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US Secretary of State emphasised for immediate action against terrorists

13 March, 2019

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WASHINGTON: The United States is urging Pakistan to see the “urgency” of taking action against “terrorists” as the UN Security Council takes up a resolution declaring Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist.

US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo emphasised the need for an immediate action against terrorists at a meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale in Washington on Monday, the State Department said. The UN Security Council (UNSC) is expected to take up a resolution on March 13 that seeks to declare the JeM chief a global terrorist. But China, which has vetoed similar moves in the past, reminded the UNSC on Monday that “a responsible solution” can come only through discussions.

China urged the international community to also focus on the Kashmir dispute while demanding such issues. “China’s position on the designation of a terrorist by the 1267 Sanctions Committee is consistent and clear,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang when asked about China’s stand on the issue.

“China adopted a responsible attitude, followed the rules of the procedure of the committee and participated in the discussions in a responsible manner. Only through discussions can we come up with a responsible solution,” he said.

Diplomatic sources in Washington said that the United States, which jointly moved the resolution along with Britain and France, wants the UNSC to adopt the resolution this time. Besides asking China not to veto the move, Washington is also using its influence in Pakistan to soften its opposition, the sources added.

As Secretary Pompeo met his Indian counterpart in Washington, US National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke telephonically with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday to discuss this and other issues with him.

After the telephone call, Mr Bolton released a brief message on Twitter, which includes the points Secretary Pompeo discussed with the Indian foreign secretary.

“Spoke with Pakistani FM Qureshi to encourage meaningful steps against JeM and other terrorist groups operating from Pakistan,” he tweeted Monday afternoon.

“The FM assured me that Pakistan would deal firmly with all terrorists and will continue steps to de-escalate tensions with India,” he wrote.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office also issued a statement on Monday which said that Mr Qureshi informed Mr Bolton that the Indian aggression of Feb 26 was a violation of Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty as well as the UN Charter. “Pakistan’s response was purely in self-defence against external aggression,” he said.

A simmering conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir had escalated into a potentially dangerous confrontation when Indian planes violated Pakistani airspace on Feb 26. Next day Pakistan and India were involved in an aerial dogfight and Indian fighter pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan. Some days later Pakistan had him returned as a goodwill gesture and to defuse the crisis.

FM Qureshi also underlined measures Pakistan had taken to defuse tensions, including the decision to release the Indian pilot. “Pakistan wishes peace and stability in the region,” he said, pointing out that last week, Islamabad sent its envoy back to New Delhi and was sending an official delegation to India this week to discuss the reopening of the Kartarpur corridor.

The Kartarpur corridor is about 120km north of Lahore and will be used by Sikh pilgrims coming from India on a visa-free basis to visit their holy sites in Pakistan.

Pakistan was also ready to continue weekly contacts at the Military Operations Directorate level, he added. The Military Operations Directorate is part of both Indian and Pakistan armies and headed by the Director General Military Operations (DGMO).

Mr Bolton appreciated Pakistan’s measures, which helped defuse the crisis and urged continued restraint on both sides, the Foreign Office said.

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