Secy Gen spokesman defends Haq over Kashmir row
An extraordinary attack on the Indian media and defence of Pakistani-origin aide of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon marked another round of the raging row over Kashmir at the world body's headquarters in United Nations.world Updated: Aug 07, 2010 15:53 IST
An extraordinary attack on the Indian media and defence of Pakistani-origin aide of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon marked another round of the raging row over Kashmir at the world body's headquarters in United Nations.
Ban's chief spokesperson Martin Nesirky defended his colleague Farhan Haq, associate spokesman, who is in the centre of the controversy, against attacks in the Indian press that suggested Haq was responsible for the remarks concerning the violence in Kashmir, which came out of the United Nations on July 28.
Nesirky also slammed the Indian press for suggesting Haq's "ethnicity" as a possible motivation for the remarks on Kashmir, which New Delhi has strongly objected to. Haq is an American citizen born in Washington DC with roots in Pakistan.
"I won't tolerate insults being directed against my colleagues," a visibly agitated Nesirky told journalists at the regular briefing at the UN.
"I really take exception to the insinuations based on ethnicity that I've seen in Indian publications. I firmly reject them," he said. "Not only are they offensive, they are wrong."
The e-mail containing controversial remarks was originally sent out by Haq to journalists of three Pakistani publications who had been asking questions about Kashmir since the unrest mounted after June 11 when a 17-year-old student died after being hit by a teargas shell fired by police during a protest.
The remarks noted that the Secretary General called on "all concerned to exercise utmost restraint and address problems peacefully" and he "encourages both sides to rekindle the spirit of the composite dialogue".
Following protests by the Indian government, the UN backtracked from the statement and described it as a "media guidance" and not a "statement by the Secretary General."