Need to resolve Kashmir issue, say Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, Barack Obama in joint statement

WASHINGTON:Kashmir and violence along the LoC figured in a joint statement issued by US President Barack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday, both of whom called for a “sustained and resilient” Indo-Pak dialogue process to resolve all outstanding issues.

The references to Indo-Pak ties and the need to resolve all outstanding disputes, including Kashmir, between the two countries were contained in a statement by the two leaders released by the Pakistan Foreign Office. Obama and Sharif underlined that improvement in Pakistan-India bilateral relations would “greatly enhance” prospects for lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in the region, according to the statement.

The two leaders also expressed concern over violence along the Line of Control, and pledged their support for confidence-building measures and “effective mechanisms” that are acceptable to both parties, it said.

“The leaders emphasised the importance of a sustained and resilient dialogue process between the two neighbours aimed at resolving all outstanding territorial and other disputes, including Kashmir, through peaceful means and working together to address mutual concerns of India and Pakistan regarding terrorism,” the statement said.

Sharif apprised Obama about Pakistan’s resolve to take “effective action” against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its affiliates, as per its international commitments and obligations under UN Security Council resolutions.

The statement was released soon after Sharif and Obama held their bilateral talks at the White Office’s Oval Office. Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and Afghanistan-based dreaded Haqqani network are not banned in Pakistan. India has been pressing Islamabad to take action against Saeed who has been spewing venom against India and the US. Pakistan has, however, ruled out the possibility of banning JuD and maintained that there is no evidence to link it with terrorism and the outlawed LeT.

Sharif acknowledged the ongoing counterterrorism efforts that have driven the US-Pakistan security cooperation since the 9/11 attacks.

Affirming that this security relationship has been and will continue to be integral to regional stability, both Sharif and Obama noted that the stability of South Asia “depended on cooperation among all neighbours to suppress all extremist and militant groups operating in the region”. Obama and Sharif said they recognised the shared interest in strategic stability in South Asia.

The two leaders underscored that all sides should continuously act with “maximum restraint” and “work jointly” toward strengthening strategic stability in South Asia. “They acknowledged the importance of regional balance and stability in South Asia and pursuing increased transparency and uninterrupted dialogue in support of peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes,” the statement said.

Both leaders also discussed the continuing threat of nuclear terrorism amid concerns over the safety of Pakistan’s existing nuclear arsenal as well as the pace at which such weapons are being produced.

The joint statement did not mention whether the two countries will sign a civil nuclear deal, similar to the one the US has with India. The statement added that Obama welcomed Pakistan’s “constructive engagement with the Nuclear Security Summit process and its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international forums.

The leaders noted Pakistan’s efforts to improve its strategic trade controls and enhance its engagement with multilateral export control regimes. Recognising the importance of bilateral engagement in the Security, Strategic Stability and Non-Proliferation Working Group, the two leaders noted that both sides will continue to stay engaged to further build on the ongoing discussions in the working group, it said.