United Nations, Jan 19 Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed doubts about his efficacy in enabling talks between India and Pakistan but said he hoped that given their importance they would enter into a meaningful dialogue.
"I have been offering my good offices in relation to the dialogue between the two countries that until now had no condition of success," he said on Friday at a news conference while answering a question about his possible role in such negotiations.
"The importance of both the Indian and Pakistan is such in international affairs (that) I hope that the two countries will be able to engage in a meaningful dialogue."
India has firmly rejected any role for the UN or other outside parties in bilateral relations with its neighbour.
New Delhi maintains that under the Simla Agreement of 1972 between then - Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was then Pakistan's President, all disputes between the neighbours have to be settled bilaterally.
Guterres as well as his predecessors and US Presidents have offered their "good offices" to facilitate a dialogue but these have been rejected by India.
As for UN's role dealing with human rights violations in Kashmir, Guterres referred to a report produced by former UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein last year, saying: "UN has clearly done its job in that regard."
Zeid had made a compilation of what he said were human rights in the state and called for the creation of an international commission of inquiry on human rights violations in Kashmir.
Despite the Simla Agreement and India's stand, Pakistan constantly raises the Kashmir issue at the UN but without getting any international support for it.
Even at the last high-level session of the General Assembly, none of the 193 member states -- except for Pakistan -- even mentioned Kashmir.
Last week, Pakistan's Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi wrote to the Security Council President asking that three matters relating to India and Pakistan be retained on the list of matters the council is "seized of".
Going beyond the Kashmir issue, she also wanted to keep under consideration the accession of Hyderabad Nizamdom to independent India in 1948.
The city has long been integrated into India and flourishing as a centre of technological innovation nicknamed "Cyberabad", and ironically, India is represented at the UN by Syed Akbaruddin, who is from Hyderabad.
Answering a question about the recently held Bangladesh general elections, Guterres said: "It is obvious that the elections were not perfect and we encourage the different areas of the Bangladeshi political sphere to engage in meaningful forms of dialogue in order for the political life in Bangladesh to be as positive as possible."
Surveying the global situation, Guterres warned of a rising tide of fear-mongering around the globe exploiting the growing inequalities and the "deficit of trust" in governments and institutions.
He said that an atmosphere of hate and xenophobia similar to what prevailed before the World War II could develop.
"We hear troubling, hateful echoes of eras long past," he said.
"Poisonous views are penetrating political debates and polluting polluting the mainstream. Let's never forget the lessons of the 1930s.
"When people see a global economy that is out of whack, when they feel they have no chance, no hope, and no leader or institution tuned to their problems, instability and mistrust are sure to follow."
In these circumstance, he said, "the best-selling brand in our world today is fear. It gets ratings. It wins votes. It generates clicks".
To counteract these trends, Guterres said that he had asked his Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, to create a team scale up UN response to these trends and develop strategies to counteract them.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @arulouis)
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