left unresolved. The world must act now,” he stressed.

The minister said other key areas to be highlighted at UNGA session included debt relief for the developing countries, climate change, illicit financial flow and Islamophobia. Qureshi called upon the members of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to “join hands and speak up for the Muslims being targeted with fascist ideologies”.

Asked if he would attend the upcoming UNGA session, he said he had proposed the prime minister for physical participation rather than video-link in view of the importance of the agenda about global health and economic challenges in the wake of pandemic.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and UNGA President-elect Volkan Bozkir held a meeting at the Foreign Office and discussed the denial of human rights in held Kashmir.