US policy on Kashmir unchanged

Published October 22, 2013
India maintains deployment of an estimated 700,000 soldiers in the Kashmir territory.—AP/File Photo
India maintains deployment of an estimated 700,000 soldiers in the Kashmir territory.—AP/File Photo
“On Kashmir, our policy has not changed an iota,” said one of the officials while briefing the media.  — File Photo
“On Kashmir, our policy has not changed an iota,” said one of the officials while briefing the media. — File Photo

WASHINGTON: The United States has refused to endorse Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s call for internationalising the Kashmir dispute and has urged him to stay engaged with India for resolving this issue.

Previewing Mr Sharif’s meeting with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday, senior administration officials acknowledged that the United States and Pakistan had, and would continue to, discuss the drone strikes in Fata but only as part of a larger security issue.

“On Kashmir, our policy has not changed an iota,” said one of the officials while briefing the media.

Reiterating America’s traditional position on Kashmir, the official said it was for India and Pakistan to determine the “pace, scope and character of their dialogue on Kashmir”.

During a stopover in London on Sunday, Mr Sharif sought US intervention in resolving the Kashmir dispute.

The official said the Obama-Sharif meeting would focus on bilateral relationship, including energy, economy and extremism, Pakistan’s relations with India and Afghanistan would also figure in the talks.

“We would continue to support a strong sovereign Afghanistan. There will be discussion how Pakistan sees the post-2014 Afghanistan,” the official said.

“We will continue to show our interest in a strong sovereign Afghanistan, which is prosperous, given that we have to conclude the combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of next year.”

The United States, he said, was keen to learn how Pakistan viewed the recent developments in Afghanistan and “what they would like it to be a post-2014 presence of Nato in Afghanistan”.

Pakistan’s relations with India, he said, would also come up at some point. “We have been very encouraged by steps that both India and Pakistan have taken.”

The US administration, he said, was encouraged by the steps the two countries had taken to resolve issues on trade.

‘Common enemy’

“We anticipate that Prime Minister Sharif is likely to raise our efforts against terrorist networks. I think this will be part of what has been an ongoing strategic dialogue with Pakistan — the issue of security and counter-terrorism co-operation.

“We need to work together to address this difference. We continue to work closely with Pakistan… to make sure that they have the support and capacity to conduct counter-terrorism operation.

“It is clear that both countries have a common enemy and a common cause in the problem of violent extremists. Pakistan has suffered at the hands of terrorists. We need to have a concerted and coordinated effort to deal with this problem.”

About the question of how it (militancy) is seen differently, there were obvious differences in the perspective between United States’ traditional concerns, historically US’s concern on Al Qaeda, Kabul’s concerns on the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban, Islamabad’s concerns on the Pakistani Taliban, separatists coming into Balochistan.

“So across that border there is clearly different perspective, even with the cross-border militant issue on that border alone, not to mention the issues with India.

“So I think, the idea is to, when we say cross border militancy, that the problem exists in many directions from both sides and to approach it from that different perspective.”

Funding of JuD

“We want to hear from him, what his priorities are and much of this would be a dialogue."

Iran pipeline

“On this issue in particular our position has been quite clear for many years now — the US is helping Pakistan to address its energy issues in a variety of ways.”

Talks with TTP

“This is an internal matter for Pakistan. We look forward to hearing from prime minister on what their plans are, the negotiations that are occurring in what time frame, but that is part of the overall critical shared discussion that we have on countering and ending terrorism and helping Pakistan achieve a more stable and prosperous role.

Senior Obama officials said that besides focusing on countering violent extremism, the US was equally interested in Pakistan’s economic growth.

“We remain committed to growth in the private sector — this would be the core area of the relationship, economic and energy progress outside of the traditional area,” he said.

The official said that the US viewed its relationship with Pakistan as “a very realistic and pragmatic partnership, one that would remain focused on people’s interest”.

Pakistan’s economic growth would be a core area of discussion between US and Pakistani teams, the official said.

“The fact that the visit would focus on many areas of economic and energy progress, outside the security area of discussion, is important in itself,” he added.

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