Indo-Asian News Service
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is having discussions “at different levels with different parties” about the tense India-Pakistan situation, his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday.
He refused to say who those parties were or the levels of contact but said the discussions were “to make sure that we have, we get a full picture” of the situation.
“The message coming out of those discussions is on the need for both countries to do whatever they can to de-escalate the situation,” he said.
Guterres is “kept appraised of the situation” and is following it, Dujarric added.
Asked if the discussions were mediation efforts, he replied, “I have said what I have to say.” When pressed further, he said, “I’ll let you characterise it.”
He also reiterated that Guterres’s good offices were available if they were requested by both parties.
India has said that its Air Force chased away intruding Pakistani fighter jets in Kashmir, shooting down an F-16 that fell on the Pakistani-controlled side, while an Indian MiG-21 was lost in action.
Pakistan said it had shot down the plane, which crashed in its territory, and displayed an Indian Air Force pilot it had captured.
On Tuesday, Indian Air Force bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) training camp in Balakot in Pakistan, 12 days after a suicide bomber killed more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers.
Imran Khan again offers talks
Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday again invited India for talks and urged that “better sense should prevail” amid escalating tensions between the two neighbours.
Khan’s comments came after an aerial engagement between the Indian air force (IAF) and the Pakistan air force (PAF) in which New Delhi said it shot down a Pakistan fighter jet but lost one of its MiG-21s, with its pilot reportedly in Pakistani custody.
Khan said in an address to the nation: “I wanted to take you into confidence regarding the situation arising since yesterday. After the Pulwama incident, we offered India to cooperate in the probe. We know they suffered casualties. We offered India that we would investigate. We wanted to cooperate and were ready to do so. I feared that India would still take action and I had therefore warned India against aggression”.
“When India stuck yesterday morning we spoke to our army command and waited to take action till we assessed the damage caused. Our action was only intended to convey that if you can come into our country, we can do the same. Two of their MiGs were shot down… From here, it is imperative that we use our heads and act with wisdom,” he said.
“All wars are miscalculated, and no one knows where they lead to. World War I was supposed to end in weeks, it took six years. Similarly, the war on terrorism was not supposed to last 17 years. I ask India: with the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford a miscalculation? If this escalates, it will no longer be in my control or in Modi’s”.
“We understand the grief that you have suffered in Pulwama and are ready for a probe and dialogue. Let’s sit together and settle this with talks,” Khan added.
Meanwhile Pakistan Wednesday summoned India’s acting high commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia and condemned the “unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian forces along the Line of Control which resulted in the killing of four civilians”.
Director general (South Asia and SAARC) Mohammad Faisal, who is also the foreign ministry spokesman, summoned Ahluwalia and “condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian forces along the Line of Control,” the foreign office (FO) said in a statement.
Faisal urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 ceasefire arrangement; investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC and the working boundary, the statement said.
He also said that the Indian side should permit UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to play its mandated role as per the UN Security Council resolutions.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that his country does not want a war and asked India to come to the table to resolve all outstanding issues.
“Today’s strike demonstrates our right, will and capability to defend ourselves. We do not want war. We hope India will come to the table to resolve all outstanding issues,” Qureshi said.
Indo-Asian News Service