Nawaz Sharif urges US to ‘play its role’ in solving Kashmir issue

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today urged the US to “play its role” in solving the Kashmir issue with India as he met a delegation of powerful American senators, days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump had their first bilateral meeting.

During the meeting, Sharif expressed serious concern over the “gross human rights violations and brutal repression of unarmed Kashmiris”.

A statement from his office said that he underscored the “legitimacy” of the Kashmir cause and urged the international community, especially the US, “to play its role in ending the sufferings” of the people of Kashmir.
The US delegation was led by Senator John McCain, the chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee which is empowered with legislative oversight of American military.

The five-member delegation yesterday had urged India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue, Dawn newspaper reported.

Around the time Modi-Sharif met at the White House on June 26-27, the US appeared to move away from Pakistani stance on Kashmir as its state department declared Kashmiri militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen’s chief Syed Salahuddin a “global terrorist”.

The announcement was a severe blow to Pakistan which has been projecting the 71-year-old leader as a “freedom fighter”.

Also, the Indo-US joint statement did not mention the Kashmir issue.

On June 30, Sharif expressed disappointment over the “complete silence” in the India-US joint statement on the “atrocities” in Kashmir and ordered the ministry to “highlight” rights violations in the Valley.

During Sharif’s meeting with the American senators today, his adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz, National Security Adviser Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua and other senior officials were present.

Sharif said Pakistan-US strategic partnership was “essential” to deal with the various challenges confronting the region and beyond.

Senator McCain agreed that continued cooperation between the US and Pakistan was required to secure peace and stability in the region, the statement said.

The Pakistani prime minister apprised the senators about his government’s efforts to combat terrorism and the “marked improvement” in Pakistan’s security situation.

Sharif reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to support all efforts aimed at lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and said concerted efforts were needed for a political settlement under an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process, the statement said.

He said a strong partnership between the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan was a “prerequisite” for sustainable peace and stressed on the importance of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) mechanism to facilitate Afghan reconciliation.

According to the Pakistan Army spokesman, the delegation and Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited South Waziristan tribal district.

The US embassy in a separate statement said the two-day visit of the delegation was aimed at strengthening the bilateral ties.

The senators were taken for an aerial survey of the Federally Administered Tribal Area (also called tribal region) and saw the infrastructure projects built with US assistance.

In December 2016, the US embassy had signed a pact to provide more than Rs 8.5 billion for a dam project in North Waziristan. Also the US has helped Pakistan with an irrigation project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.