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MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres drawing his attention to the deteriorating security situation in the region resulting from the Indian threat of use of force against Pakistan.

The appeal came a day after Islamabad requested Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman to represent Pakistan’s point of view over the Kashmir issue during his visit to India.

Talking to the media in Multan, the foreign minister said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi should avoid putting regional peace at stake for political point-scoring in the upcoming Indian elections without first investigating the attack on security forces in the Pulwama area of occupied Kashmir.

“I expressed my sympathy with the victims soon after the incident but the Indian government is using its relations with Pakistan as election stunt. The Indian government is creating anti-Pakistan sentiment for the sake of election,” the minister reiterated.

Facing an election by May, Mr Modi has warned Pakistan to expect a “strong response” to the bombing claimed by the banned Jaish-e-Muhammad, raising fears of conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Qureshi advises Modi to avoid putting regional peace at stake for political stunt before polls

He said Pakistan would respond accordingly if India tried to resort to misadventure. “Pakistan knows how to protect its interests. We are in contact with the friendly countries while all diplomatic missions located outside Pakistan have also been directed to convey our point of view to the respective countries,” he said, adding that he wrote to the UN secretary general in this regard as well.

In the letter, the foreign minister said: “It is with a sense of urgency that I draw your attention to the deteriorating security situation in our region resulting from the threat of use of force against Pakistan by India.

“It is imperative to take steps for de-escalation. The United Nations must step in to defuse tensions,” he wrote, blaming India for deliberately ratcheting up its hostile rhetoric for domestic political reasons.

He said some Indian politicians during their election campaign even talked about linking the Indus water treaty with the Pulwama attack despite the fact that an Indian army general said such a huge quantity of explosives substance used in the blast could not have come from outside India.

The foreign minister said New Delhi had admitted that the attacker was Kashmiri.

Mr Qureshi said, “Neither our land had been used for terrorism nor would it be [used in the future]. We are aware that India could cause damage to peace in the region which may lead to loss of human lives.”

He said the Kashmir issue was in cold storage due to the policies of the previous governments, but the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government raised the issue in Europe effectively. “The human rights committee of the United Nations endorsed Pakistan’s point of view regarding Indian aggression in Kashmir,” he added.

The minister further said he would soon call a meeting of senior diplomats in Islamabad to discuss the prevailing situation and a comprehensive policy would be devised with their consultation to maintain regional peace.

About the hearing of Kulbhushan Jadhav case at the international court justice, the foreign minister said: “Such people do not deserve any concession. Pakistan has solid evidence about Kulbhushan Jadhav. He also had confessed to his crime. India wants to shift him to India, but the ICJ will take decision in this regard after hearing both sides.”

Regarding the statement of the Saudi foreign minister on Iran, Mr Qureshi said Saudi Arabia did not express its point of view regarding Iran for the first time. However, he added, he was unable to comment further on the Saudi foreign minister’s statement due to diplomatic ethics. “Pakistan enjoys brotherly relations with both Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iran is a good friend and neighbouring country and there is a history of relations with it,” he said.

As tension prevailed in Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iran, he said, Pakistan would either remain neutral or play the role of a bridge over the conflict between the countries. He added that Pakistan would also play the role of a mediator to resolve the Yemen conflict.

The foreign minister said Pakistan won the investment of $20 billion as a result of the maiden visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. “There is no such credit in account of previous governments. After the Saudi Arabia it is now the turn of the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. Rain of foreign investment is expected in the coming months,” he added.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2019