UNITED NATIONS (AP) – India’s external affairs minister took on Pakistan at the United Nations on Monday for raising the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
S. M. Krishna told the General Assembly that India has resumed dialogue with Pakistan and wants to normalize relations. But he lashed out at a speech last week by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardarif, saying the neighboring nation had no business meddling in India’s predominantly Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir, which India claims as sovereign territory.
“An unwarranted reference has been made to Jammu and Kashmir from this podium,” he said, adding, “We wish to make it abundantly clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.”
Zardari said in his speech that Kashmir remained “a symbol of the failures of the United Nations system rather than its strengths.” He said a solution could only be reached in an “environment of cooperation.”
As the annual high-level meeting of the General Assembly wound down Monday night, representatives of India and Pakistan traded several rounds of rebuttals before a mostly empty chamber. The Pakistani delegation was seen smiling and shaking their heads as an Indian diplomat issued yet another reply to a statement by Pakistan.
A violent separatist insurgency that started in 1989 drew a crackdown by Indian forces that has killed about 68,000 people in Kashmir, where public resentment against Indian rule runs deep.
The rebellion is largely suppressed, with occasional flare-ups. The Indian army said last week that a fierce gunbattle killed a suspected rebel and a soldier.
Earlier this month, Indian police arrested Merajuddin Wani, one of the longest-surviving rebel commanders in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
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