Take steps to defuse tensions | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 21, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, February 21, 2019

KASHMIR TERROR ATTACK

Take steps to defuse tensions

UN chief urges India, Pakistan, offers help to broker solution

  • Trump condemns attack, urges India, Pakistan to 'get along'
  • France, Britain and US in new push to place JeM leader on UN terror list

 

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on India and Pakistan to take immediate steps to defuse tensions and offered to help broker a solution if both sides agree.

The two countries have been locked in a diplomatic clash following a suicide attack on February 14 in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian security personnel, triggering counter-operations by Indian forces in the area.

"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-escalate, while also offering to mediate "should both sides ask," said Dujarric.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi appealed to Guterres to step in to defuse tensions, in a letter seen by AFP.

The attack was claimed by Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump Tuesday condemned the Pulwama terrorist attack as "horrible situation". Trump told reporters at the Oval Office of White House that it would be "wonderful" if the two South Asia neighbours get along.

Following the terrorist attack, his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, has supported India's right to self-defense.

Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Bolton, and the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in separate statements have asked Pakistan to immediately take action against the JeM and its leaders and end support to terrorist safe haven.

In response to the rising tensions, France, Britain and the United States were 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.

China has twice blocked -- in 2016 and 2017 -- attempts to put the JeM leader on the blacklist. The group itself was added to the terror list in 2001.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947. Both countries claim the former Himalayan kingdom in full and have fought two wars over it.

India has long accused Pakistan of harboring militants who launch attacks on its soil.

Pakistan's UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi met with Guterres and with the president of the Security Council to appeal for action, warning that a flareup in Kashmir could undermine peace efforts in Afghanistan.

The United States is holding talks with the Taliban on ending 17 years of war.

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