Crisis management cell set up amid rising tensions with India

Updated February 24, 2019

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FM speaks to his counterparts in Sri Lanka, Nepal on regional situation; writes letter to UN official.— AFP/File
FM speaks to his counterparts in Sri Lanka, Nepal on regional situation; writes letter to UN official.— AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Saturday set up a crisis management cell in view of the heightened tensions with India in the aftermath of the Pulwama incident.

An official at the FO spokesman’s office confirmed to Dawn that the cell had been set up to follow the fast developing situation.

Tensions between Pakistan and India have sharply spiked since last week’s attack on Central Reserve Police Force in Indian-Occupied Kashmir in which 44 security personnel were killed. Hostile statements by Indian leaders and provocative reporting by Indian media have added to the already tense environment. Besides the war hysteria, India has initiated non-kinetic punitive measures against Pakistan and removed the Most Favoured Nation trade tag for Pakistan and lobbied to retain Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list.

The National Security Committee in its recent meeting authorised the armed forces to respond to any Indian misadventure. Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa also visited Line of Control to review the preparedness and morale of troops.

FM speaks to his counterparts in Sri Lanka, Nepal on regional situation; writes letter to UN official

The situation has concerned the international community and United States President Donald Trump has characterised it as “very dangerous”. The US and other influential countries are reportedly trying behind the scenes to defuse the situation.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has, meanwhile, initiated regional outreach to sensitise Saarc countries about the seriousness of the situation. The foreign minister on Saturday spoke to his Sri Lankan and Nepalese counterparts emphasising Pakistan’s desire for peace in the region.

Speaking to Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana on security situation in the region, Mr Qureshi said: “Pakistan is a responsible country which desires peace and stability in the region. Peace is a precursor for socio-economic benefits and prosperity”.

Mr Marapana said that his country staunchly supported peace in the region and stressed that maintaining stability in South Asia should be a priority for all countries.

Talking to Nepalese FM Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Mr Qureshi urged him to play his role as the chair of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).

The Nepalese foreign minister said that peace and security of the region was a primary responsibility of all. Nepal as a member of Saarc and friend of Pakistan firmly believed that peace was in the interest of everyone, he added.

In a letter to the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Mr Qureshi said that the Indian government chose to immediately externalise blame for the Pulwama attack, without investigation, to divert global attention from continuing grave human rights and international humanitarian law violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir and branding those seeking to safeguard their legitimate political and human rights, including the right to self-determination, as “terrorists”.

He drew the UN official’s attention to the aggravating human rights situation after the Pulwama incident wherein a concerted campaign had been launched to whip up hatred and violence against the Kashmiris and discrimination against them across India. He said that the Indian government was leveraging this tragedy for gains in the coming general elections, and in that process, it was constricting space for a political dialogue and negotiations with both the Kashmiris and Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2019