China said on Wednesday that it would like to help ease tensions between India and Pakistan after a new government, led by former cricketer Imran Khan, has come to power in Pakistan.
China's message, offering to play a "constructive role", was delivered by foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang during a media briefing.
This comes amidst criticism over Congress leader and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu visiting Pakistan for Khan's swearing-in ceremony and Prime Minister Narendra Modi writing to his Pakistani counterpart seeking constructive dialogue.
Here's what you need to know:
- Lu was quoted by PTI as saying, "Both Pakistan and India are important countries in South Asia. As a common neighbour to Pakistan and India, China firmly supports the two sides to enhance dialogue increase mutual trust, properly handle and solve their differences."
- The Hindu reported Lu as saying that China was keen on a peaceful relationship between India and Pakistan because it was important for regional peace and stability.
- The Hindu report adds that Lu, despite offering help, did not describe what form that would take. China also refused to explain whether this was a proposal to offer mediation.
What led to China's remarks on Indo-Pak ties?
- The new Pakistan PM Khan responded to a letter reportedly written to him by Modi saying he was also keen on improving bilateral ties between the two countries.
- Reports said that PM Modi, in his letter, had highlighted the need for good relations between the two countries to ensure the Indian subcontinent was "free of terror and violence".
- While sources told The Indian Express that Modi wrote good relations between the two countries would reaffirm peoples' belief in democracy, the report added it could also be a way of showing support to Khan's government, which has already been questioned by the opposition in Pakistan.
- Sidhu also visited Pakistan for Khan's swearing-in ceremony amid harsh criticism for missing Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cremation. Sidhu was also censured for hugging Pakistan's Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.
- Before the ceremony, Sidhu had said, "People like Khan sahab (Imran Khan) create history. With this invitation, they have honoured me. People who build relationships are respected, people who break them are disrespected and I am one of those who respect relationships. It's a new dawn. This government has come to change this country's perception, picture and destiny, with high hopes and expectations."
- Khan, in turn, defended Sidhu saying: