By Ali Imran
WASHINGTON, Jan 19 – The US State Department Friday said Washington would hate to see Pakistan-India progress towards normalization of relations jeopardized in the wake of tensions along the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region as it counseled the two South Asian neighbors to resolve their disputes through dialogue.
“We very much value the progress the two countries have made on the economic side, on the visa side, on the trade side. And we ‘ll hate to see that jeopardized because it is in the interest of India and Pakistan and all of us who care about that region,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
The spokesperson was responding to a question about the US role in addressing the South Asian tensions over cross-LoC exchange of fire.
While tensions surged over killing of soldiers on the two sides, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said he was not ready for business as usual. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar this week proposed foreign ministerial level talks to contain the crisis and get back to peace process.
Nuland, speaking in that background at the daily briefing, welcomed moves to approach the LoC crisis through talks between the two nuclear neighbors.
“We think the best way to work through issues on the Line of Control (in Kashmir) is for India and Pakistan to work through directly. They are in direct talks now and that is something that we welcome,” the spokesperson added.
Pakistan and India have fought two full-scale wars over the UN-recognized Jammu and Kashmir dispute and the simmering tensions amid accusations in last two weeks have underscored the fragility of the bilateral gains the two South Asian powers have made over the last several years.
The tensions between the two countries resurfaced when, according to Pakistan’s foreign minister, Indian troops entered 400 meters inside the Pakistani-controlled Kashmir and killed one soldier. Since then, India has claimed its two soldiers were killed by Pakistan while Pakistan has reported the death of three of its soldiers in cross-LoC firing in the disputed Himalayan territory.
The United States has a high-stakes engagement with both nations and has been encouraging the two sides all along to improve relations and move towards resolution of the thorny Kashmir dispute in the region housing more than one fifth of humanity.
The history of last several decades shows that the United States, Pakistan and India are locked in an eternal triangle. Each time the two neighbors are at each other’s throat, Washington steps in to save the region from catastrophe. The nuclearisation of the region in 1998 – when in response to Indian test, Pakistan also went nuclear – has added to the international sensitivity to any conflagration in the region.
More recently in 2002, the U.S. led a high-powered diplomacy to retrieve Pakistan and India from the edge of disaster. Following 2008 Mumbai bombings, India was preparing to attack Pakistan, according to US senator John McCain. The U.S. again launched a diplomatic blitz to stop things from getting out of hands.
Islamabad and New Delhi are also competing for influence in Afghanistan as the White House works towards 2014 drawdown of forces from the landlocked country.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar last week said in New York that the lingering Kashmir dispute is holding back the entire South Asia from achieving peace and realizing its economic development potential.
- Khar proposes talks with Indian counterpart to ease tension on LOC (nation.com.pk)
- India is ‘warmongering’ over deadly clashes: Hina Rabbani Khar (thenewstribe.com)
- India-Pakistan truce takes hold in Kashmir (dawn.com)
- Pakistan summons Indian ambassador over killing of second soldier – Xinhua (news.xinhuanet.com)