Pakistan calls to end bloodshed in Syria

-File photo

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has made a fervent call for an end to the bloody conflict in Syria, and backed a Russia-U.S. bid for a new peace initiative to end more than two years of civil war in the Middle East Country.

“The forces that are exploiting the vacuums in Syria to impose the writ of terrorism and extremism should be stopped,” Ambassador Masood Khan told the Security Council during closed-door consultations on the situation in Syria and the region on Tuesday, according to Council sources.

“Only diplomacy will ensure that Syrian conflict will not take down the entire region by deepening ethnic, religious and sectarian divides and fracturing polities of Syria’s neighbouring countries,” he reportedly said after an in-depth briefing by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco.

A three-way meeting — involving Russian, American and U.N. officials — is being held in Geneva today to further the preparations for the international conference on Syria envisioned under the US-Russian initiative. No date for the conference has yet been set.

The UN is represented by its peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi as well as undersecretary-general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman. The U.S. delegation includes Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Beth Jones.

Representing Russia is Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, according to media reports. The proposed conference, dubbed Geneva 2, is facing serious obstacles in getting warring parties to the table. While Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has agreed “in principle” to attend the talks, the main opposition National Coalition is refusing to take part until all order demands are met.

In his remarks, Pakistani envoy Masood Khan called the joint US-Russia initiative to convene Geneva-II as the “most important diplomatic development”, and went on to say that imprudent actions or statements by the parties and their supporters could vitiate the atmosphere and ruin its chances.

“Countries with influence should dissuade the Syrian Government and opposition from taking steps and issuing statements that imperil the Geneva II process,” he stressed. Masood Khan said, “Issues like list of participants and legitimacy of interlocutors should not be allowed to derail the process even before it has begun.

“Even as efforts are being made for a diplomatic breakthrough, the military situation on the ground has escalated. Violence has spiked. “Both sides still believe that a military victory will give them an upper hand in diplomacy and in gaining control inside Syria.

What is worse, both sides are taking steps to enhance arms supplies for intimidation, deterrence and intensification of military campaigns. The irony lost on both sides is that the Syrian people are hapless victims of their cold logic.

“This is time for statesmanship to stop bloodshed in Syria. This is no time for brinkmanship. Both sides need to establish their credentials as credible interlocutors and responsible stewards.”