ISLAMABAD - The United States has promised to help defuse Pak-India tension as Islamabad and Washington work as a team for peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, officials said. Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Islamabad had been pushing Washington to press India for peace with Pakistan. One official said: “Washington has promised to help. They will use their influence (in India) to bring India to the talks table and stop bloodshed in Kashmir.”

Another official said the US was happy with Pakistan’s help for Washington’s direct talks with the Afghan Taliban and “we have told them we also need peace on the eastern border (with India).” He added: “The US has asked us (Pakistan) to continue work on Afghan Taliban while they (the US) use their good offices to tame India.” This week, Prime Minister Imran Khan telephoned United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urging him to take notice of grave human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. “The Prime Minister also underscored UN’s role to end human rights violations being perpetrated by occupied Indian forces against Kashmiris,” said an official statement.

Earlier, president’s rule was imposed in the held Kashmir after Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s approval. After six months of Governor’s Rule which expired on December 19, 2018, the occupied valley will now be under President’s Rule. The President’s rule was first imposed in the state in 1986, whereas the previous instance of President rule was 22 years ago.

The union cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the decision this week after Governor Satya Pal Malik sent a report to the central government recommending imposition of President’s rule in the state. Curfew-like restrictions continued across occupied Kashmir earlier this week following a renewed wave of killings by Indian troops. Last week, Indian forces killed 10 youth in Pulwama district, sparking protests by residents which led to two more young people being killed and several others getting injured. Indian atrocities in the valley have left tens of thousands of people dead since 1989 — most of them civilians. But this year has been the deadliest since 2009, with more than 500 people killed so far. Authorities said last week that incidents of violence were on track to double this year compared to 2017.

The bloodshed in Kashmir has infuriated Pakistan as it urged the international bodies to intervene. Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said Pakistan had offered a comprehensive roadmap to India for dialogue in which all matters were to be discussed. “The offer was made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, our highest office. You all know how India responded to that,” he said. The spokesperson condemned the Indian brutalities in held Kashmir. “Pellet guns and force is being used against the Kashmiris.” He said India was using force to suppress the voice of the Kashmiris.” He said India should give access to international organisations to investigate the atrocities being carried out in Kashmir.

Faisal called upon India to allow the UN Military Observer Group on India and Pakistan to monitor the situation on Line of Control and Working Boundary. Pakistan, he said, had also written letters to the Secretary Generals of the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and a meeting of Contact Group on Kashmir will also be held soon. This year, Indian army chief Bipin Rawat came up with irresponsible statements as he backed PM Narendra Modi-led government’s decision of declining Pakistan’s offer to initiate dialogue. General Rawat rehashed the old mantra that terrorism and talks could not go hand in hand.

The Indian ministers also came with hostile statement and ultimately, India declined to let its external affairs minister Sushma Sawaraj meet Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

US itself has on a number of times advocated peace between Pakistan and India for stability in the region.