ISLAMABAD - Pakistan was yesterday fuming over United States remarks that the Uri attack was “a clear case of cross-border terrorism” – blaming Washington of unfairly supporting India.
Senior officials at the Foreign Ministry told The Nation that Pakistan had contacted the US over the ‘objectionable’ statement which ostensibly discredited Pakistan’s commitment to defeat terrorism.
Earlier, the White House supported India's “right to self-defence” in the aftermath of the Uri attack. In a rare appearance before a Washington audience, Peter Lavoy, the White House point person for South Asia, said that the India-US ties were the ‘most dynamic’ relationship for the US as he listed the Obama administration's achievements in strengthening the relationship between the two largest democracies of the world.
The Uri attack, he said, “was a clear case of cross-border terrorism. We condemned this act of terrorism. It was a horrific attack. Every country has a right to self-defence. But in a heavily militarised relationship that has also experienced three wars, there is indeed a need for caution and restraint.”
He added: “We share with India, the concern for preventing any future attack. We empathise with the Indian position that it needs to respond militarily to cross-border threat of terrorism. But we also advise caution.”
Lavoy also said the US was making every effort to ensure that India become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group by the end of this year.
The comments infuriated Pakistan and diplomats immediately contacted the counterparts in Washington to lodge protest.
An official at the foreign ministry said the diplomats in Washington “understood our point of view” but seemed to “unfairly back India.”
He said Pakistan told them it had nothing to do with the Uri attack or any such incident in the past. “We believe in peace with all the neighbours. The Uri attack could be a response to the Indian aggression in Kashmir but Pakistan is not involved,” he added.
Another official said Pakistan will also formally take up the issue with the US and its envoys in Washington and the United Nations will try to convince the Americans to play neutral as tensions between Pakistan and India had started to cool down.
This week, Prime Minister's Special envoys on Kashmir Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed and Dr Shezra Mansab Ali said Pakistan wanted to hold dialogue with India on all outstanding issues including Kashmir, but New Delhi has closed all doors to talks between the two countries.
The envoys are visiting Washington and New York to highlight the Kashmir dispute and to counter India's version of the latest flare-up in the disputed region.
Pakistan's ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi said Pakistan was ready to engage India, bilaterally, regionally and internationally.
Yesterday, Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Masood Khan urged the international community to take steps to stop Indian brutalities in held Kashmir.
Masood Khan said people of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan were standing with their Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir.
Meanwhile, India’s former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said India was facing threats due to internal weaknesses.
He said real threats to India were emanating from communal and social violence within the country, and the neighbouring countries like China and Pakistan cannot be blamed for it.
Also yesterday, Prime Minister's Special Envoys on Jammu and Kashmir Muhammad Pervez Malik and Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjha concluded a “highly successful and productive visit” to Turkey.
During their stay, they apprised the Turkish political and parliamentary leadership, media, members of civil society, academics, think-tanks and youth representatives of the gross and systematic violations of human rights being perpetrated by the security forces in Kashmir, while projecting Pakistan's principled stance on the issue, a foreign ministry statement said.
The special envoys called on the Chairperson of the Committee on National Defence of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Yusuf Beyazit, and briefed him about the latest situation in Kashmir.
Highlighting the ongoing atrocities, the envoys called for a robust response from the international community to bring an end to impunity, and the vicious cycle of State-terrorism against the innocent Kashmiri people in Kashmir.
Chairman Yusuf Beyazit noted that the Kashmir issue had remained unresolved for 70 years, with adverse implications for regional peace and stability.
He stressed the importance of addressing the humanitarian dimensions of the dispute, along with its political aspects. He underscored the need for the earliest solution of Kashmir dispute in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
Separately, the special envoys met with Chairperson of the Turkish Parliament's Committee on Human Rights Inquiry Mustafa Yeneroglu and highlighted the scale and severity of the human rights violations being perpetrated by the occupying forces against the innocent Kashmiris.
They expressed the hope that the relevant human rights bodies would continue to call on the Indian government to end the gross violations of human rights forthwith and conduct an independent inquiry to hold accountable those responsible for these crimes.
The special envoys, in particular, drew attention towards the use of pellet guns by the occupation forces, permanently blinding many Kashmiris - primarily young men and women.
They also met with the Chairman of the Turkey-Pakistan Cultural Association, Burhan Kayaturk, and thanked him for the resolute and unequivocal support of Turkey on Pakistan's principled position on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, and for highlighting the grave human rights situation in held Kashmir.
The special envoys interacted extensively with the Turkish media and briefed them regarding the latest situation in Kashmir. Treasury Senator Abdul Qayyum Khan, a former Lt. General, said the US must play a neutral role instead of siding with India.
“We have been fighting terrorism with an iron hand and the US must not doubt our commitment. The latest statement from the US is disappointing,” he added. International relations expert Dr Talat Wizarat said Pakistan was itself a victim of terrorism and was fighting the menace. “How can we support terror in other countries? Pakistan must protest against the US statement. Washington seems to be influenced by India,” she said.