The US has urged India and Pakistan to hold dialogue to de-escalate tensions, saying they don’t want the relations to worsen and “lead to some kind of incident”. The response from the US State Department comes as ties between the two South Asian neighbours has soured markedly.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pointedly referred to Pakistan as the “one country” responsible for spreading terrorism in South Asia in his successive multilateral meetings, including the G20. Pakistan has hit back, accusing India of being that “one country”. US State Department spokesperson, Mark Toner, on being asked if the US should mediate between India Pakistan, said on Thursday: “We strongly encourage in all of our dealings with either India and/or Pakistan stronger relations between the two countries.”
In a clear reference to the rising bilateral tensions, Toner said: “It’s clearly in the security interests of the region that they work to de-escalate tensions and that they have dialogue. “And that’s something we constantly encourage for just that – or out of just that concern, which is that we don’t want to see tensions escalate, spiral out of control, and lead to some kind of incident. Again, it’s important for the two countries, the two governments to maintain strong, cordial, and productive relations.”
Tension between India and Pakistan have soared over the Kashmir unrest after Islamabad termed Hizbul militant commander Burhan Wani as a “martyr”. Wani was killed on July 8 in an encounter with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, sparking clashes that have led to at least 76 civilian deaths so far. India has also protested against Pakistan’s attempts to internationalise the Kashmir issue.
The January 2 terror attack on the Pathankot air base in India, which New Delhi has blamed on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed militants, also led to souring of relations.
In the meantime, earlier in the day Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar without referring to Pakistan said, “It is not only the state actors and the non-state actors, at some stage the differentiation is not borne out on the crowd. There is a connection between state actors and non-state actors which is why we use the words it’s sponsored. The state cannot escape responsibility by saying it is non-state. We have always maintained the view that acting against some group is not a justification for giving a free pass leave along active support for other groups. You can’t have a segmented, differentiated fight against terrorism.”