Time to act for the UN

February 27, 2019

Pakistan shot down two Indian jets on Wednesday, a day after Indian warplanes struck inside Pakistan prompting leading powers to urge the nuclear armed rivals to show restraint. Tensions have been elevated since Pulwama attack killed at least 40 Indian Central Reserve Police Force personnel on Feb. 14, but the risk of conflict rose dramatically when India launched an air strike. With good sense having failed to prevail in India, the whole region now stands on the threshold of uneasiness. The aerial military incursion by India across the Line of Control and into KP in the early hours of Tuesday morning signifies the crossing of a red line by India. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gone too far.He must stop appeasing the domestic audiences and electorate in India. It was a madly provoking and outrageously hostile act by India and the possible ramifications may extend to the thus far impossible prospect of war between the two South Asian neighbors. Therefore it should also be unimaginable for New Delhi to start a clash that has the likelihood of getting out of control. It must learn to avert and administer crises rather than generate and intensify them. It is agonizing to look at Indian media these days where there appears to be a no holds barred fury to stoke fires of abhorrence. From India, there are reports of cases of whipping up mob passions against Kashmiris and Pakistan. The Indian leaders, intellectuals and media have a duty to exercise restraint and take steps to bring some poise to the distressed situation. Pakistan’s efforts for dialogue with India need global support. Neither China, the US nor Saudi Arabia want to see a conflagration in this region and they would not like the episode of war. The best thing for India is to realize that in war, it does not matter who wins or who loses. The only ones who matter are the survivors. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres should come forward and help promote a dialogue between India and Pakistan that would pave the way for the resolution of the internationally-recognized Kashmir dispute. Letters from Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urging the UN chief to play a role in defusing the escalating tensions stemming from the Indian Prime Minister’s threats to teach Pakistan a lesson also failed to move him. The inaction on part of UN is surprising. When India was beating war drums in the wake of the Pulwama attack, Gutteres only called for restraint on both sides, saying his good offices were available. Offer of good offices is not the only choice.

The UN secretary general must persuade India to shun belligerent attitude and come to the negotiating table.

 

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