Washington Urges India, Pakistan to Hold Direct Talks on Kashmir

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The Biden administration has urged India and Pakistan to hold direct talks on Kashmir issue.

“When it comes to the US role, we continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price at the Thursday afternoon news briefing in Washington DC.

It was Biden administration’s first statement on occupied Kashmir.

The US official also welcomed the agreement between the two neighbors to de-escalate tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.

“And […] we certainly welcome the arrangement that was announced” in the region, he said.

Price mentioned this agreement in his opening statement and said he and other officials of the Biden administration have been urging the two neighboring countries to reduce their tensions since Jan 20, when Biden took oath as the new US president.

President Biden as the vice president in the Obama administration had a very warm relationship with Pakistan and saw Islamabad as a vital partner in the war in Afghanistan.

His administration expects Islamabad to stay engaged with the Taliban for restoring peace to the war-ravaged country.

During Trump’s administration, Pakistan had played a key role in arranging a peace deal between the Taliban and the U.S. –it was signed in Doha in February last year.

The Biden administration has said it respects the deal but needs more time to study its features.

“This has been interpreted as indicating that Biden may not fulfill the Trump administration’s pledge to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by May 1”, reports Dawn correspondent Anwar Iqbal based in Washington.

“This could further complicate Pakistan’s role as a mediator because the Taliban want all foreign troops to leave as agreed. Any delay in the withdrawal could further harden their attitude,” he adds.

COMMENT

Pakistan appears to have been handed with “conditions are not conducive” narrative for both sides of its borders –western and eastern: 1) “Conditions need to be conducive in Kashmir for plebiscite,” say UN and others. 2) “…conditions are not conducive to advancing the peace process in Afghanistan”, say US and European officials.

“The vital interests of powerful countries remain the same, just optics change,” says foreign affairs observer Amb. G. R. Baloch.

A Pakistani defense and security expert says: “Conditions east and west will remain not so conducive. Pakistan will have to do the following:”

A. Stabilize internal front politically and economically.

B. Adopt foreign policies to at least achieve standstill status on issues core to our national interests for the near future. The Chinese policy of One China served it well till they are in a position to get by any means what they assert to be theirs.

C. Our foreign policy to open new options for Pakistan vis-a-vis China, Russia, Iran, Middle East and Far East.