Trump says ‘reasonably decent’ news coming in from Pakistan, India. Theresa May deeply concerned, both houses of British Parliament discuss the volatile situation, call for control and de-escalation, Saudi FM reaches Islamabad with special message from King Salman
Nation special report
LONDON: All friendly countries including Saudi Arabia, UK, US, China, EU, Germany, France, Australia have geared up their earnest efforts to patch up between India and Pakistan asking both nations to restraint and de-escalate.
In a latest move, the US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that
that there is “reasonably decent” news coming from India and Pakistan. “We have I think reasonably attractive news from Pakistan and India,” said Trump at a news conference in Hanoi.
“They have been going at it. We were involved in trying to have them stop. We have some reasonably decent news. I think hopefully that [conflict] is going to be coming to an end. It’s been going on for a long time.”
On Wednesday, the US and rest of the international community urged Pakistan and India to exercise restraint and refrain from escalating tensions.
The Pentagon has said Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan is focused on de-escalating tensions between India and Pakistan and has urged them both to avoid further military action, a report carried by Reuters said.
However, the Pentagon did not say if Shanahan had spoken with his counterparts from either country.
A Pentagon statement said Shanahan had spoken with senior American military officials about the situation.”Acting Secretary Shanahan’s focus is on de-escalating tensions and urging both of the nations to avoid further military action,” the statement added.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “I also spoke to Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi to underscore the priority of de-escalating current tensions by avoiding military action, and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil,” read the statement from Secretary Pompeo.
Acknowledging Indian actions as “counter-terrorism” action, the US Secretary of State said, “Following Indian counter-terrorism actions on February 26, I spoke with Indian Minister of External Affairs Swaraj to emphasize our close security partnership and shared the goal of maintaining peace and security in the region,” read the statement.
“I expressed to both the Ministers that we encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and avoid escalation at any cost. I also encouraged both Ministers to prioritize direct communication and avoid any further military activity,” it read.
Britain has shown substantial concern over the tension between Pakistan and India especially following the Pulwama attack and latest air combat on Wednesday. Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday expressed “deep concern” over rising tensions between India and Pakistan and called for restraint and de-escalation by the two countries.
Opening the Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons, she said her government has been monitoring developments closely.
She said the UK was in contact with both countries and was urging dialogue and diplomatic solutions to ensure regional stability.
“We are working closely with international partners including through the UN Security Council to de-escalate tensions.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded by hoping that tensions between the two countries can be eased and that no further lives are lost. The Pulwama attack figured in the House of Commons on Tuesday, when Conservative leader Bob Blackman wanted an official “clear and unreserved condemnation” of the attack in which 40 CRPF men were killed, and a call on Pakistan to stop funding terror groups.
Foreign Office minister Mark Field responded: “The UK Government unequivocally condemn the appalling terror attack in Pulwama on 14 February. We are actively encouraging the Governments of both India and Pakistan to find diplomatic solutions and to refrain from actions that could jeopardise regional stability. We are also working in the UN Security Council to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice,” he added.
Officials said London has been in close contact at senior levels in India and Pakistan, besides taking steps to promote international efforts to avoid escalation. They added that British representatives have been working with UN Security Council members on listing Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar under UN Resolution 1267 that imposes individual targeted sanctions such as assets freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo.
Britain banned Jaish-e-Mohammed in March 2001 and its splinter group Khuddam Ul-Islam in October 2005 on the ground that both outfits seek the “liberation” of Jammu and Kashmir from Indian control as well as the “destruction” of America and India.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday spoke to her counterparts in the US, China, Singapore, Bangladesh and Afghanistan over the pre-dawn air strikes carried out at the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camp in Pakistan, sources said.
Swaraj spoke to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, Singaporean foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani and Bangladeshi foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, they said.
In the all-party meeting today, Swaraj informed the leaders that she spoke to Pompeo over the air strikes at the JeM terror camp in Balakot, sources further said.
“I am happy that people across parties lauded the Indian Air Force for their operation and have also ensured their support to the government in all anti-terror operations,” Swaraj told ANI after the meeting.
Following the air strikes, the foreign secretary briefed the diplomats including those from the US, UK, Russia, Australia, Indonesia, Turkey and six ASEAN nations.
“We want to congratulate the Indian government for quickly briefing us. The message was a direct one. It was a non-military preemptive strike. India wanted to target terrorists and not civilians. India behaved responsibly,” said Hans Dannenberg Castellanos, Dean of Diplomatic Corps in India after meeting Gokhale.
After India launched air strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camp in Pakistan, China on Tuesday urged New Delhi and Islamabad to “exercise restraint” and avoid further provocations.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that tackling terrorism is a global issue which required active international cooperation and all the countries need to maintain cordial relations in the long-run.
“We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and adopt actions that will help stabilise the situation in the region and improve mutual relations,” said Lu Kang, Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
“I want to say that combating terrorism is a global issue and a global challenge. It requires cooperation between countries. To ensure necessary international cooperation in this regard, we should create the favourable conditions and atmosphere for that cooperation,” he said.
France on Tuesday said it stands with India in the fight against terror and asked both India and Pakistan to exercise restraint to avert any risk of military escalation and preserve strategic stability in the region.
It also asked Pakistan to put an end to operations of terror groups in the country, while recognising India’s legitimacy to ensure its security against cross-border terrorism.
“France, which stands by India in the fight against terrorism in all its forms, is fully engaged in mobilising the international community to sanction the terrorists responsible for this attack and freezing their financing networks,” acting spokesperson of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs said in a statement. It further asked both “India and Pakistan to exercise restraint so as to avert any risk of military escalation and preserve strategic stability in the region.”
Australia on Tuesday in a strongly worded statement demanded that Pakistan take “urgent and meaningful action” against terrorist groups operating in Pakistan, including Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT).
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that “Pakistan should take urgent and meaningful action against terrorist groups in its territory, including JeM which has claimed responsibility for the February 14 bombing, and Lashkar-e-Taiba.”
“Pakistan must do everything possible to implement its own proscription of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). It can no longer allow extremist groups the legal and physical space to operate from its territory,” Payne said in a statement.
“These steps would make a substantial contribution to easing tensions and resolving the underlying causes of conflict,” the Australian foreign minister Payne said.
EU, Germany’s reaction
The European Union and Germany on Monday called on Pakistan and India “to sort out differences” through dialogues. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi talked over the phone with his German counterpart Heiko Maas, reports Radio Pakistan.
“The European Union’s policy has always been to promote a dialogue between Pakistan and India to sort out differences,” said Mogherini who is also a European Union Representative for Foreign Relations and Security Policy.
Indicating that action against Pakistan-sponsored terror organisations should be taken, Mogherini said: “There is a need for continue addressing terrorism including clear and sustained actions targeting not only all United Nations-listed transnational terrorist groups but also individuals claiming responsibility for such attacks.”
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Thursday strongly condemned the “heinous and cowardly” Pulwama suicide terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed and asked all countries to cooperate with India in its efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism.
“The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir, which resulted in over 40 Indian paramilitary forces dead and dozens wounded on February 14, 2019, for which Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility,” said UNSC in a press statement.
Urging all the states to take action, UNSC underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice. UNSC further asked all the countries to cooperate actively with the Indian Government and all other relevant authorities in this regard.