SRINAGAR: The United States has asked India and Pakistan to resolve their bilateral issue, insisting it will encourage the neighbours to work towards a “stable relationship”.
“With regard to India-Pakistan, I would just note that we strongly believe that India and Pakistan’s issues are ones for them to work out between themselves,” Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Dean Thompson was quoted saying by the Press Trust of India. “We are pleased to see that the ceasefire that went into place earlier this year is – has remained intact, and we certainly always encourage them to continue their efforts to find ways to build a more stable relationship going forward.”
The comments came a week ahead of the visit of US Secretary of State Tony Blinken to India in which Afghanistan is expected to be a key discussion point.
“The situation in Afghanistan is expected to be one of the main topics on the agenda for Blinken’s discussions with his Indian interlocutors because of the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the country in the aftermath of an offensive by the Taliban to capture territory and crucial border crossings with Pakistan, Iran and Uzbekistan,” Hindustan Times reported. “India is concerned about the instability in Afghanistan spilling over into parts of the region and Pakistani terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed currently fighting alongside the Taliban turning their attention towards Kashmir.”
On the other side of the diplomacy in the region, Pakistan and Chinese foreign ministers – Wang Yi and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, met at Chengdu (China) where they outlined a five-point joint plan on working in Afghanistan. China accused the US of “hasty withdrawal” as a result of which they created “a new security black hole”.
Afghanistan apart, the joint statement issued after the meeting carried a reference to Kashmir also. The Kashmir reference, though nothing new, could have cropped up in wake of the killing of nine Chinese personnel in a bomb blast in Dasu (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) early this month.
“The Pakistani side briefed the Chinese side on the deteriorating situation in Jammu and Kashmir, including its concerns, position and current urgent issues,” the joint statement said. “The Chinese side reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left over from history between India and Pakistan, which is an objective fact, and that the dispute should be resolved peacefully and properly through the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.”
China and Pakistan have strongly opposed the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir and the reading down of key safeguards including Article 370 and Article 35A.
India had earlier rejected the reference to Kashmir by China and Pakistan, saying: “The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inalienable part of India and we expect the parties concerned not to interfere in matters that are internal affairs of India.”
China, media reports said had rushed a special team to Pakistan to probe the July 14 blast in a shuttle bus at the Dasu area of Upper Kohistan where a Chinese company is building a 4320-MW dam on the Indus river. The blast had accentuated Beijing’s concerns as thousands of Chinese personnel worked in the China-Pakistan installations and projects in Pakistan.