Linking the Kashmir problem with the West Asia conflict, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has asked the U.S. to demonstrate “neutrality” and step up efforts to “mediate” on the issue between India and Pakistan.
In an op-ed published in The New York Times, he also accused India of playing destabilising role in the region and said that the perceived “rhetorical” one-sided American policy often fuels conspiracy theories in Pakistan.
“Public mistrust of the United States also stems from regional issues, specifically policies concerning India. I know it is the conventional wisdom in Washington that my nation is obsessed with India,” he wrote.
“But even to those of us who are striving toward accommodation and peace, the long history and the unresolved situation in Kashmir give Pakistanis reason to be concerned about our neighbour to the east.”
Just as the Israeli-Palestinian dispute cannot be resolved without accommodating the Palestinian people, “there cannot be permanent regional peace in South Asia without addressing Kashmir,” said Mr. Zardari.
While welcoming the Kerry-Lugar bill under, which his country gets $7.5 billion from America in the next five years, he said this was not enough.
“This long-term commitment must be complemented by short-term policies that demonstrate American neutrality and willingness to help India and Pakistan overcome their mutual distrust. It could start by stepping up its efforts to mediate the Kashmir dispute,” he said.
Mr. Zardari said the “recent upset” in Pakistan over the Kerry-Lugar legislation, which U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law and which requires the Secretary of State to report to Congress on military and civil progress in Pakistan, shows how sensitive many in his country were to what they see as unfair treatment by the U.S.
“It would be helpful if the United States, at some point, would scrutinise India in a similar fashion and acknowledge that it has from time to time played a destabilising role in the region,” he wrote.
In his article titled ‘How to Mend Fences with Pakistan,’ Mr. Zardari said he along with Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani is working closely with National Assembly and military and intelligence agencies to defeat the Taliban insurgency and the Al-Qaeda-backed campaign of terrorism.
“Simultaneously, we are pursuing policies that will re-establish Pakistan as a vibrant economic market and finally address the long-neglected weaknesses in our education, health, agriculture and energy sectors. This isn’t just rhetoric it is an active policy with new budget priorities and a reoriented national mindset,” he said.