The Pulwama terror attack is the direct result of the “impunity and cover” provided to the Jaish-e-Mohammed by Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Wednesday as she forcefully raised the February 14 strike with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
Swaraj’s meeting with Wang came a day after India destroyed a major Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror training camp in Pakistan. China, a close ally of Pakistan has repeatedly foiled India’s attempts to brand JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN.
The JeM, founded by Azhar, has already been in the UN’s list of banned terror outfits.
In 2009, India had moved a proposal by itself to designate Azhar. This was followed in 2016 when India moved the proposal with the P3 – the United States, the United Kingdom and France in the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee to ban Azhar, also the mastermind of the attack on the air base in Pathankot in January, 2016. In 2017, the P3 nations moved a similar proposal again. However, on all occasions China blocked India’s proposal.
“I am visiting China at a time when there is grief and anger in India. It is the worst terrorist attack directed against our security forces in Jammu and Kashmir,” she said in her opening remarks during the meeting held on the sidelines of Russia, India, China Foreign Ministers’ meeting.
“The attack was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Pakistan-based and supported terrorist organisation,” she said.
Forty Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in a suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14, sparking outrage in the country.
Following the incident, India bombed and destroyed JeM’s biggest training camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 80-km from the Line of Control (LoC) early Tuesday, killing a “very large number” of terrorists, trainers and senior commanders.
Stating that the JeM is banned by the UN and other countries, Swaraj told Wang that “this terrorist attack is the direct result of the impunity and cover provided to the JeM and its leaders by the Pakistani side”.
“After the Pulwama attack the entire UN has spoken with full voice to condemn it,” she said.
Swaraj, who arrived in China early this morning, told Wang that this is their first meeting this year and therefore an opportune time for the two sides to take stock of the bilateral relations and look ahead for cooperation.
“This is our first meeting this year. Therefore, an opportune time for us to take stock of our bilateral relations and look ahead for cooperation. The India-China relationship is an important relationship for both of our countries,” she said.
Referring to the Wuhan Summit between Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Swaraj said “we have made substantial progress in relations”.
“It is important for both sides to make sure the through and effective implementation of the guidance given by the two leaders,” she told Wang, adding that both side made efforts and “we should sustain this”.
“Particularly the decision taken by our leaders to maintain strategic communication between them provided an important foundation for the development of our bilateral relations. This channel of strategic communication between the two of us and between senior officials should always remain open,” she said.
Wang said last year’s Wuhan meeting between Modi and Xi led the bilateral ties into honest and new stage.
“Led by the leaders, all aspects of our bilateral relationship are going well. Both nations and the international community are more optimistic of our bilateral relations. In 2019 we are going keep working on the consensus of the two leaders,” he said.
China on Tuesday called for restraint between India and Pakistan following India’s airstrikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan and urged New Delhi to carry out its fight against terrorism through international cooperation.
Asked for China’s response to India’s airstrikes on terrorist camps in Pakistan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told media briefing in Beijing on Tuesday that “we have taken note of relevant reports.”
“I want to say that India and Pakistan are both important countries in South Asia. A sound relationship and cooperation between the two serves the interests of both the countries and peace and stability in South Asia,” he said.
“We hope that the parties remain restrained and do more to improve their bilateral relations,” he said.
On India’s assertion that it was a non-military attack directed against camps of the terrorist groups who are carrying out violent acts in India, Lu said “as for India’s claim on taking action against terrorism, well fighting terrorism is a global practice”.
“It needs necessary international cooperation. And India needs to create favourable condition internationally for the same, he said.
Lu also said that Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Muhammad Qureshi also spoke to Wang on Monday over the tensions related to the Pulwama attack.
“During the phone call Wang Yi listened carefully to Pakistan Foreign Minister’s notification and proposals on the issues and reaffirmed his opinions that the two sides need to advance their cooperation in the counter terrorism for peace and stability in the region,” Lu said.
The Pulwama attack and its aftermath as well Tuesday’s airstrikes were expected to figure in Swaraj’s talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Levrov later in the day.