Sharif again seeks US mediation on Kashmir issue
Washington: Rejecting the assertion that Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday asked the US to help his country resolve its outstanding issues with India, including the "core" dispute of Kashmir.
On the eve of his meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, Sharif contended the US was well placed to resolve the differences because of its growing relationship with India. His insistence on American mediation on Kashmir came despite the rejection of such a move by both the US and India.
Addressing the think tank US Institute of Pakistan (USIP) here, Sharif said Pakistan is "neither a source of, nor the epicentre of terrorism, as is sometimes alleged".
"In fact, Pakistan itself has been a major victim of terrorism for over a decade," he said. Sharif acknowledged that the greatest challenge to Pakistan comes from terrorism and extremism.
His remarks were an apparent response to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assertion during a meeting with Obama last month that Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism in India's neighbourhood.
Reiterating his call for American mediation to resolve issues with India, Sharif said, "With its growing influence in India, the US now has the capacity to do more to help the two sides resolve their core disputes, including Kashmir, and in promoting a culture of cooperation."
Pakistan, he said, appreciates the constructive role the US has "historically played in defusing tensions between Pakistan and India".
Earlier this week, Sharif's call for US intervention on the Kashmir issue was roundly dismissed by India, which said no one should question Jammu and Kashmir's status as an integral part of the country. The US said there had not been an "iota of change" in its policy and the the dispute was a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan.
During his speech, Sharif played up Pakistan's stated position that the Kashmir issue is a regional "flashpoint".
"Kashmir, of course, is a very difficult issue and very difficult to resolve, but I think by sitting and talking, we will be able to find some way of resolving that too, because that is a flashpoint not only in the region but in the whole world," he said.
"Any solution which can come about will not be able to come about unless and until the people of all three sides put their endorsement to this — the people of India, people of Pakistan and the people of Kashmir."