Without taking any stand on Pakistan's support of terrorism, China today said it played a "constructive role" in efforts to "defuse" tensions between India and Pakistan, in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir, the responsibility for which has been claimed by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed or JeM.
At a press conference on the sidelines of the second session of the 13th National People's Conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China wants to see an improvement of relations and "encouraged" New Delhi and Islamabad to "return to negotiations", hoping that "both sides can transform crisis into opportunity", Chinese state media reported.
Significantly, he made no mention of China's position on asking Pakistan to stop supporting terrorism, even as Pak-based JeM carried out a terror attack in which more than 40 Indian soldiers were killed.
There was no mention whatsoever, of China telling Pakistan to cease its backing to terrorists and terror outfits operating on its soil or areas under its occupation, when Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou visited Pakistan on March 6.
At the behest of Pakistan, China has previously blocked multiple attempts by India and other P5 nations to list JeM chief Masood Azhar at the UN Security Council as a UN-designated global terrorist.
The Chinese foreign minister did not comment on Beijing's support towards listing Masood Azhar a UN-designated global terrorist in the wake of Pulwama terror attack, even as countries like US, France, and UK have shown their outright support for the same. Russia too has supported India's stand.
Speaking on the prevailing heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, Mr Wang said that China "played a constructive role" in the "mediation efforts" between the two countries, even as the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong recently visited Pakistan and held meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa.
"The Chinese side maintains that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be earnestly respected and is unwilling to see acts that violate the norms governing international relations," China''s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
"The Chinese side calls on Pakistan and India to refrain from taking actions that aggravate the situation, show goodwill and flexibility, launch dialogue as soon as possible, and work together to maintain regional peace and stability. The Chinese side is ready to continue to play a constructive role in this regard," the ministry noted, while talking about Mr Kong's visit to Pakistan.
The Pakistani side, on the other hand, called China, Pakistan's "most reliable friend," appreciating "Chinese side's efforts to cool down the situation" according to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
JeM chief Masood Azhar continues to roam freely in Pakistan, even after the February 14 attack. Even though Islamabad added that Hafiz Saeed's JuD and FIF in its proscribed list of banned terror outfits on March 5, there has been no new action against JeM or its head.
Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, on March 5, admitted that JeM is a terror organisation and claimed that Pakistani intelligence had used the outfit to carry out suicide attacks in India during his tenure.
India has repeatedly underlined that necessary conditions have to be created for the resumption of India-Pakistan talks. During the recent visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to India, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Crown Prince called on all countries to reject the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terror infrastructure and cut off all support to terrorism besides punishing the terrorists.