United Nations: In provocative comments, Pakistan on Tuesday claimed that Jammu and Kashmir has never been an "integral part" of India and sought an UN-led plebiscite to determine the will of the Kashmiri people, evoking an angry rebuttal by India which termed the remarks as "unwarranted".

"Jammu and Kashmir is neither an integral part of India, nor has it ever been so," Tahir Hussain Andrabi, Counsellor at Pakistan's Permanent Mission to the UN, said during a debate at the General Assembly.

Raising New Delhi's hackles Pakistan's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Raza Bashir Tarar said: "In South Asia, the inalienable right to self-determination of the people of J-K had been recognized by a number of Security Council resolutions. Indeed, the UN decolonisation agenda would be incomplete without resolution of the J-K dispute."

He, however, said Pakistan was committed to finding a peaceful resolution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, which would lead to "durable peace and stability" in South Asia.

Responding to the statement, Indian representative R Ravindra (First Secretary) said the reference made by the Pakistani official to Jammu and Kashmir "is unwarranted and completely irrelevant to the work of this Committee."

"I would like to remind the distinguished representative of Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. The Indian Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights to all its citizens. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have expressed their free will by participating in free and fair elections held at regular intervals," Ravindra said in exercise of the right of reply.

Andrabi said the Indian diplomat had made "some untenable assertions" in his response adding that several Security Council resolutions have recognized Jammu and Kashmir as the "disputed territory."

The resolutions have pronounced that "the final disposition of the State of J-K will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the UN."

Andrabi added that the UN resolutions "clearly state that no electoral exercise conducted by Indian authorities in J-K can substitute a free and impartial plebiscite to be held under UN auspices."

"The right to self-determination of the people of J-K is recognized by numerous Security Council resolutions. The denial of self-determination to the people of J-K for sixty-three years is, therefore, very much relevant to our discussion," the Pakistani official said, adding that Security Council resolutions on J-K are binding on both India and Pakistan and remain to be implemented.

(Agencies)