US stresses need for direct talks between Pakistan, India

Updated September 08, 2019

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A delegation of the US Council of Muslim Organisations (USCMO) met US State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pakistan Affairs Ervin Massinga in Washington this week. — Photo courtesy State Dept Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Twitter
A delegation of the US Council of Muslim Organisations (USCMO) met US State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pakistan Affairs Ervin Massinga in Washington this week. — Photo courtesy State Dept Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Twitter

WASHINGTON: The United States has informed a group of Muslim organisations that it continues to support direct talks between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues.

A delegation of the US Council of Muslim Organisations (USCMO) met US State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pakistan Affairs Ervin Massinga in Washington this week and conveyed their concern on the situation caused by India’s Aug 5 decision to annex held Kashmir.

They are also believed to have urged the United States to play a role in easing tensions between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed neighbours, India and Pakistan.

Muslim bodies’ representatives meet State Department’s official

In a tweet posted on Friday afternoon, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Alice G. Wells said that Mr Massinga conveyed the US position to the Muslim delegate, stating that Washington would continue to stress the need for India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve this issue.

“The US continues to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern — a message stressed in Deputy Assistant Secretary Massinga’s recent meeting with the USCMO leadership,” Ms Wells wrote.

Relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated rapidly after Aug 5 when Mr Modi withdrew special autonomy for occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan strongly condemned the Indian action and pledged to continue to provide moral and political support to the Kashmiri people.

The US support for bilateral talks, however, is unlikely to resolve the issue because of India’s stubborn attitude on its disputes with Pakistan.

At a recent joint news briefing with US President Donald Trump in France, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged that there were “many bilateral issues between India and Pakistan”. But when asked to comment on President Trump’s offer to help resolve the Kashmir dispute, Modi said that “we don’t want to trouble any third country as we can discuss and resolve these issues bilaterally”.

He said India and Pakistan were together before 1947 and he was “confident that we can discuss our problems and solve them, together”.

But India refuses to hold bilateral discussions with Pakistan, saying that there could be no talks as along as terrorist attacks inside India continued.

New Delhi also rejects Pakistan’s assurance that it will not allow any terrorist groups to use its territory for carrying out attacks in or outside the country. Islamabad says the last attack in the Indian occupied Kashmir was locally motivated, but India disagrees, without sharing any evidence to support its claim of Pakistan’s involvement.

Recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan and other senior Pakistan officials have warned that India may use false terrorism accusation to further aggravate the situation.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2019