US rejects Pakistan call to intervene in Kashmir issue

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: Rejecting Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s call to President Barack Obama to raise the Kashmir issue during his India visit, the United States has reiterated it’s a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

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“Kashmir is an issue that we believe needs to be resolved between Pakistan and India,” State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley told reporters Friday hours after Qureshi asked Obama to “redeem the pledge” he made as a candidate.

But he did not consider it inappropriate on the part of Qureshi to raise it during the just concluded US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue “focused on expanding our bilateral relationship.”

“When we get together the United States or Pakistan can bring forward any issue that it wishes,” Crowley said. “The Pakistanis have raised the issue of Kashmir with us before. This is not new.”

“Our understanding of the Pakistani view of this issue is well known,” he said. “But at the same time, the United States policy is clear: We believe that this is ultimately an issue that has to be resolved between India and Pakistan.”

Asked if the US was concerned about alleged human rights violations in Kashmir which have raised tensions between Pakistan and India, Crowley said “We obviously have great concern about the situation in Kashmir.”
The US, he said, talks “both to our Pakistani friends and our Indian friends on this issue on a regular basis” and “would like to see the situation in Kashmir resolved.”

“There is obviously too much tension and violence in Kashmir, which is why we continue to encourage both countries to resolve it through dialogue,” Crowley said.

The spokesman declined to say if India was briefed about the five-year $2 billion military assistance package for Pakistan announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday ignoring Indian concerns.

“We do not see this in zero-sum terms,” Crowley said. “The Indians are well aware of the support that we provide to Pakistan. Pakistan is well aware of the nature of our relationship with India.”

In high-level discussions with both countries, the US continues to provide the same message: “Our assistance to Pakistan does not come at the expense of India, and our relationship with India does not come at the expense of Pakistan.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])