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Roving Periscope: Pak gets 2 snubs in 2 days from 2 ‘friends’—the Saudis and the US

Roving Periscope: Pak gets 2 snubs in 2 days from 2 ‘friends’—the Saudis and the US

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: A day after Saudi Arabia advised Pakistan to settle its “bilateral” issues with India, including Kashmir, Washington also refused to support Islamabad on its claims about New Delhi’s alleged role in killing nearly 20 terrorists.

The US, which, like India, is in the middle of elections, is following a checks-and-balance policy—expressing “concerns” over the Kejriwal arrest, but not supporting Islamabad vis-à-vis New Delhi.

So, responding to Pakistan’s accusations that Indian agents murdered several “individuals” on the other side of the border, the US said it was not going to get in the middle of the situation. It also urged the two sides to avoid escalation and seek a resolution through dialogue, the media reported on Tuesday.

The response by US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller came when he was asked about Washington’s stance on a report by the British daily “Guardian,” which claimed that India killed “individuals” associated with terrorism and extremism on Pakistan’s soil.

“We have been following the media reports about this issue. We don’t have any comment on the underlying allegations, but of course, we’re not going to get in the middle of this situation,” Miller said.

“We encourage both sides to avoid escalation and find a resolution through dialogue,” he added.

The recent Guardian report quoted ‘ghost’ intelligence operatives in India and Pakistan to claim that India’s move was part of a wider strategy to eliminate terrorists on foreign soil.

The Ministry of External Affairs denied all such allegations, calling them “false and malicious propaganda.”

The Washington snub to Islamabad came a day after Riyadh virtually supported India’s stand on Jammu and Kashmir and advised the two countries to resolve their “outstanding issues” bilaterally.

Riyadh’s stand came in a joint statement issued a day after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called on Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Muhammad bin Salman to hold an official meeting on Sunday in Mecca.

“The two sides stressed the importance of dialogue between Pakistan and India to resolve the outstanding issues between the two countries, especially the Jammu and Kashmir dispute to ensure peace and stability in the region,” the statement said.

India’s long-held position on Kashmir has been that it was a bilateral issue between the two countries and there was no question of any mediation or intervention by any third party.

The ties between New Delhi and Riyadh have significantly improved under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia has maintained a balanced approach over Jammu and Kashmir.

While the Saudis expressed concern over India’s abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, they did not explicitly condemn the actions, and, instead, referred to it as New Delhi’s internal matter.

In 2019 also, Pakistan urged the US to “persuade” India to start talks on the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. This came after then-US President Donald Trump offered to mediate between the two nations on the Kashmir issue, which India rejected.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had made it clear that “any discussion on the issue if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally.”


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