US sticking to "traditional anti-Pak policies" on core issues with India: Pak official

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Islamabad, Nov 6 (ANI): As US President Barack Obama left for a three-day visit to India on Friday, a senior Pakistani official accused the United States of following its "traditional anti-Pakistan policies" on core issues, including the Kashmir dispute.

"Unfortunately, on core issues, the US continues to stick to its traditional anti-Pakistan policies - whether it is our nuclear energy programme, the Kashmir dispute, our relations with India or our position vis-a-vis Afghanistan," The Washington Post quoted a senior Foreign Ministry official, as saying, on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the relationship.

"So long as Washington does not revisit these issues, it will continue to be very difficult for Washington to make any headway on winning hearts and minds in Pakistan," the official added.

Obama's decision to spend three days in India beginning Saturday, while bypassing Pakistan, has sparked anxiety among government officials in Islamabad, who warn that the US president risks upsetting the delicate balance of power between the nuclear-armed neighbours, the paper said.

Among the Pakistanis' chief concerns are the Obama administration's apparent unwillingness to get involved in the long-standing dispute over Kashmir; the blossoming US-India civil nuclear partnership; and the symbolism of Obama starting his visit at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, site of the 2008 siege that killed 173 people, and that has been blamed on Pakistani militants, it added.

"If there is an effort to build India up as a regional influence, a country that is assigned the responsibility for security in the region, that is unacceptable for Pakistan," said Maleeha Lodhi, a former ambassador to Washington, adding, "Clearly, for deterrence to work, we need the minimum threshold of conventional balance."

Pakistani officials say they are particularly interested in seeing Obama push India to do more to settle the decades-old dispute over Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan, the paper said.

"We expect America to use its influence to nudge India in the direction of initiating a peaceful dialogue on the Kashmir situation," said Tariq Fatemi, another former Pakistani ambassador to the United States. "And if that is difficult, then at least use your position to point out to India that the interest in human rights is deep and broad-based in America and you cannot have daily violations of human rights."

According to the paper, Pakistani government officials said that, at the least, they expect Obama "to avoid the confrontational stance taken by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said during a July speech in India that Pakistan is promoting the 'export of terror'." (ANI)

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