Tensions between India and Pakistan will abate only after Islamabad takes "meaningful action" against terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar who engage in cross-border infiltration, news agency PTI quoted a top US diplomat as saying today.
Alice Wells, US Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, said at a special briefing of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that the onus of restoring peaceful relations between the two countries hinges primarily on Pakistan's willingness to rein in terror elements operating within its borders. She also brushed aside questions on US President Donald Trump's offer to intervene in the Kashmir issue, saying that "Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has clarified that he's not seeking mediation".
"I think what we would like to see are conditions whereby India and Pakistan can have a constructive conversation that leads to an improvement of relations between the two nuclear powers," she said, adding that such a development can take place only if Islamabad takes serious steps to implement the Financial Action Task Force action plan - which includes the prosecution of UN-designated terrorists.
"This can be Hafiz Saeed, who is currently in custody and under prosecution, as also Jaish-e-Mohammed leaders like Masood Azhar, who have long been able to exploit their presence on Pakistani soil," PTI quoted Ms Wells as saying.
Donald Trump had met PM Modi and Imran Khan separately on the sidelines of the UNGA session earlier this week. Both of them are scheduled to address the world body later today.
Relations between India and Pakistan plunged to a new low after the Narendra Modi government scrapped the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution in a surprise move last month. Islamabad reacted sharply to the development, downgrading diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelling the Indian ambassador.
Ms Wells said Pakistan's differences with India have prevented it from reaping the "benefits of living next to a 1.3-billion market". She also accused Imran Khan of adopting double standards by raising the Kashmir issue while ignoring the plight of an estimated one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims who have been detained in China's Xinjiang province.
Imran Khan had declined comment when asked about Uighurs at a think tank on Monday. China is a major diplomatic and economic partner of Pakistan.
Rights groups say that China has been trying to forcibly curb Islamic traditions practised by its Uighur population and integrate them with the majority Han population in Xinjiang province. Beijing has rejected the allegations, claiming that it is only providing them with vocational training and discouraging extremism.
(With inputs from PTI)