Tense situation with India not fully abated yet: FO

Updated 29 Mar 2019

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"Complete de-escalation has not taken place so far," says Dr Mohammad Faisal. — Photo courtesy: Dr Mohammad Faisal's Twitter account
"Complete de-escalation has not taken place so far," says Dr Mohammad Faisal. — Photo courtesy: Dr Mohammad Faisal's Twitter account

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday said that the ‘tense situation’ with India had not fully de-escalated yet.

FO spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal, in response to a question at the weekly media briefing, said: “Complete de-escalation has not taken place so far.”

Pakistan and India had, after the events of Feb 26 and 27, moved to de-escalate the situation. Pakistan led the way by releasing apprehended Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, whose MiG-21 intruded into Pakistani airspace. Later, on March 5, Pakistan announced the return of its High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood to New Delhi and its intention to initiate negotiations on the Kartarpur Corridor Agreement. India reciprocated by returning its envoy to Islamabad and later hosting Kartarpur Corridor talks.

However, the air forces and armies of both countries remain operationally deployed.

Air forces and armies of both countries continue to remain operationally deployed

Islamabad has, meanwhile, responded to Delhi’s dossier on the Pulwama incident (killings that sparked the recent military standoff between the two countries), telling the latter that nothing could be found linking Pakistan to the attack. While investigating the information given by India, Pakistan authorities took into custody 54 of the 90 suspects identified in the dossier handed over by its neighbour.

“The remaining Pakistanis mentioned in the Indian paper could not be identified as there are no details, like CNIC number, mobile number, residential address etc. It is hard to find a person only with a name. Fifty-four Pakistanis were identified, who are being investigated. No links connecting them to Pulwama have been found,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, at an Islamabad briefing for the diplomatic corps on Pakistan’s response to the Pulwama dossier, it was said that the involvement of any individual could, at this stage, neither be confirmed nor denied. Additionally, it was said that more details had been sought from India and the service providers — WhatsApp and Telegram.

Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar’s name is not on the list of suspects provided by India although the group claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack and India had been pushing that Azhar’s name be put on the UN Security Council terrorist list.

“Regarding the name of Maulana Masood Azhar being mentioned, the dossier does not claim any linkage of Maulana Masood Azhar with the Pulwama incident,” said Dr Faisal on Thursday.

Responding to a question about a fresh resolution tabled in the Security Council regarding Azhar, the FO spokesperson said: “Listing is purely a technical issue and the appropriate forum to address this is the UN Security Council’s 1267 Sanctions Committee. We regret that the resolution has been tabled in the UN Security Council, at a time when the matter is already under consideration by the 1267 Sanctions Committee.”

He further noted that moving the resolution in the UNSC would “only circumvent the established process and weaken the 1267 Sanctions Committee regime. […]. Any action outside the committee will undermine the integrity of the sanctions’ regime and must be avoided.”

Dr Faisal added that Pakistan wanted to “amicably resolve this issue” in the 1267 Committee through consultations.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2019