Delhi unperturbed by Sharif's request

Diplomacy games: Pak PM wants Obama to raise Kashmir issue

Delhi unperturbed by Sharif's request

Even as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appealed to US President Barack Obama to take up the “cause of Kashmir” with leaders of India, New Delhi remained unperturbed and unflinching in its position that no “third party” had any role in its bilateral dispute with Islamabad.

Obama called up Sharif soon after New Delhi and Washington announced that US President would attend the next Republic Day ceremony of India on an invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The call was apparently an attempt by Washington to assuage any feeling of hurt in Islamabad over US president’s decision to accept the invitation from Modi even as tension between India and Pakistan of late has escalated. Sharif, however, utilised the opportunity to blame New Delhi for the current state of India-Pakistan relation.

“The prime minister (Sharif) referred to his visit to India earlier this year, which was aimed at taking Pakistan-India relations forward. Subsequent unfortunate steps on India’s part, including cancellation of foreign secretary level talks and the unprovoked firing across the LoC (Line of Control) / Working Boundary resulting in civilian casualties, indicated that India was averse to normalisation of relations with Pakistan,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan stated in a press-release .

“Thus,” it added, “while we remain open to the resumption of bilateral dialogue, the onus is on India to create a conducive environment in this regard”. Islamabad also claimed that the US president “expressed his understanding” for the position of Pakistan.

“The prime minister (Sharif) also urged President Obama to take up the cause of Kashmir with the Indian leadership, as its early resolution would bring enduring peace, stability and economic cooperation to Asia,” it stated.

Sources in New Delhi said that Sharif’s plea to Obama would not make any difference as India would remain firm on its position that no third party had any scope to play any role in resolving Kashmir and other bilateral disputes between India and Pakistan.

New Delhi already made it clear that the framework provided by the Shimla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Declaration of 1999 was the only one within which India and Pakistan should seek to resolve all outstanding issues.

India had earlier dismissed Pakistan’s effort to raise the issue of Kashmir at the United Nations. Modi’s invitation to Sharif to attend the swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on May 26 and the positive response from the latter raised the hope for a thaw in the complex India-Pakistan relation.

But New Delhi called off its foreign secretary level dialogue with Islamabad in August, after Pakistan decided to consult separatist leaders of Kashmir before holding talks with India.

Ceasefire violation by Pakistani Army and retaliation by the Indian Army and Border Security Force along the LoC as well as the undisputed stretches of the border further simmered up tension between the two neighbours.

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