UN chief asks India, Pak to exercise 'maximum restraint' and take steps to defuse tensions By Yoshita Singh

UN chief asks India, Pak to exercise
Highlights

UN chief Antonio Guterres has called on India and Pakistan to exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps to deescalate tensions following the Pulwama terror attack, reiterating that his good offices are available if asked by both sides

United Nations: UN chief Antonio Guterres has called on India and Pakistan to exercise "maximum restraint" and take "immediate steps” to de-escalate tensions following the Pulwama terror attack, reiterating that his good offices are available if asked by both sides. The already sour relations between India and Pakistan have worsened over the past week as New Delhi blamed Islamabad for the Pulwama attack by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

Both countries have called back their envoys for "consultations." “The Secretary General stresses the importance for both sides to exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps to de-escalation, and his good offices are always available should both sides ask,” the UN Secretary General's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters here Tuesday at the daily press briefing. Dujarric was asked about a meeting Pakistan's Permanent Mission to the UN has sought with the Secretary General and also about Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi saying the UN must step in to defuse tensions between the two nations. "...Looking at the situation in general between India and Pakistan, we're deeply concerned at the increase in tensions between the two countries in the wake of the attack on Indian security personnel on 14 February in Pulwama," Dujrraic said.

He said Pakistan's mission at the UN requested for the meeting with the Secretary General. "We've seen press reports of a letter having been delivered to the UN. As far as we've ascertained, none has been received as of this very minute," he added. In a separate issue, Dujjaric said that in response to questions on a recent incident involving the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, known as UNMOGIP, the observer group reported on February 16 that a UN vehicle in the city of Jammu was surrounded by a group of protesters who placed a Pakistan flag in front of the vehicle.

“The vehicle attempted to bypass the flag but was unable to do so. The Mission has informed both Indian and Pakistani authorities of this regrettable and unavoidable circumstances of the incident. The Mission also requested India to provide additional escorts and will be conducting an investigation,” he said. India maintains that UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and is irrelevant after the Simla Agreement and the consequent establishment of the Line of Control. Last week, Guterres had "strongly" condemned the terror attack against security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, perpetrated by Jaish-e-Mohammed, calling for those behind the attack to be brought to justice.

"We strongly condemn today's attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district and express our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and to the Government and people of India," Dujarric had said at the daily press briefing last Thursday. Responding to a question by PTI on the terror attack, Dujarric said, "We of course wish a speedy recovery to those injured and call for those behind the attack to be brought to justice."

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