EU, Germany join calls for Pakistan to act on terror

Panic mode:People waiting at a petrol station in Srinagar on Monday. The Valley is facingfuel shortage in the wake of the current tension.NISSAR AHMADNISSAR AHMAD  

Calling on Pakistan to take “clear and sustainable” actions against terror groups including those who have taken responsibility for the Pulwama attack, the European Union joined a number of international entities attempting to defuse tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad over the weekend.

In a telephone call with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday, EU Vice-President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini “stressed the urgency to de-escalate the situation and confirmed that the European Union is also in contact with Indian counterparts,” an EU statement released on Monday said.

Pushing dialogue

“The European Union’s policy has always been to promote a dialogue between Pakistan and India to sort out differences… [Pakistan] needs to continue addressing terrorism including clear and sustained actions targeting not only all UN-listed terrorist groups but also individuals claiming responsibility for such attacks,” the statement said.

In another call on Sunday, details of which were released on Monday, Mr. Qureshi called German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to discuss Pakistan’s concerns with tensions post-Pulwama. “FM Heiko Maas … appealed to both sides to work to de-escalate the situation. Specifically, Pakistan resolutely needs to put a stop to cross-border terrorism,” the German Foreign Ministry said.

The statements shared a sharp tone in telling Pakistan to act against the Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other banned groups, something welcomed by External Affairs Ministry officials.

However, the Ministry did not respond to questions on the flurry of calls for “de-escalation”, or any hint of mediation by other countries, seen as interference in India’s bilateral affairs.

Swaraj visit

Mr. Qureshi spoke to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday, in a conversation just ahead of Mr. Wang’s meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj when she travels to Shanghai and Wuzhen on Tuesday for the Russia-India-China trilateral.

“State Councillor Wang Yi … agreed that the unfolding regional situation was serious with implications for peace and security of the region,” said a statement issued by the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed that Washington was “talking” to both India and Pakistan. Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Adel-Al Jubeir, who accompanied Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to the region last week, had said their objective was “to de-escalate tensions between the two countries”.

The series of calls by Mr. Qureshi followed a statement by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, where he climbed down from his previous statement on retaliating with force to any attack from India. Mr. Khan said Pakistan would investigate on the basis of any evidence shared by India on the group responsible for the Pulwama attack, but linked the escalation post-Pulwama to “elections in India”.

“PM Modi should give peace a chance,” Mr. Khan said.

The Ministry did not respond to Mr. Khan’s statement on Monday.