China says willing to play ‘constructive role’ over Kashmir

Irshad Salim — China said on Wednesday it was willing to play a ‘constructive role’ in improving relations between the two neighbors, saying the situation in Kashmir has attracted ‘international’ attention.

Earlier in May, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson had said Kashmir is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan and that China will play a “constructive role” for the improvement of relations between India and Pakistan.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Wednesday reiterated theoffer. He said India and Pakistan are important South Asian countries but the ‘situation in Kashmir has attracted the attention of the international community’. Kashmir is considered a nuclear flashpoint by many experts.

India has maintained that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral matter with Pakistan, and that there is no scope for a third party mediation. It said so several times earlier also — during the last 1 year period the US, Turkey, Iran,Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and China jave offered assistance in dispute resolution. Pakistan says it welcomes mediation as long as the matter gets resolved as per the aspirations of the Kashmiris and the UN Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir.

The Chinese comments come at a time the armies of India and China are locked in a standoff in Doklam area in the Sikkim section.

Expressing concern over the tension between India and Pakistan, Geng said, “The conflict occurred near the Line of Control of Kashmir. This will not only harm the peace and stability of the two countries but also the peace and tranquility of the region.”

“We hope the relevant sides can do more things that are conducive for peace and stability in the region and avoiding escalating the tensions and China is willing to play constructive role in improving relations between India and Pakistan,” he told reporters.

The comments also come two days after a Chinese analyst wrote in the state-run Global Times that a ‘third country’s’ army could enter Kashmir at Pakistan’s request, using the ‘logic’ the Indian Army used to stop the Chinese military from constructing the road in Doklam area.

Geng’s comments were in reply to a question on the tension between India and Pakistan, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressing concern over the situation in Kashmir, and whether China can play a role to defuse the hostility between the two warring neighbors.

According to Pakistan Foreign Ministry, the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, who met in Abidjan, Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, passed a resolution on Kashmir.

On Monday evening, a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims was targeted in Indian-held Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Seven of the pilgrims were killed, including six women . It was a rare attack in Indian-held Kashmir despite its dense security environment.

“All indications are that 2017 will turn out to be the deadliest year in Jammu and Kashmir in almost a decade,…given the tone and tenor of the new phase of Kashmir militancy and the sustained tension along the India-Pakistan border,” wrote The Hindu in its editorial.

Kashmir, the Himalayan region that straddles India and Pakistan, has been in dispute since India’s independence from Britain and the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Both nations claim it in its entirety.

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