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FO expressed concerned over Indo-US joint statement

29 June, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Wednesday was worried by the recent Indo-US joint statement and expressed the concern that it could add to tensions between Pakistan and India.

“The joint statement is singularly unhelpful in achieving the objective of strategic stability and durable peace in the South Asian region. By failing to address key sources of tension and instability in the region, the statement aggravates an already tense situation,” the FO said in response to the Indo-US joint statement, titled ‘Prosperity Through Partnership’ that was issued on Tuesday after President Donald Trump’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House.

The FO is concerned about the statement’s strong language on terrorist attacks that India alleges originated from Pakistan, and about the US not raising the issue of human rights violations in India-held Kashmir (IHK) and the US sale of high-tech military hardware to India.

The statement had noted: “The leaders called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries. They further called on Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups.”

The latest statement is believed to contain the strongest wording so far on alleged cross-border incidents and “Pakistan-based groups” as compared to joint statements issued by the two countries in the past, although all carried similar messages.

The US had, ahead of the Trump-Modi meeting, listed Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, a move hailed by India as evidence of US cooperation against terrorism.

Syed Mohammed Yusuf Shah, or Syed Salahuddin, was born and raised in Soibugh, Budgam, in the Kashmir valley.

He was influenced by the Jamaat-i-Islami during his time at university and became a member of its chapter in Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1987, Yusuf Shah decided to contest the J&K assembly election on the ticket of the Muslim United Front. He came second after Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah of the moderate National Conference won the seat and was arrested and put in jail for his violent agitations.

After his arrest for violent protests and release in 1989, he joined the Hizbul Mujahideen, founded by Mohammad Ahsan Dar alias “Master”, who later parted ways with the organization. Salahuddin took over as chief in 1990 and then adopted his current name after Salahuddin Ayubi, the 12th century Muslim military leader who fought in the crusades.

The pronouncements are particularly worrisome for Pakistan given that the Trump administration is in the final phase of formulating its South Asia policy and the indication from this statement is that the US could be inching closer to the Indian position on alleged cross-border incidents.

“Pakistan has been the primary victim of terrorism in the region. Pakistan’s contributions and sacrifices in fighting terrorism are unmatched. No country has sacrificed as much as Pakistan, not only in material resources but in lives,” FO said.

The FO further underscored that Pakistan was making steady progress “in eliminating terrorists and their networks from our soil without discrimination”. It reiterated the commitment to “bring the fight against terrorism to its logical conclusion by eliminating this scourge from our soil.”

Pakistan, the FO said, expected the international community to unequivocally stand with it in this fight against terrorism.

The FO recalled that India, which was seeking to appropriate a leadership role in the fight against terror”, was behind terrorism in Pakistan by supporting the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) “as a proxy”.

Without mentioning Salahuddin’s designation, the FO said US move was unacceptable.

“Any attempt to equate the peaceful indigenous Kashimiri struggle with terrorism, and to designate individuals supporting the right to self determination as terrorists is unacceptable,” it said.

The FO regretted that President Trump did not use his meeting with PM Modi to nudge him to make peace with its neighbour. It said it was “missed opportunity” for pushing India to “alter its policies inimical to peace in the region” and end “persistent gross human rights violations in Kashmir and state backed persecution of religious minorities in India”.

Pakistan, it recalled, firmly believed in the legitimacy of the Kashmir cause and supported Kashmiris struggle, but was at the same time “ready and committed to resolve all outstanding disputes, especially Jammu & Kashmir, with India through peaceful means and in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions”.
Defence cooperation

The Indo-US joint re-emphasised the growing strategic convergence between the two countries particularly maritime collaboration; and the US offer to sell Guardian drones to India. US had also renewed its support for Indian candidature for Nuclear Suppliers Group and other export control cartels; and UN Security Council.

FO said Pakistan was “deeply concerned on the sale of advanced military technologies to India”. It observed that sale of high-tech military hardware “accentuates military imbalances in the region and undermines strategic stability in South Asia”. It noted that such encouragements from the US “emboldens India to adopt aggressive military doctrines and even contemplate military adventurism”.

The statement added that “transfers of modern military hardware and technologies as well as repeated exceptions made for India have dis-incentivized India to engage in efforts to establish a strategic restraint regime and a durable security architecture in the region”
Nisar concerned

On Tuesday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also expressed the apprehension that the White House had started “speaking India’s language”.

“It seems that after Modi’s recent visit to the White House, the blood of Kashmiris is not at all important to the US, and international laws relating to human rights do not apply to Kashmir,” the interior minister said in a statement.

Accusing the Indian government of serious human rights violations in IHK, and of trying to paint “freedom fighters as terrorists”, Nisar said: “Indian acts should concern every principled nation.”

He said that deliberately overlooking the worst kind of state terrorism in IHK had not only adversely impacted the values of justice and international principles, but also exposed the double standards of powers who claim to champion human rights and democratic values.

The minister said the Pakistani government would not compromise on the rights of Kashmiris, and that the struggle would continue until they received justice as defined in United Nations’ resolutions.

He said the nation was united in sending a message of solidarity to Kashmir, and remained firmly committed to providing Kashmir diplomatic, political and moral support.

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