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Pak formally asks US to mediate over Kashmir dispute

By Nairita Das

Washington, Oct 23 (ANI): Ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to India next month, Pakistan has stepped up pressure on the United States by formally asking it to mediate over the longstanding Kashmir issue.

"President Obama has always understood the importance of Kashmir solution. His coming visit to the region is the time to begin to redeem the pledge that he made earlier," The Nation quoted Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, as saying, while co-chairing the third round of the US-Pak Strategic Dialogue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on its closing day.

As a presidential candidate in 2008, Obama had suggested that the US should encourage India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute so Pakistan could better focus on fighting extremists on its own territory and Afghanistan.

Obama must get involved because a crackdown against the people of Kashmir threatens the entire region, said Qureshi, adding that it is in "the US strategic interest to work for peace, stability and resolution of the disputes in South Asia... The starting point in this quest is justice for the Kashmiri people."

The minister went on to say, "People of conscience have protested the use of force against the defenseless people of Kashmir, in particular the targeting of the Kashmiri youth... "But the Kashmiri mothers are baffled by the deafening silence of the world's leadership. History has proved that the force of arms cannot suppress the legitimate aspirations of the Kashmiri people."

Just a few days back, US State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley had ruled out US mediation in the dispute, saying that both countries should resolve it bilaterally.

"We have not been asked by both countries to play a particular role," Crowley said in response to a question about Pakistan's pleas for US role in resolving the dispute. "But this is the reason why, for a number of reasons, we continue to encourage further dialogue between India and Pakistan." (ANI)

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