By Arul Louis
United Nations, Feb 21 (IANS) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for bringing the perpetrators of the terrorist attack that killed 40 Indian security personnel in Kashmir swiftly to justice a day after meeting Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi.
His spokesperson Stephane Dujarric issued on Wednesday a stern statement: “It is essential that there be accountability under international law and the perpetrators of terrorist acts be brought swiftly to justice.”
UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday made a similar appeal to bring those responsible for the attack in Pulwama to justice.
They did not say to whom their call for prosecutions was addressed or mention Pakistan, but their broad statements appear to include action against the Jaish-e-Mohammad, which has taken responsibility for the attack and is based in and protected by Pakistan.
Dujarric said that Guterres also made an urgent appeal to “India and Pakistan to exercise maximum restraint to ensure the situation does not further deteriorate.
“It is the belief of the Secretary-General that all difficult challenges can be resolved peacefully and satisfactorily through meaningful mutual engagement,” he added.
Asked at his briefing if Guterres would take on the task of mediating through good offices, Dujarric said: “As we said yesterday, both parties need to request it.”
While Pakistan has asked for his – as well as others’ – intervention, India has rejected the involvement of third parties in the dispute with its neighbour because both countries had agreed that Kashmir was a bilateral affair.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)