UN urges India, Pakistan to take immediate steps to defuse tensions

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 20: 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.

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.

In this regard, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said: “We are deeply concerned at the increasing tensions between the two countries.”

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,” Dujarric said.

On the other hand, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi appealed to Guterres to step in to defuse tensions. “It is imperative to take steps for de-escalation.

“The United Nations must step in to defuse tensions,” he wrote in the letter sent Monday. However, Qureshi underscored that “attributing [the attack] to Pakistan even before investigations is absurd.”

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

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

Separately, China, a neighbour to both the South Asian nations, has advised India to choose talks rather than to continue with the ongoing tensions.

A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry commented that Pakistan and India were both important states in South Asia and peace between the two was crucial for regional stability.

China hoped that the countries show patience and opt for talks, the spokesperson added.

In addition, the United States condemned the Pulwama attack, State Department’s deputy spokesperson, Robert J. Palladino, said, adding that the Western nation was in contact with both the countries.

Palladino said Pakistan should offer complete assistance to India in the probe, and that if anyone was found responsible, they should be punished accordingly.

Palladino also expressed complete solidarity for India in face of the terrorism.

Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, also met with Guterres and the Security Council (UNSC) president to appeal for action, warning that a flare-up in Kashmir could undermine peace efforts in Afghanistan.

“The escalation in the subcontinent poses a threat to prospects for peace in Afghanistan,” Lodhi told AFP.

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

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