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‘US Should Facilitate Indo-Pak Talks To Prevent Escalation Of Kashmir Crisis’

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Experts have stated that the United States should facilitate talks between India and Pakistan to prevent an escalation of conflict between the nuclear arch-rivals.

The India US Friendship Organisation (Indus), along with the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, recently hosted a panel titled, ‘Kashmir Crisis – what happens next?’.

The panel experts included Indus President, Raza Rumi, associate professor of South Asia Studies at SAIS, Joshua J. White, American-Pakistan Foundation President Shamila N. Chaudhary. The event was moderated by Irfan Nooruddin, the Atlantic Council’s Director at South Asia Center.

The talk began with the question of whether nuclear war was a possibility.

Shamila Chaudhary stated that the danger of a nuclear risk is far higher now than in the past and this was a very real threat that needed to be addressed. She questioned whether the US should be the country to take the lead in mediation for the conflict despite US President Donald Trump’s recent offer.

She further asked why the US should care about Kashmir when Trump had repeatedly stated that he no longer wanted the United States involved in foreign wars.

Shamil questioned why one would expect the US to play a part in resolving the conflict between India and Pakistan when it hadn’t done much in the Middle East.

To the question of whether nuclear war was a possibility, Raza Rumi responded that bilateral talks between India and Pakistan had reached a deadlock for many months now, adding that by not mediating, the world risked an escalation of conflict between the nuclear armed states.

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He stated, “We need some someone to nudge both sides to talk,” further saying that Pakistan did not expect the US to resolve the Kashmir issue but the facilitation of talks could lead to a resolution.”

The Indus president opined, “India enjoys a good relationship with the US and Pakistan too has recently repaired its relationship with the US.” He explained that both countries had a degree of trust in their relationship with the US which placed it in a unique position to intervene and instigate a dialogue between the two countries. “The more diplomatic talks are stalled, the more dangerous it is for the region and the world.” Rumi said.

He added that without US intervention, a very clear nuclear threat existed and if that escalated, it would not just be an issue for South Asia, but would also be a global threat.

Moreover, academic Joshua White argued that the US government did not want to change the longstanding US policy position on the Kashmir issue. “The US does not want to actively force itself into a mediated role because of India’s opposition to the role – there is nothing the U.S. can do to change that,” he said.

He stressed that America had intentionally rejected any attempts by Pakistan to link the situation in Kashmir to nuclear escalation, or the situation in Kashmir to the future of Afghanistan.

Pakistan, he said, had intimated that things could get more complicated in Afghanistan, but the US had rightly said that it saw the two issues as separate.

White further highlighted the ‘challenge’ Pakistan currently faces in taking the higher moral ground. He grounded his point in the fact that Pakistan had changed the status of Gilgit Baltistan to an area under its own control, ceded territory to China in 1963 and had refused to criticize China’s detention of hundreds and thousands of Uighur Muslims.

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In response to this, Rumi argued that the treatment of Uighur Muslims was condemnable but India should be held accountable given that it was a democratic country with a constitution and claimed it self to be the largest democracy in the world.

He added that India was carrying out human rights violations while it was a democracy but China has not even claimed to be one. “In fact, the current situation in Kashmir is undermining India’s democratic credentials,” he argued.

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