Russia, US adopt same stance on Pak-India tension

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ISLAMABAD: Russia has also supported the US, calling upon both Pakistan and India to show restraint and resolve all the outstanding issues through peaceful means, the Sputnik reported on Friday.

The Russian foreign ministry on Friday issued a statement demonstrating its strong commitment to fight terrorism and showing concern over the developing situation between Pakistan and India in disputed Kashmir. “We are concerned over the aggravation lately of the situation along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. We are calling on the parties not to allow any escalation of tension and to settle the existing problems by political and diplomatic means through negotiations,” reads a statement issued by Russian Foreign Ministry in connection with the aggravating situation along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan.

It further said, “We expect that the Government of Pakistan will take effective steps in order to stop the activities of terrorist groups in the country.”Meanwhile, US State Department Spokesperson John Kirby neither confirmed nor denied India’s claim on “surgical strikes” on alleged terror camps in Pakistan.

In a press briefing, Kirby responded to questions from journalists on India’s claim to have carried “surgical strikes” in retaliation to Pakistan’s alleged terror attack that targeted an Indian Army camp in Uri, earlier this month, a transcript of which was made available by the US State Department, with some gaps in the entire speech as audio was not completely clear.

“We’ve seen those reports. We’re following the situation closely, as I think you can understand. We also understand that the Indian and Pakistani militaries have been in communication. We believe that continued communication is obviously important to reduce tensions.”

Kirby continued: “We’ve repeatedly expressed our concerns regarding the danger that terrorism poses to the region. And we all know that terrorism, in many ways, knows no border.”

Responding to a question, if India consulted the US before the “surgical strikes”, as pointed out in some media reports that Secretary Kerry spoke to his counterpart in India, Kirby responded: “I can confirm for you that Secretary [Kerry] spoke with the – on the27th, so earlier this week, with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and reiterated his strong condemnation of the September 18 Uri attack. He condemned terrorism in all its forms and he cautioned against any escalation in tensions.”

In response to a follow-up question on whether the recent attack was an escalation, Kirby said, “I’m not going to characterise it. Obviously, it’s – I mean, obviously an attack like that escalates tensions. But what I don’t want to do is try to get into some sort of broad characterisation, one way or the other. But obviously an attack like this is horrific.”

Kirby, however, was interrupted by a journalist to clarify if the “surgical attack” was the one that Secretary Kerry warned against.The spokesperson again circumvented the “surgical strike” issue by saying that he was not commenting on it.

“Oh, I thought you were talking about the Uri attack,” he clarified.Kirby concluded by saying: “Well, look again we – our message to both sides has been the same, in terms of encouraging them to increase communication to deal with this threat and to avoid steps that escalate the tensions. And I’m – I think I’m not going to get into characterising each and every step along the way there. But obviously, what we want to see is increased cooperation against what is a shared common threat for both the countries, and to see steps being taken to deal with it by all sides.”

On a question that whether any high-level calls were made to or from the leadership in Pakistan, Kirby said that he had no such calls to announce.

Meanwhile, the UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon called for urgent de-escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan and an end to violence in the region.

In a meeting with the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Dr Maleeha Lodhi, the Secretary General, said he was saddened by the loss of life of two Pakistani soldiers and he extended condolences to the Government of Pakistan and the family of the deceased.

Briefing him about the escalating situation, Ambassador Lodhi said that India had, by its declarations and actions, created conditions that pose an imminent threat to regional and international peace and security. She also told the Secretary General while India’s claim of carrying out a surgical strike across the Line of Control was false, India had, by its own admission, committed aggression against Pakistan.

She said that India had provoked this crisis to divert international attention away from the indigenous Kashmiri uprising against Indian occupation. “It is, therefore, essential to address the root cause of this crisis – India’s continuing denial of the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people,” she said.

In this regard, she asked the secretary general to play a role in bringing an end to the grave human rights.

Responding to the detailed briefing, the Secretary General repeated his offer of extending his good offices to both countries, which Pakistan has always welcomed but India has consistently declined.

He regretted the fact that UNMOGIP (United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan) was unable to fully function due to India’s non-cooperation. The UN’s military mission is only able to operate on the Pakistani side of the LoC as India refuses to accept its functioning on the other side and opposes its expansion.

Nevertheless, Ambassador Lodhi asked the Secretary General to ensure that UNMOGIP was able to report independently about the facts of the situation on the ground to the Security Council.

Ambassador Lodhi told the Secretary General that Pakistan had exercised maximum restraint but would respond forcefully to any acts of aggression and provocation. She added that the responsibility for the escalating crisis rested entirely on India.

The Secretary General also conveyed his dismay at the cancellation of the Saarc summit saying this could have a good opportunity for dialogue.

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the UNSG that the international community, and especially the United Nations, should not ignore this grave threat to international peace and security with possibly catastrophic consequences for the entire region. She urged the Secretary General to intervene boldly and unequivocally by calling on India to halt its aggressive actions and provocations lest these should lead to an even more dangerous situation. She said that the SG was duty bound to do so under the UN Charter.

She added if India did not heed this call, the UN’s relevant mechanisms, including the Security Council, must be advised of this imminent threat to international peace and security, as required under the UN Charter.

Meanwhile, China once again asked both the countries to solve the disputes through dialogue. Geng Shuang, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, said, “Since India-Pakistan relations were strained, China has been in touch with the two sides, urging them to exercise restraint, strengthen dialogues, and properly settle relevant disputes. China will continue with its efforts to promote peace talks in a proper way in light of the development on the ground.”

China said that India might deploy Rafale fighter aircraft capable of carrying tactical nuclear warheads near disputed regions with Pakistan and China, the Chinese state media said.

It was claimed by the Hindustan Times quoting an article published in the Global Times tabloid.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said that continued crisis between India and Pakistan might lead to regional instability and called on the two sides to exercise restrain, reports IRNA.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is to invite the two neighbouring states of India and Pakistan to observe restrain and avoid resorting to any non-peaceful means, while urging them to resolve their problems through direct negotiations,” he said.

“Mounting tension and continued crisis between the two countries will prepare the ground for extremists, terrorists and their supporters to promote insecurity and instability in the region,” Qasemi said.

He advised the two countries to find a peaceful and rational means in resolving the issue and avoid taking any gushy measures or military use.

“The countries with rich culture and civilisation such as India and Pakistan once again can resolve their disputes through negotiation and understanding with resort to shuttle diplomacy,” Qasemi said.

Their efforts could disappoint the regional and international ill-wishers more than before.