Pakistan Still Hopes For U.S. Mediation On Kashmir24 March 2010
Washington DC: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that Pakistan still hoped the United States would play a “constructive” role in resolving the Kashmir dispute and providing it with “non-discriminatory” access to energy. Mr. Qureshi said: “Pakistan seeks peaceful resolution to all issues in South Asia, including Kashmir. We hope the U.S. will maintain its constructive engagement to encourage this process.” At a press conference at the start of a Strategic Dialogue between the two countries, Mr. Qureshi said an improved relationship “is good for Pakistan, good for America and good for international peace, security and prosperity.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton similarly affirmed, “It is the start of something new.” However, she added, “Our countries have had our misunderstandings and disagreements in the past and there are sure to be more disagreements in the future, as there are between any friends or, frankly, any family members.” Hinting at a fresh start in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, she said, “But this is a new day. For the past year, the Obama administration has shown in our words and deeds a different approach and attitude toward Pakistan.” She added that the dialogue the U.S. sought was not only with the government of Pakistan but also the people of Pakistan. Mr. Qureshi's reference to “non-discriminatory” access to energy was a reiteration of Pakistan's request for a civilian nuclear deal with the U.S., similar to the agreement reached with India two years ago. However in an earlier interview Ms. Clinton had said that the civilian nuclear deal with India was “the result of many, many years of strategic dialogue.” It did not happen easily or quickly, she added, further saying: “I think on the energy issue specifically, there are more immediate steps that can be taken that have to help with the grid, have to help with other sources of energy, to upgrade power plants and the like.” Meanwhile, Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan said New Delhi and Islamabad should resolve disputes bilaterally and the U.S. administration did not see a role for itself unless called upon by both countries to mediate. Speaking at a joint press conference here with Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Mr. Holbrooke added that Washington would continue to encourage both countries to talk to each other on all issues. However, he refused to comment on Kashmir, saying that he did not have a mandate to do so.