US, UN urge India and Pakistan to return to table

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA (AA) – The U.S. has once again offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, besides calling for a political and economic "roadmap" for the region and immediate release of all political detainees.

The offer came on Thursday, the same day when the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also pressed for dialogue between the two countries to resolve the issue.

''He [President Trump] certainly is prepared to play a mediation role, if both the countries ask. It has been India's position not to seek outside mediation," news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) reported, quoting a senior U.S. State Department official.

The news agency also quoted the Acting Assistant Secretary Asia Alice G Wells, saying the U.S. will continue to press for a roadmap, for the restoration of political and economic normalcy.

"We have seen progress, for example, four million postpaid mobile phone users have had service restored, but SMS and internet are restricted…The U.S. remains deeply concerned about the situation in the Kashmir Valley, where daily life of nearly eight million residents has been severely impacted,” she said.

Meanwhile, responding to questions, the UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will continue to call for "the situation to be resolved through dialogue and that any solution be rooted in the respect for human rights of the people who live in Kashmir”.

– Oldest unresolved conflict on UNSC agenda

The issue of Jammu and Kashmir is the oldest unresolved international conflict on the UNSC agenda since 1948. India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.

India-administered Jammu and Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since Aug. 5, when New Delhi scrapped the special status of the region, previously codified in the Indian Constitution's Article 370, which allowed it to enact its own laws.

The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.

India has maintained that 93% of the restrictions have been eased in the conflict-ridden region, a claim Anadolu Agency could not independently verify.

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