Sunday, 17 November 2019

UN Secretary General urges India, Pakistan to defuse tensions

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres – File

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called on India and Pakistan to take immediate steps to defuse tensions and offered to help broker a solution if both sides agree to UN mediation.

Pakistan and India have been locked in a diplomatic clash following a suicide attack on February 14 in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) that killed 40 Indian security forces.

“We are deeply concerned at the increasing tensions between the two countries,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric. Guterres “stresses the importance of both sides to exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps to de-escalation” while also offering to mediate “should both sides ask”, said Dujarric.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had appealed to Guterres to step in to defuse tensions, in a letter. “It is imperative to take steps for de-escalation. The United Nations must step in to defuse tensions,” said the letter sent on Monday and shared by the Foreign Office on Tuesday

Qureshi said: “It is with a sense of urgency that I draw your attention to the deteriorating security situation in our region resulting from the threat of use of force against Pakistan by India.”

He said the Pulwama attack on the Indian Central Reserve Police Force was ostensibly carried out – even by Indian accounts – by a Kashmiri resident of the IOK. Attributing it to Pakistan even before investigations was absurd.

“For domestic political reasons, India has deliberately ratcheted up its hostile rhetoric against Pakistan and created a tense environment. It has also hinted that it may abandon the Indus Waters Treaty.  This would be a grievous error,” Qureshi told the UN Chief.

“It is imperative to take steps for de-escalation.  The UN must step in to defuse tensions.” The letter further said India must be asked to conduct an open and credible investigation on Pulwama incident.

“You may also consider asking India to refrain from further escalating the situation and enter into dialogue with Pakistan and the Kashmiris to calm the situation down. I request that this letter be circulated to members of the Security Council and General Assembly.”

The February 14 attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant group but Qureshi insisted that “attributing it to Pakistan even before investigations is absurd.”

In response to the rising tensions, France was considering a new push at the Security Council to place Masood Azhar, the leader of JeM on the UN terror list, but faced opposition from China, diplomats said.

The Foreign Office of Pakistan on Tuesday summoned the Acting Indian High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia to lodge a strong protest against an anti-Pakistan demonstration in which protesters were allowed to reach and jolt gate of the Pakistan House in New Delhi despite presence of Indian security officials.

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