Pak harps on `US role` in settling Kashmir issue

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the US should play a role in settling the longstanding Kashmir dispute with India as the goal of regional peace and stability cannot be achieved without resolving this issue.

Updated: Oct 24, 2010, 23:42 PM IST

Lahore: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah
Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday said the US should play a role in
settling the longstanding Kashmir dispute with India as the
goal of regional peace and stability cannot be achieved
without resolving this issue.

Pakistan has no objections to the US playing a role in
resolving the dispute though India is opposed to any such
move, he said, while briefing reporters on the just concluded
third round of the Pakistan-US Strategic Dialogue.

Asked about the role of the US in settling the
six-decade-old Kashmir dispute, Qureshi said: "They
(Americans) say there should be peace in this region and we
want this too".

"I am telling them that if lasting peace is to be
achieved in this region, we must find a solution to the
Kashmir issue. As long as this problem remains, relations
between India and Pakistan cannot be normalised," the
Minister said.

Without the normalisation of bilateral relations,
there will be "a question mark over peace in the region" and
the activities of SAARC will be affected, he said.

"If you desire regional stability and a regional
approach, (the US) should play a role, just as the US and the
World Bank acted as mediators in the water dispute between
India and Pakistan (in the 1950s)," he said.

Qureshi said he had forcefully raised the Kashmir
issue during his last meeting with Indian External Affairs
Minister S M Krishna in July and would raise it again when he
visits India.

"It is not possible that the Pakistani Foreign
Minister goes to India and does not express solidarity with
the Kashmiris and present Pakistan?s views on Kashmir," he
said.

Though separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir had
expressed concerns about "confused signals" emanating from
Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, they were now relieved after
Islamabad presented its views on the dispute at the UN General
Assembly session and various forums in the US, Qureshi
claimed.

"We want good relations and talks with India. We want
peace in India and this region. We believe that if our
relations are normalised and become better, then not only
Pakistan but India too will benefit," he said.

The water issue affects relations between India and
Pakistan because both countries share the same sources of
water, the Pakistani leader said.

He said the US "has to give importance to this issue
and investments will have to be made in Pakistan’s water
projects”. During the Strategic Dialogue which ended on Friday,
Pakistan exchanged views with the US on civil nuclear
cooperation and Pakistan?s energy requirements.

"There should be no discrimination in US policy.

India has energy needs and you gave them (a civil nuclear
deal). If we have energy needs, talk to us too," he said.

Despite managing to get USD 2.29 billion in fresh
military aid, Pakistan had failed to extract anything from the
US on two key issues of civilian nuclear deal similar to that
of India and American intervention in resolving the Kashmir
issue.

US State Department spokesman P J Crowley in
Washington had clarified that the US has no role to play in
the Kashmir issue and both India and Pakistan has to resolve
it bilaterally.

PTI