Delhi politely turns down China's mediation offer

Delhi politely turns down China's mediation offer

Kong Xuanyou

China's offer to send a special envoy to India and Pakistan to help de-escalate tension between the two South-Asian neighbours got a cold-shoulder from New Delhi.

China informally offered to send its Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou as a “special envoy” to both New Delhi and Islamabad to discuss ways to ease tension between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the terror attack at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14. New Delhi is understood to have politely turned down Beijing's offer, as it was reluctant to allow China to play a role of mediator to diffuse India-Pakistan tension.

Kong was on a visit to Islamabad on Tuesday and Wednesday. He returned to Beijing without visiting New Delhi.

India has all along been opposing the role of any third country in resolving its disputes with Pakistan.

New Delhi maintains that the Simla Agreement in 1972 signed by India Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then prime ministers of India and Pakistan, had left no scope for any third party to get involved in the process to resolve the disputes between the two nations. The principle of the Simla Agreement had again been reaffirmed by the Lahore Declaration, which was inked in 1999.

New Delhi, according to the diplomatic sources, made it clear to Beijing that it would not be possible for it to host the Vice Foreign Minister of Chinese Government “at this point of time”.

Kong called on Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during his stay in Islamabad. He also met Chief of Pakistan Army Gen Qamar J Bajwa, apart from holding talks with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.

A press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Government said that both Pakistan and China had reaffirmed their "time-tested and all-weather strategic cooperative partnership". China's Vice Foreign Minister was briefed on Pakistan's efforts to resolve all issues with India through dialogue. Kong reiterated China's support to Pakistan for peace and stability in the region. He also acknowledged Pakistan Government's measures against terrorism, a spokesperson of the MoFA of Pakistan Government said.

The tension between India and Pakistan escalated over the past three weeks after a suicide bombing by the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14 that killed over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. India carried out an air-strike on the JeM camp at Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan on February 26. Pakistan's fighter aircraft intruded into the airspace of India on February 27 and launched missiles targeting military installations in India.

The US, UK, France and Russia – four of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – as well as several other nations joined India to ask Pakistan to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in its territory as well as to ensure that neither the JeM, nor any other terror organization could use its territory to launch attack on India.

China, which is also a permanent member of the UNSC, is the only country that endorsed its “all-weather ally” Pakistan's credential in fighting terrorism. During a meeting with his Russian and Indian counterparts, Sergey Lavrov and Sushma Swaraj, on the sideline of a RIC (Russia-India-China) meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Pakistan had all along been opposed to terrorism. A spokesperson of the Chinese Government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday said that the international community should accord Pakistan objective assessment and recognition.

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