France and other permanent members of the UN Security Council on Tuesday thwarted an effort by China, acting on behalf of Pakistan, to discuss the situation in Kashmir, people familiar with developments said.
China pushed for a meeting of the UN Security Council behind closed doors – the second such effort since an earlier meet on the Kashmir issue on August 16. At that time, China's attempt to have an open and formal meeting of the Security Council was rebuffed by members of the body, which agreed to hold only "closed consultations".
The people cited above said France and other permanent members of the Security Council conveyed to China the body was not the best forum to discuss the Kashmir issue, which ought to be handled bilaterally by India and Pakistan. Non-permanent members of the council such as Germany and Poland too showed no inclination for a discussion on Kashmir, they said.
The Chinese side subsequently withdrew its note seeking the meeting on Kashmir, the people said.
"Kashmir will not be discussed in the Security Council today (Tuesday)," said a person who declined to be named.
"Our (France's) position has been very clear – the Kashmir issue has to be treated bilaterally. We have highlighted this several times recently, including in New York," the person added.
The closed consultations on August 16 marked the first time the Security Council took up the "India-Pakistan Question" – the UN's term for the Kashmir issue – since 1971.
Pakistan has been lobbying China to take up the Kashmir issue in the Security Council since India revoked the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 and decided to split the state into two union territories.
In a letter sent to the Security Council on December 12, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed concern about a possible escalation of tensions in Kashmir.
According to Reuters, China's UN mission had written in its note to members of the Security Council: "In view of the seriousness of the situation and the risk of further escalation, China would like to echo the request of Pakistan, and request a briefing of the Council... on the situation of Jammu and Kashmir." The discussion wouldn't have involved a vote.
Beijing's move created a flutter in New Delhi as it came days ahead of an expected meeting of the Special Representatives — National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and foreign minister Wang Yi — on the boundary issue. The two leaders are set to meet in the Indian capital on December 21 and an earlier meeting scheduled for September was put off due to differences between the two sides.
People familiar with developments said China appeared to be testing the waters in the Security Council for support for a move on the Kashmir issue following criticism by Western and Europe countries of the security lockdown and communications blackout in the region. This criticism preceded concerns in Western capitals over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) that grants citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
China, which claims the Ladakh region, has opposed the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir. India has responded by saying the changes are an internal matter that don't affect external boundaries.