UK in ‘feverish’ talks at UN on Masood Azhar, tense Indo-Pak situation

Britain is engaged in ‘feverish’ talks at the United Nations on efforts to calm tensions between India and Pakistan, besides joining France and the United States in a bid to list Jaish-e-Mohammad founder Masood Azhar as a terrorist under the Security Council Resolution 1267.
Mark Field, Foreign Office minister, who left for India on Thursday, told the House of Commons that diplomatic, military and other channels were being worked to help de-escalate the tense situation between the two countries.
Several MPs with large Indian and Pakistani diaspora joined a lengthy debate in the House of Commons, after Prime Minister Theresa May expressed deep concern.
Field said “feverish conversations” were taking place at the United Nations over the situation. “It is a fluid situation and therefore, I cannot go into specifics regarding the UN other than to say that feverish conversations are taking place there, albeit while trying to instil a sense of calm,” he said.
“I have to say that I have encountered over the last two mornings a blizzard of diplomatic telegrams from Islamabad, New Delhi and, of course, New York recognising the huge amount of work going in from our diplomatic service in trying to keep open lines of communication and trying to speak to individuals in the military and at the political level,” he added.
Field also revealed that back-channels between military functionaries of Britain, India and Pakistan were also active. “The UK has back-channels with both the Indian and Pakistani military, and I am well aware that conversations have already taken place and will no doubt continue at pace,” he said.
Responding to persistent demands for London to play a greater role, Field reiterated the long-standing policy “that it is and must be for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to this situation, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK to prescribe, intervene or interfere with a solution or to act as mediator”.
Noting that Field was walking a “fine line”, Indian-origin Shailesh Vara (Conservative) asked him to make “absolutely clear to that host country that it should not be tolerating terrorists who are engaging in activity in another country and that they must face the full force of law”.
Field said, “(Sometimes) the most effective way to make an argument to our counterparts is not through megaphone diplomacy. There are robust private conversations that will take place. I do not want to go into detail as to what they will say, but let me just say this.”
“We do understand that there is a need and a desire for any country to act proportionately to secure its borders, people and military, but the idea that the UK should be seen to be robustly on one side of this battle rather than another would be entirely self-defeating. I think it is in the interests of us all to take a calm approach,” he added.
“Of course, we will not in any way do anything other than criticise terrorist organisations. That is one reason why the organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed has been subject to a UN listing for almost 20 years and has been proscribed in the UK for that period of time,” the Foreign Office minister iterated.

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