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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

After Balakot, UK says concerned by rising India-Pakistan tensions

The Theresa May government on Tuesday said it is “concerned” by rising tensions between India and Pakistan after the airstrike by the Indian Air Force in Balakot, urging both countries to avoid risk to regional stability.

world Updated: Feb 26, 2019 23:36 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers standing guard during a night patrol near the fence at the India-Pakistan International Border at the outpost of Akhnoor sector, about 40 km from Jammu. Image for representation.
Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers standing guard during a night patrol near the fence at the India-Pakistan International Border at the outpost of Akhnoor sector, about 40 km from Jammu. Image for representation.(Photo: Nitin Kanotra / Hindustan Times)
         

The Theresa May government on Tuesday said it is “concerned” by rising tensions between India and Pakistan after the airstrike by the Indian Air Force in Balakot, urging both countries to avoid risk to regional stability.

Before the airstrike, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt on Monday spoke to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistani minister of foreign affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and “strongly condemned” the attack in Pulwama on February 14.

Responding to the airstrike on Tuesday, a Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are concerned by rising tensions. We are encouraging both sides to avoid taking action that will pose a risk to regional stability”.

“The UK is working closely with international partners, including in the United Nations Security Council, to ensure that those responsible for the Pulwama attack are held to account.”

British officials have been in “close contact” at senior levels in New Delhi and Islamabad, besides taking steps to promote international efforts to avoid escalation.

Also read | Heavy firing by Pakistan along LoC, Army strongly retaliates

London is also working with UN security council members on the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar under UN Resolution 1267 that imposes individual targeted sanctions such as assets freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo

During talks with Swaraj and Qureshi, official sources said Hunt highlighted concern about the enduring threat to regional stability from terrorism, and encouraged Pakistan and India to improve cooperation and find diplomatic solutions for greater stability and trust in the region.

The spokesperson said: “The Foreign Secretary reiterated the UK’s commitment to working with both India and Pakistan, as well as international partners at the UN, to ensure that those responsible for the attack are held to account”.

Also read | At all-party meet over IAF strike, oppn extends full support to govt

The Pulwama attack also figured in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Bob Blackman (Conservative) wanted a “clear and unreserved condemnation” on the attack in which 40 CRPF men were killed, and a call on Pakistan to stop funding terror groups.

Foreign Office minister Mark Field responded: “The UK government unequivocally condemn the appalling terror attack in Pulwama on 14 February. We are actively encouraging the governments of both India and Pakistan to find diplomatic solutions and to refrain from actions that could jeopardise regional stability.”

“We are also working in the UN Security Council to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice,” he added.

First Published: Feb 26, 2019 19:10 IST

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