As India and Pakistan hobble towards a meeting between foreign ministers S.M. Krishna and Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, a set of complications have come up.
The possibility of Islamabad trying to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN has become a bone of contention. Though officials admitted that Jammu and Kashmir had a bearing on the meeting, Qureshi cranked up the volume by seeking US mediation.
Islamabad also conveyed to New Delhi that it was looking for “timeline”-based discussions, picking up the threads from what the “composite dialogue had achieved”. India had called off composite dialogue after the 26/11 attacks.
“If they (Krishna and Qureshi) meet, we are ready to discuss all issues. But Pakistan also has to introspect that the terrorism they sponsor is a major reason for unrest in Kashmir. The meeting will give us a chance to air our views. And dialogue, we have maintained, is the way forward,” said a foreign ministry official.
In a conference call with members of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Qureshi said he wanted the US to “invest its political capital” to “help seek an accommodation on
Kashmir”. But a ministry source said, “Our position remains the same that Jammu and Kashmir is a bilateral issue and we don’t see any third-party mediation.”
It is unlikely that Qureshi’s latest outburst will derail the dialogue process. India has already said it is ready to discuss all “outstanding issues” with Pakistan, including Kashmir.
Qureshi’s latest plea to the US is unlikely to gain much traction since the Obama administration has adopted a hands-off attitude in the matter.