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Pakistan Tries To Link Kashmir With US Afghanistan Strategy

Pakistan may want to link Kashmir to the US’s revamped Afghanistan strategy but Washington today made it clear Kashmir isn’t part of the equation.

The US said its position on the troubled Indian state remains intact: Both sides should sit down and talk.

The US state department today was firm about this in response to a specific media question on the issue.

The question: “…does the U.S. see pushing for a solution on Kashmir as part of this regional strategy to deal with Afghanistan?”

The state department spokeswoman indicated “no” saying that nothing has changed with regard to the US policy on Kashmir.

“In terms of Kashmir, our policy on that has not changed. We continue to encourage the sides to sit down and talk together about that,” said spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

Pakistan, on the other hand, went right ahead and linked the US’s revamped Afghan strategy – which included possibly the harshest warning toward Pakistan in recent times about it harbouring terrorists – to Kashmir.

Here’s what Pakistan foreign ministry said, in an official statement, after US President Donald Trump announced the US’s new strategy for Afghanistan and the region:

“The threat to peace and security cannot be isolated from the complex interplay of geopolitics, continued existence of festering disputes and pursuit of hegemonic policies. Non-resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains the primary obstacle to peace and stability in the region,” said Pakistan’s foreign office statement.

To be sure, the US state department spokeswoman did say that the new regional strategy incorporates India and Pakistan, but she made it clear it was from a “30,000 feet” up perspective

“Well, I think going up to 30,000 feet, we view the whole strategy and handling Afghanistan as being a regional strategy, and that, of course, incorporates India as well as Pakistan…”, said Nauert.

Still, for the US, that doesn’t mean Kashmir, it means anything that will make Afghanistan stable again.

To that extent, “…incorporating all the nations in that region who can – we believe can help assist and help make Afghanistan a stable place where you’ll never have a terror group that will take root in that country again and can launch attacks on other countries”, is a regional approach.

Trump, in fact, went one step further in getting India involved in its Afghanistan strategy, in a manner that makes Islamabad extremely uncomfortable. He said specifically while announcing the new Afghanistan strategy that the US wants India “to help us more with Afghanistan”.

Pakistan has ad infinitum tried to internationalise the Kashmir issue by trying to get the US, UN and others involved. But to no avail. Now, cornered, even by the US, it’s rattled.

The New York Times reported yesterday, citing unnamed sources, that “Trump’s appeal for India’s help on Afghanistan set off alarm bells on Tuesday in Pakistan, where officials warned that the approach risked jolting a tumultuous relationship.”
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