Thursday Feb 28, 2019
WASHINGTON: The United States has urged Pakistan and India to avoid further military action as tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours escalate.
In a statement issued by the Pentagon, Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said that he had spoken with senior US military officials about the situation.
"Acting Secretary Shanahan’s focus is on de-escalating tensions and urging both of the nations to avoid further military action," the statement added.
Earlier, the White House condemned the intensifying conflict and urged “both sides to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.”
“The potential risks associated with further military action by either side are unacceptably high for both countries, their neighbors and the international community,” a National Security Council official said on condition of anonymity to Reuters.
Pakistan’s envoy to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan, said Islamabad would like to see the Trump administration play a more active role in easing the crisis. “We would certainly like to have more, and would certainly like to see more active involvement of the United States,” he told reporters.
Prime Minister Imran Khan called for talks with India and hoped both sides could de-escalate. “History tells us that wars are full of miscalculation. My question is that, given the weapons we have, can we afford miscalculation,” PM Imran said during a brief televised broadcast to the nation. “We should sit down and talk.”
China, Britain and the European Union have also called for restraint.
China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, spoke by telephone with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and expressed “deep concern” over the escalation in tensions, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
Earlier, China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at his regular press briefing, "We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint, take initiatives that are conducive to promoting dialogue, meet halfway and make active efforts for lasting peace and stability in South Asia."
British Prime Minister Theresa May in an official statement said, “The UK is deeply concerned about rising tensions between India and Pakistan and urgently calls for restraint on both sides to avoid further escalation.”
Pakistan carried out air strikes and shot down two Indian military jets on Wednesday, a day after Indian warplanes "intruded" Pakistan airspace for the first time since a war in 1971, prompting leading powers to urge both of the nuclear-armed countries to show restraint.
Tension has been elevated since the Pulwama attack on February 14 in which over 40 Indian paramilitaries were killed in occupied Kashmir.