US admits inconsistency in describing J&K, but no policy change

Washington: US officials have acknowledged that there have been inconsistencies in the American description of Jammu and Kashmir, but insisted there was no change in its policy, saying the “pace, scope and character” of any discussion on Kashmir is for India and Pakistan to determine.

“Our policy on Kashmir has not changed,” a state department spokesperson said. The clarification came after questions were raised about the different ways the US has described Jammu and Kashmir.

Recently in one of its statements, the US described it as “Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir” and this week it said the “Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir”.

In June while designating Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin as a “specially-designated global terrorist”, the state department had said the militant group has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014 attack in “Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir”.

India, however, had played down the nomenclature by the US, saying similar terms had been used previously too. In the past, the US had also used “India-held Kashmir”.

In the latest “Country Report on Terrorism 2016”, released on Wednesday, the US used “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” to describe Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The use of the word “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” by the state department was strongly opposed by the Indian government.

US officials acknowledged that there have been inconsistency in the American way of describing Jammu and Kashmir, but insisted there has been no change in its policy.

“Our policy on Kashmir has not changed. The pace, scope, and character of any discussions on Kashmir is for the two sides to determine, but we support any and all positive steps India and Pakistan can take to forge closer relations,” the spokesperson said.