ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday called for de-escalation of tension on the Line of Control (LoC) and sought United Nations help for resolving the Kashmir dispute.
Pakistan “hopes that steps will be taken by India to help reduce tensions. We have to defuse tension and de-escalate the situation. Our objective is peace,” Mr Sharif said after talks with visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Mr Sharif’s call for defusing tensions came amidst fresh attacks by Indian troops on Pakistani posts and populated areas in which one civilian was killed.
Indian troops have been regularly targeting Pakistani posts since an ambush on its patrol on Aug 6 in which five of its troops were killed.
Mr Sharif said both he and Mr Ban were concerned about the situation on the LoC.
Pakistan, the prime minister said, would continue to respond to the situation with “restraint and responsibility”.
He noted that it was his government’s “endeavour to explore all avenues to ease tension with India, start dialogue, address outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, and promote trade and commerce”.
The United States and some other countries have been working with both Pakistan and Indian governments to defuse the situation, but Mr Sharif said more diplomacy was needed.
The Indian government has hinted that it would further delay the resumption of secretary-level talks that were expected later this month. The talks have not been held since January because of similar incidents on the LoC at the beginning of this year.
Prime Minister Sharif is scheduled to meet his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh next month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.
The Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Mr Sharif recalled, was the longest out-standing issue on the UN agenda, asking the global body to play its role in getting it resolved.
Before embarking on his two-day trip to the country, Secretary General Ban had offered mediation on the Kashmir dispute provided Pakistan and India agreed to it.
During their meeting, Mr Sharif and Mr Ban discussed the war in Afghanistan and initiatives for bringing peace and stability to that country.
Mr Sharif sought UN help for countering terrorism in Pakistan, but did not elaborate what help he was asking for.
“I have also discussed with the secretary general ways to combat terrorism. In this regard, we would also like to harness the United Nations’ strengths,” he said.
Accepting Mr Sharif’s request of help, Mr Ban said: “I assured the prime minister that the UN will continue to support Pakistan in this fight.”
Mr Ban mentioned a donation of $100 billion by Saudi Arabia for UN’s counter-terrorism efforts.
The secretary general, who at the start of his trip had asked Pakistan to build bridges with its neighbours, said he would welcome all efforts by Pakistan to strengthen relations with its neighbours.
PRESIDENT ZARDARI: Secretary General Ban met President Asif Ali Zardari at a dinner the latter hosted for him.
MEETING WITH COAS CANCELLED: Mr Ban was scheduled to meet Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in the evening, but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute.
A military spokesman said the army chief was unable to return to Rawalpindi from Kakul, some 100km north of Islamabad, due to heavy rain.