London: The British government has called on India and Pakistan to pursue diplomatic solutions in the wake of the Pulwama terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The Foreign Secretary highlighted the UK’s concern about the enduring threat to regional stability from terrorism.
“He encouraged Pakistan and India to improve cooperation and find diplomatic solutions that will create greater stability and trust in the region,” the FCO said hours before Indian fighter jets struck Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest camp in Pakistan in a pre-dawn attack.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) bombed militant camps at multiple locations across the Line of Control (LoC) on the Pakistani side in a pre-dawn strike, 12 days after the Pakistan-based group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) carried out the Pulwama attack in Kashmir.
Hunt condemned the Pulwama militant and expressed condolences to all those affected, it said.
The FCO statement came amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan after the February 14 suicide attack by JeM group that killed 40 CRPF soldiers in Pulwama.
The FCO said that the UK minister reiterated with both Indian and Pakistani counterparts that Britain was committed to working with both India and Pakistan as well as international partners at the United Nations to ensure that those responsible for the attack are held to account.
“The UK has been, and continues to be, in close contact at senior levels in both countries and will be promoting international efforts to tackle the threats of terrorism and improve regional stability,” an FCO spokesperson said.
Hunt had come under pressure in the immediate aftermath of the Pulwama attack for referring to “India-administered Kashmir” in his Twitter statement while expressing his condolences to the victims.
Indian-origin Opposition Labour Party MP Virendra Sharma wrote to him to protest that “Jammu and Kashmir have been an integral part of the Indian state” and that the minister’s use of the “deeply offensive” phrase had upset Indians and British Indians.
“I hope that you will withdraw this phrase and demure from using it again in the future due to the connotations this seemingly innocuous phrase contains,” wrote Sharma, Chair of the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).
His letter was followed by APPG Vice-Char, Conservative Party MP Bob Blackman, also writing to the UK foreign secretary to point out his “factually incorrect” statement on Twitter.
“Your language may offend and again, I suggest retracting this phrase,” he wrote in the letter, which also asked the minister to clarify the support the UK is providing to “our friends in India in their ongoing battle against terrorists”.
India launched a major diplomatic offensive against Islamabad after the attack and highlighted Pakistan’s role in using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
India asked Pakistan to take immediate and verifiable action against terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control.
New Delhi also announced the withdrawal of the Most Favoured Nation status for Pakistan and hiked the customs duty by 200 per cent on goods originating from Pakistan. (Agencies)