The Indo-Pak tensions following the Pulwama terror attack became the focal point of the first strategic dialogue between the foreign ministers of Pakistan and China on Tuesday as Beijing urged the global community to take a "fair perspective" of Islamabad's commitment to fight terrorism. Pakistan is facing intense international pressure to rein in the terror groups operating from its soil in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack by a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) suicide bomber on February 14 that killed 40 CRPF soldiers. JeM is one of the terror groups operating from Pakistan.
The meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi came days after Beijing foiled for the fourth time the efforts to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council.
After the meeting, Wang said that China will firmly support Pakistan in upholding its sovereign independence, territorial integrity and dignity.
Heaping praise on Pakistan's counter terrorism efforts, Wang said, "China commends Pakistan's recent strong counter terrorism measures taken at home. We fully support Pakistan in carrying out its counter terrorism campaign."
"We also discussed the situation emerging out of the Pulwama incident," Qureshi said during a joint press conference where both sides took two selective questions.
References to the involvement of JeM in the Pulwama attack as well as China blocking the US, UK and France proposal to list Azhar as global terrorist by the UNSC were conspicuously absent in their press interaction.
"As Wang was suggesting both sides have to show restraint. I think the world has noted that Pakistan did exercise restraint and responsibility," Qureshi said.
He also said Pakistan is always ready for an engagement to "resolve all our outstanding issues." "We did discuss the impact this (Pulwama) incident had on Pakistan-India relations and the impact this could have risen to different level of escalation and impact it could have had on the peace and stability of the region," he said.
"I briefed Wang about steps Pakistan had taken to safeguard our territorial integrity and the steps we had taken to de-escalate (tensions with India). Pakistan appreciates the role China had played once again in standing by Pakistan in these difficult times," he said.
Qureshi also raked up the Kashmir issue at the press conference saying that he also briefed Wang "on the rapidly deteriorating situation" in Kashmir.
He said the reaction at times creates tension in the region and it must be avoided.
In his comments, Wang said China and Pakistan have agreed to step up counter terrorism cooperation.
"We call on the international community to adopt a fair perspective of the commitments made by Pakistan to combat terrorism over the years. We think a peaceful and stable South Asia is in the common interest of the regional countries and meets the expectations of the world and China," he said.
"China commends efforts made by Pakistan to ease the situation. We call on both Pakistan and India to exercise restraint and peacefully resolve their differences through dialogue. The purpose UN charter and norms of the international law must be observed in earnest," he said.
"We firmly support Pakistan's independent choice of development paths according to its national conditions, support its efforts towards national stability development and prosperity and support greater and more constructive role for Pakistan in international and regional affairs," he said.
Earlier, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan told Qureshi when he called on him that China supports Pakistan in seizing opportunities and tackling challenges, and properly handling relations with its neighbours, to achieve stable development.
Qureshi told the vice president that Pakistan appreciates China's constructive role in moderating tensions between India and Pakistan, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Tensions between India and Pakistan flared up after the Pulwama attack. China early this month rushed its Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou to Pakistan to discuss the Indo-Pak tensions, as it called for the creation of an "enabling atmosphere" for its close ally Pakistan to cooperate with "other parties".
Addressing the media, Foreign Minister Wang said both sides reviewed their all-weather strategic cooperative partnership during the first strategic dialogue, which was set up after Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit last year.
"We agreed that Pakistan-China special friendship has been made rock solid and vibrant despite changes in the international landscape. Our two sides are strengthening dialogue and win-win cooperation and building China Pakistan community of shared future in the new era. This also not only meets the common interests of our two people but also good for peace stability and prosperity of the region," he said.
Asked what steps Pakistan has taken to curb terrorism, Qureshi mostly spoke about the crackdown on militants linked to al-Qaeda and those of East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), who are active in China's Xinjiang, in the country's tribal areas, without referring to terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and JeM which carry out attacks in India.
China has been pressing Pakistan to specially crackdown on ETIM militants and their camps in the tribal areas.