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Pulwama attack: Diplomacy takes centerstage as India prepares to isolate Pakistan, briefs envoys of P5 countries

File photo. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 15, 2019, 06.43 PM (IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

A day after Pulwama attack that killed over 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, diplomacy took centre stage as the Ministry of External Affairs briefed envoys of P5 countries, Gulf, Europe, Japan, South Korea on Pakistan’s role in Thursday's terror attack. ASEAN envoys have also been called on Saturday for a briefing.

Sources told WION that, all the heads of missions were "left in no doubt about the role played by Pakistan based and supported Jaish-e-Mohammed in the terrorist attack" and "our demand that Pakistan ceases forthwith all support and financing to terror groups operating from areas under their control". 

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale highlighted the role played by "Pakistan in using terrorism as an instrument of its state policy".

Indian Foreign Secretary also met the Chinese Ambassador Luo Zhaohui in Delhi and conveyed the Pakistani role in the Pulwama attack. 

UN-designated Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the terror attack.

Also read: NIA begins investigation in Pulwama terror attack, 7 detained after raids

As part of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) decision, India will be taking action to diplomatically isolate Pakistan. CCS which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting on the aftermath of the terror attack on Friday morning.  

Briefing the media after Cabinet Committee on Security, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, "MEA will initiate all possible steps and I am referring to all possible diplomatic steps which have to be taken to ensure the complete isolation of Pakistan from the international community for having a direct hand in this incident".

After the Uri attack, India along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, had boycotted the SAARC Summit in Islamabad.

New Delhi also announced that it will be withdrawing the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan. Under the status, a country grants equal trade advantages like low tariff or high import quota.

India will ask the world to form a consensus on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) which it had introduced more than two decades ago at the United Nation.

Pakistan High Commissioner summoned

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Friday summoned Pakistan High Commissioner and issued a "very strong demarche" in connection with the terror attack.

Sources tell WION that India conveyed that Pakistan must take "immediate and verifiable action" against the JeM. New Delhi asked Islamabad that "it must immediately stop any groups or individuals associated with terrorism operating from its territories". 

India also rejected the statement made by the foreign ministry of Pakistan on Thursday. Pakistan had said it, "strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian government and media circles that seek to link the attack to the State of Pakistan without investigations".

This is the second time this year when the Pak envoy has been summoned. He was summoned in January after Pakistan Foreign Minister SM Qureshi had made a phone call to pro-Pakistan Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

In all, as many as 7 times a Pakistan High Commissioner has been summoned under the Modi-government since 2014.

China doesn't budge on Masood Azhar

But China's stance on Masood Azhar, the chief of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), did not change. When asked about if China will now allow Azhar to be listed as a terrorist, China foreign ministry spokesperson said, "JeM has been included in the Security Council terrorism sanctions list. China will continue to handle the relevant sanctions issue in a constructive and responsible manner." 

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson on terrorism said, "Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly condemns terrorism in any form, hoping regional countries join hands together to confront the threat of terrorism so as to maintain the regional peace and security".

Remember, China repeatedly blocked listing of Masood Azhar as an internationally designated terrorist under the UNSC 1267 Committee. India, in February 2016, had approached the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee with the proposal to designate Masood Azhar under the 1267 sanction regime. While the US, UK and France backed India's bid, China continued to block it.

China was the only country that took time to condemn the attack and the last of the P5 -- Permanent five countries of UNSC -- to react. 

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wrote to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and condemned the terror attack. In the letter, he expressed "deep sympathy to families of the victims and injured" and "stressed that the Chinese side resolutely opposes and strongly condemns all forms of terrorism."

China and Pakistan call themselves as "all-weather friends" with the Chinese economic project China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through the country, providing Beijing with a lucrative link with West Asia.   

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The US came heavy on Pakistan. The White House in a strong statement hit out at Islamabad. The United States called on Pakistan "to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil, whose only goal is to sow chaos, violence, and terror in the region".

It further said, "this attack only strengthens our resolve to bolster counterterrorism, cooperation and coordination between the United States and India".

The US State Department was quick to react and in a statement said, "We call on all countries to uphold their responsibilities pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions to deny safe haven and support for terrorists".

Later in the day, American National Security Advisor (NSA) John Bolton spoke to NSA Ajit Doval.

Eleven US senators, 15 members of US house of representatives have condemned the Pulwama attack.

India's neighbours - Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan - and major countries in the world like Russia, UK, Germany, France, Australia, Israel, Iran, UAE have strongly come out in strong support of New Delhi. 

According to reports, representatives from 20 countries, including Germany, Hungary, Italy, the European Union, Canada, Britain, Russia, Israel, Australia and Japan arrived at the Ministry of External Affairs on Friday evening. 

Diplomats from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Nepal were also present at the MEA office.