Beijing played 'constructive' role in de-escalation between Pakistan and India, says Chinese FM

Updated March 09, 2019

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"China has stressed from the beginning the need to exercise calm and restraint," says Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. — AP/File
"China has stressed from the beginning the need to exercise calm and restraint," says Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. — AP/File

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday told media persons that Beijing had played a "constructive" role in de-escalating tensions between Pakistan and India, which had spiked following a suicide attack in occupied Kashmir's Pulwama district last month, South China Morning Post reported.

In a press briefing held on the sidelines of the annual National People’s Congress legislative meeting, Yi said: "China has stressed from the beginning the need to exercise calm and restraint, prevent an escalation, find out what has happened, and resolve the matter through dialogue."

He expressed hope that India and Pakistan — the latter described as China's "iron brother" by Yi — would be able to "transform the crisis into an opportunity and meet each other halfway".

Yi's remarks came two days after Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that "private diplomacy" by the United States and efforts from other friendly countries including China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the UAE, Turkey and Jordan had prevented all out war between India and Pakistan, which had at one point seemed imminent.

In his press briefing, Yi urged both nuclear-armed neighbours to engage in dialogue in order to resolve conflicts.

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“We can create a better future through cooperation, when confrontation gives way to dialogue and disagreements are settled by goodwill.”

India had blamed Pakistan for the Pulwama attack, which was carried out by a Kashmiri youth and was claimed by Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), a group that has been proscribed in Pakistan since 2002.

The accusation was vehemently rejected by Islamabad but Prime Minister Imran Khan, in order to prevent a confrontation, promised that if India shared "actionable evidence", Pakistan would investigate it.

The situation became tense after India violated Pakistani airspace last week and claimed to have "struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot" in which "a large number of JeM terrorists were killed".

The Indian jets were chased away after "Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled" and released their "payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot", Inter-Services Public Relations had said. The 'payload' had fallen in a forest and felled a few trees and injured an elderly resident of the area.

Pakistan responded the next day by striking non-military targets on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC). Two Indian jets, which had violated Pakistan's airspace, were shot down and an Indian pilot was captured. He was released two days later by the Pakistani authorities as a "gesture of goodwill".

Though the tense situation has since simmered down, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is looking for a re-election in the upcoming polls in April, continues to use anti-Pakistan rhetoric to appeal to his voter base.

UN chief is monitoring situation

The situation between Pakistan and India is also under the observation of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, his spokesperson told reporters in New York.

According to Kashmir Media Service, Guterres' spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that the UN chief's offices are "available to [both] parties".

"The secretary general and members of his staff are in touch […] have been in touch with the parties at various levels. We continually monitor the situation and (are) available to the parties,” he said.