UN urges India, Pakistan to defuse tensions

UN urges India, Pakistan to defuse tensions
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United Nations, Feb 20: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on India and Pakistan to exercise “maximum restraint” and offered to mediate in the face of rising tensions following the attack at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 49 CRPF troopers.
Guterres, through a spokesman, said that the UN is deeply concerned about the situation while offering to mediate if the two parties request it.
The head of the UN received on Wednesday the Pakistani ambassador, Maleeha Lodhi, whose government has asked the organization to intervene in the current crisis.
For now, Guterres calls on both sides to “exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps” to defuse the tension, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
The historic tensions between the two nuclear nations skyrocketed in recent days after New Delhi accused Islamabad of supporting the militant group that killed 49 CRPF troopers in a suicide bombing with a vehicle loaded with explosives on February 14, the worst attack in the region in 30 years.
In addition, nine people, including four soldiers and a cop, were killed in a gunfight in Pulwama on February 18.
Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), said in Geneva that the UN was also saddened by the further loss of life reported from the gun battles in Pulwama on February 18.
“We hope escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours will not add further to the insecurity in the region” he said.
Colville said the High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, is also concerned about reports from India that some elements are using the Pulwama attack as justification for threats and potential acts of violence targeting Kashmiri and Muslim communities living in different parts of India.
“We acknowledge actions taken by the Indian authorities to tackle these incidents and we hope that the Government will continue to take steps to protect people from all forms of harm that may be directed at them on account of their ethnicity or identity,” he stressed.
Following the February 14 attack, India announced that it will take all possible diplomatic measures to isolate Pakistan from the international community.
As a first step, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that his country had withdrawn Pakistan’s “most-favoured-nation” economic status and raised taxes on Pakistani imports by 200 per cent.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned India on Tuesday that his country would respond if attacked, a statement that was immediately condemned by the neighbouring country.