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US rules out mediation on Kashmir

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Ruling out a mediatory role in Kashmir, the United States has said that while it understood the importance of the issue to both India and Pakistan, it was ultimately between the two nations to resolve.

“We understand the importance of the Kashmir issue to both Pakistan and India, and it is something that we do discuss with both countries,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Thursday when asked to comment on such a suggestion by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

“But obviously, at the end of a process that has to be something that is resolved ultimately between Pakistan and India with the active involvement of the people of Kashmir.”

Asked if the US saw any role for itself in this process, Crowley said: “I’m not aware that we’ve been asked to play a specific role at this point.”

“I’ll leave it there,” he added when pressed if the US did not see any role “not even with Pakistan.”

Asked if he agreed with Zardari’s view on resolving the Kashmir issue, he said: “I’ll let the president’s view stand on its own.”

In an opinion piece published in the New York Times Thursday, Zardari had called upon the US to demonstrate American neutrality and willingness to help India and Pakistan overcome their mutual distrust by stepping up its efforts “to mediate the Kashmir dispute”.

Suggesting that public mistrust of the United States in Pakistan “also stems from regional issues, specifically policies concerning India,” he wrote: “I know it is the conventional wisdom in Washington that my nation is obsessed with India.”

Likening the Kashmir issue to the “Israeli-Palestinian dispute”, Zardari said: “But even to those of us who are striving towards accommodation and peace, the long history and the unresolved situation in Kashmir give Pakistanis reason to be concerned about our neighbour to the east.

“Just as the Israeli-Palestinian dispute cannot be resolved without accommodating the Palestinian people, there cannot be permanent regional peace in South Asia without addressing Kashmir,” he added.

Referring to concerns in Pakistan over the Kerry-Lugar legislation linking US non-military aid to progress in the fight against terrorism, Zardari said: “It shows how sensitive many here are to what they see as unfair treatment by the United States.”

“It would be helpful if the United States, at some point, would scrutinise India in a similar fashion and acknowledge that it has from time to time played a destabilising role in the region,” he added.