Refrain from hostilities, top U.N. diplomat urges India and Pakistan

World has to focus on the devastating challenge of the COVID-19, says UNSC chief

Published - April 15, 2020 01:52 am IST - NEW DELHI

United Nations logo and flag are seen at the UN Headquarters in New York. File

United Nations logo and flag are seen at the UN Headquarters in New York. File

India and Pakistan should suspend hostilities as the world has to focus on the devastating challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, a top U.N. diplomat has said. The comment from Jose Singer, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic and current President of the U.N. Security Council, came in the backdrop of the heightened tension at the Line of Control in Kashmir that led to several casualties on both sides during the last few days.

“We urge both sides, India and Pakistan, to refrain from any hostilities, now more than ever, and in line with the appeal by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres for a global ceasefire in the wake of the pandemic,” said Mr. Singer in a written response to The Hindu . Mr. Singer said he chose to comment in his national capacity as the Ambassador of the Dominican Republic at the Security Council as the U.N. body is yet to discuss the latest round of tensions.

India on Monday issued a diplomatic note of protest or demarche to Pakistan after firing from its side had killed three persons near the LoC. A similar demarche was issued to Pakistan after the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) had fired upon two Indian fishing boats .

Mr. Singer’s comments have to be viewed as part of an extension of Mr. Guterres’ call for suspending international conflicts to deal with the pandemic. “I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time we put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives,” said Mr. Guterres on Monday.

Mr. Singer said the world is dealing with difficult choices of balancing the economic cost to the viral pandemic that is sweeping most of the nations. “We have all been impacted not only by the devastating and invaluable loss of lives in our respective countries, but also by the economic hardship resulting from necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus, as recommended by the WHO.”

The veteran diplomat who took charge recently conducted the April 9 meeting of the Security Council where all members had participated to discuss the challenges before the world that included the pandemic. Mr. Singer described the situation as a “paramount disruption” in the human life. “The impact of the pandemic both in terms of human lives and on our economies — a decision to address both, must certainly is not an easy one.”

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