NEW YORK\: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Friday said Washington can play a “facilitating role” in resolving Indo-Pak tensions.
Noting that Kashmir was an “outstanding issue” between India and Pakistan, Qureshi stressed that bilateral talks between India and Pakistan on Kashmir was always the first preference, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported. “I know India is allergic to third party intervention,” the minister said, in response to a question at the Asia Society where Qureshi was speaking, and further added that intervention did not mean “dictating terms.”
“They (US) can play a facilitating role but ultimately we have to see what Kashmiris want,” he continued.”The US is a friend and ally of India,” the minister pointed out, noting that President Barack Obama, speaking at the UN, had mentioned his visit to India and called the country a “thriving democracy.”
Qureshi and Krishna are in Washington to attend the opening week of the General Assembly but plans of a bilateral between them have not been firmed up. Qureshi told PTI that “arrangements are under negotiation.” Qureshi and Krishna had a “chance encounter” Thursday at the UN where they greeted each other warmly and talked about the floods in Pakistan. The possibilities of a meeting between the two leaders are still being explored through diplomatic channels though “there is no decision as yet.”
During his visit, Qureshi has been consistently calling for US intervention in Kashmir but Washington has showed no inclination to get involved in what India maintain are “internal matters.” Addressing a small gathering at the Asia Society, Qureshi described Kashmir as the “festering sore of South Asia.”The United States, as the world leader, has special responsibility towards finding a just and peaceful solution of Kashmir,” the minister said.
“Occupation and persecution cannot kill Kashmiri spirit. They are demanding their right to self-determination,” he added. This follows his remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York based think tank, where he said, “We call upon the United States particularly, which is pressing so responsibly for peace in the Middle East, to also invest its political capital in trying to help seek an accommodation for Kashmir.”
At the same time, Qureshi underscored that the need for peace between Pakistan and India, and underlined that there existed several areas of potential cooperation between the two countries including combating climate change, terrorism and poverty. Describing Krishna’s last visit to Pakistan as “useful,” Qureshi stressed the importance of resuming the “composite dialogue” and get the peace process on track.
Meanwhile India on Saturday said it was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including the core issue of Kashmir. “Everything that they want to discuss and everything we want to discuss with them will be discussed,” during Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s possible visit to India for talks, Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna told Press Trust of India (PTI).
He was reacting to questions on recent Pakistan Foreign Office statement that there can be no result-oriented discussions with India on Kashmir unless it stops treating it as its integral part and Qureshi’s remarks seeking US intervention on the issue. Krishna, who is in New York for the UN General Assembly session, said he looked forward to hosting Qureshi in India.
“Well I was in Islamabad and we did talk and I have invited Excellency Qureshi to come to India and he has very graciously accepted my invitation,” Krishna said, adding: “I am looking forward to hosting him in Delhi… and the dates have to be worked out.” Qureshi has raised the issue of Kashmir several times during the past few days and called for international intervention.
“India wants to keep Pakistan engaged in talks because we do not see any other alternatives…talks are the only way to take this forward,” the Indian minister said. “I think India has already reacted to whatever Foreign Minister Qureshi has said and I do not have to repeat…,” he said in response to a question. NNI