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Address Kashmir, Zardari tells US

While the US made it clear that its new special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan has no mandate to deal with Kashmir, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has sought to inject the issue into his brief, reports V Krishna.

world Updated: Jan 29, 2009 13:13 IST
V Krishna
V Krishna
Hindustan Times

Pakistan is clearly unhappy at being clubbed with Afghanistan as a troubled state and is trying to get the Obama administration to hyphenate it again with India, still issue No. 1 for Islamabad.

In an op-ed piece in Wednesday’s Washington Post, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari urges President Barack Obama to expand special emissary Richard Holbrooke’s brief to include Kashmir and other disputes between India and Pakistan.

“Much as the Palestinian issue remains the core obstacle to peace in the Middle East, the question of Kashmir must be addressed in some meaningful way to bring stability to this region,” Zardari writes.

“We hope that the special envoy will work with India and Pakistan not only to bring a just and reasonable resolution to the issues of Kashmir and Jammu but also to address critical economic and environmental concerns.

“The water crisis in Pakistan is directly linked to relations with India. Resolution could prevent an environmental catastrophe in South Asia, but failure to do so could fuel the fires of discontent that lead to extremism and terrorism.”

Pakistan can win the fight against terror only if it is stable and economically viable, and for that it needs US assistance, Zardari says.

He urges Obama to push Congress to pass a bill introduced last year that would increase non-military aid to $1.5 billion a year.

Officially, Holbrooke is special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. India is opposed to any third-party mediation on Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said that Pakistan will release details of an investigation into the Mumbai attacks “very soon”.

“We are investigating ... anything substantive we will share with the world,” he told Reuters in an interview in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, where business and political leaders are meeting.

“Very soon, whatever the findings, we will come to the world,” he said.

On Tuesday, Defence Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States will continue missile strikes against Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan.

First Published: Jan 28, 2009 22:04 IST