Washington: Pakistan wants the US to facilitate talks with India as the two nations are not engaging bilaterally, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said, warning that the absence of dialogue could lead to escalation of tension.
But the Pakistani request on the facilitation of the talks has been rejected by the US, the top Pakistani leader told a Washington audience on Wednesday, a day after he had meetings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, during which he raised the issue only to be pushed back by the Trump administration.
“When we asked the US, to play facilitating role…Why do we ask? Simply because we are not engaging bilaterally. And that bilateral disengagement is a distraction. We want to focus, we want to move on the western side of the border, which we are not being able to because we have to watch our back from eastern side (of the border with India). That is not a healthy situation to be in,” Qureshi said in response to a question at the US Institute of Peace, a US Congress-funded top American think-tank.
“Now can you (United States) facilitate? The answer from them is no. They wanted bilaterally. But there is no bilateral movement,” Qureshi said warning that this could lead to escalation of tension between the two South Asian countries.
“If that lack of facilitation leads to escalation and some of the statements that have come out of late have not been very helpful,” the Pakistani foreign minister said in an apparent reference to the remarks by Indian leaders.
The new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, he claimed, is not shy of engaging. Referring to the cancelling of his meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New York, he alleged that India backed off.