Senior UN official skips Pakistan visit, citing flight issue

ISLAMAB – The incoming president of the United Nations General Assembly announced Sunday that he was postponing a scheduled visit to Pakistan “due to some technical flight problems.“

Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir was elected president of the 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly last month and was scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on Sunday.

But in a Twitter post, he said the visit to Pakistan’s capital would have to wait.

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi tweeted in response to Bozkir that “I look forward to welcoming you to Pakistan soon for a constructive and fruitful visit.“

While announcing the visit Saturday, a jubilant Qureshi had said he hoped to discuss a range of issues with Bozkir, including the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is split between Pakistan and neighbouring India and claimed by both in its entirety. The two sides often exchange fire in Kashmir, causing troop and civilian casualties.

Pakistan’s military on Sunday said it shot down a small Indian drone that flew 200 metres (650 feet) into Pakistani-administered Kashmir. It was the the 10th such downing of an Indian drone this year. In a statement, the military released photos of the drone downed near the Pandu border village.

Relations between Pakistan and India have been strained over Kashmir since last August, when India revoked the decades-old semi-autonomous status of Kashmir, which is majority Muslim. The move touched off anger in both Indian-controlled Kashmir and in Pakistan.

Pakistan wants the U.N. to play a role in resolving the issue. After India and Pakistan fought a war over Kashmir in 1948, the U.N. adopted resolutions that allowed for Kashmiris to decide whether they want to merge with India, with Pakistan or whether they prefer independence.

Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over the disputed region since gaining independence from British rule in 1947.