New Delhi’s blame game threatens regional peace, UN chief told

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Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr Maleeha Lodhi called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday, Radio Pakistan reported.

She briefed the UN chief on the situation in occupied Kashmir and urged him to play a role in helping reduce tensions. She told Guterres that India’s decision to hurl baseless and unverified accusations against Pakistan was threatening regional stability.

Lodhi also called on UN Security Council President Anatolio Ndong Mba and briefed him on the regional situation.

She informed him about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address in which he offered to act upon any ‘actionable evidence’ that New Delhi could provide.

A day earlier, the UN secretary general 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.

Islamabad and New Delhi have been locked in a diplomatic clash following a suicide attack on February 14 in occupied Kashmir that killed 40 Indian security personnel.

“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 banned militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), 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.

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