Pakistan asks Obama ‘redeem the pledge’ on Kashmir (Lead)

October 22nd, 2010 - 10:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, Oct 22 (IANS) Even as the US made clear that it considers Kashmir a bilateral issue, Pakistan Friday bluntly asked President Barack Obama to intervene during his India visit and “redeem the pledge” he made as a candidate.

“President Obama has always understood the importance of a Kashmir solution,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at the start of the final day of the latest Washington-Islamabad strategic talks here.

“His coming visit to the region is the time to begin to redeem the pledge, that he made earlier,” he said minutes after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a $2 billion package of military aid to Pakistan to get tough with terrorists that threaten its neighbours, the world and Pakistan itself.

“It is in the US’ strategic interest to work for peace, stability and resolution of the disputes in South Asia,” Qureshi said. “The starting point in this quest is justice for the Kashmiri people.”

He said a recent crackdown against suspected militants in Kashmir threatens peace and stability in South Asia and expressed astonishment that the US and other major powers had said little about India’s response to the protests.

“People of conscience have protested the use of force against the defenceless people of Kashmir, in particular the targeting of the Kashmiri youth,” he said.

“But the Kashmiri mothers are baffled by the deafening silence of the world’s leadership. History has proved that the force of arms cannot suppress the legitimate aspirations of the Kashmiri people.”

Qureshi’s comments on Kashmir came even after the US publicly rejected Islamabad’s request to intervene in the Kashmir dispute making clear that the issue should be resolved through bilateral talks between India and Pakistan.

“We recognise the importance of Kashmir to both India and Pakistan,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told foreign media Thursday.

“We absolutely want to see tensions eased and ultimately a resolution to the situation in Kashmir,” he said. “That we believe needs to come through additional dialogue between Pakistan and India.”

“We have not been asked by both countries to play a particular role. This is the reason why, for a number of reasons we continue to encourage further dialogue between India and Pakistan,” Crowley said in response to a question.

Crowley described both India and Pakistan as US allies and said his country will continue to encourage both countries in their efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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