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Just guidance, not formal statement, clarifies Ban office

world Updated: Aug 03, 2010 23:17 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times
United Nations Secretary-General

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office on Tuesday denied that he made controversial remarks on Kashmir and the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan.

But, spokesperson Farhan Haq, who mailed the controversial remarks attributed to the Secretary General to journalists last week, maintained that it was "not a formal statement", but a "guidance released by the office of the spokesman in response to a question asked".

Farhan Haq e-mailed a statement to journalists at the UN headquarters in New York last week stating that Ban "is concerned over the prevailing security situation in Indian-administered Kashmir".

Haq went on to say that the secretary-General called on "all concerned to exercise utmost restraint and address problems peacefully". Concerned over the remarks, which were seen as a departure from diplomatic norms, India took up the matter through its mission to the UN.

The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that Ban's office has clarified that no question about Kashmir was raised at any press conference "nor was any such comment made by the UN Secretary-General.

However, when Haq was asked whether the comment was formally the view of the Secretary General, he said, "It is as prepared by the United Nations."

"The wording is as it is."

The wording is critical to India, because not only does it dwell on Kashmir but also on the matter of the composite dialogue, that has been shunned by India after 26/11 Mumbai attack.

The guidance stated, "He (Ban Ki-moon) encourages both sides to rekindle the spirit of the composite dialogue, which was initiated in 2004 and had made encouraging progress on some important confidence building measures, and to make renewed efforts to address outstanding issues, including on Jammu and Kashmir."

The "statement" whether his views or not, have been seized upon by the Pakistan Government and separatist groups in Kashmir, in the backdrop of unrest in the Valley.

With inputs from HTC, Delhi