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Pakistan Urges Talks With India, Asks UN To Help Defuse Tensions


Flames and smoke billow from a residential building where militants are suspected to have taken refuge during a gun battle in Pulwama, south of Srinagar in Indian-controlled Kashmir on February 18.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that his country had nothing to do with a suicide bombing that killed dozens of Indian soldiers in Kashmir and called for talks as the only way to ease tensions.

Khan said India had "leveled allegations against Pakistan without any evidence" and his government was ready to cooperate with New Delhi in investigating the attack in Indian-administered Kashmir.

"If you have actionable evidence about involvement of any Pakistani, share it with us. I assure you that we will take action," Khan said.

"We are hearing voices from India that Pakistan should be taught a lesson," he said. "Pakistan will not think about retaliation, we will retaliate. You will leave us with no other option."

Khan's statement came after Pakistan's foreign minister wrote a letter to the United Nations, asking it to help de-escalate tensions with India.

India has blamed Islamabad for the two incidents and warned of a "jaw-breaking response."

On February 18, Islamabad also recalled its ambassador from New Delhi for consultations.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi informed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his letter that "for domestic political reasons, India has deliberately ratcheted up its hostile rhetoric against Pakistan and created a tense environment," the Foreign Ministry said on February 19.

Nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan each administer a part of Kashmir and since obtaining independence from Britain in 1947 have fought two of their three wars over it.

Early on February 18, at least four Indian soldiers, including a top officer, a police official, one civilian, and three suspected militants were killed in a gunfight with rebels in Indian-administered Kashmir, just days after a suicide bombing that killed at least 44 paramilitary officers in the disputed territory.

Tensions rose sharply with neighboring Pakistan following the suicide bombing.

New Delhi demanded that Pakistan "stop supporting terrorists and terror groups" who use Pakistan as a base and "dismantle the infrastructure operated by terrorist outfits to launch attacks in other countries."

India has long accused Pakistan of supporting militants in Muslim-majority Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two nuclear archrivals but claimed in full by both.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa, and India Today

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