ISLAMABAD    -   The United States has started exerting pressure on India to resolve the Kashmir issue as Pakistan offered to mediate on the US-Iran tension.

Senior government officials told The Nation yesterday that Washington had promised to “do its bit” to resolve the Kashmir issue amid the war threats in the region.

“Washington has its interests in India (being a big market) but our importance (due to the Afghanistan issue and now the US-Iran tension) is still not affected. We have a key role in the region and the US acknowledges it. The US wants to mediate on Kashmir and help resolve the dispute,” said one official, citing the recent interactions of Pak-US leaders on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Another official said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump had “unanimity” of views on Kashmir. “They both want to resolve the issue sooner than later for the sake of peace in the region,” he added.

On Thursday, Washington urged New Delhi to quickly ease restrictions imposed in Kashmir, declaring President Donald Trump’s willingness to mediate to ease tensions between India and Pakistan over the territory.

Trump separately met this week with both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York.

While Trump has forged a close bond with Modi, joining the Hindu nationalist at a massive rally in Houston where the Indian leader boasted of his actions in Kashmir, a senior official said that the United States had concerns over the clampdown in the region and over the human rights situation in the disputed state.

“We hope to see rapid action - the lifting of the restrictions and the release of those who have been detained,” said Alice Wells, the top State Department official for South Asia.

Talking to reporters in Washington, Alice Wells said: “The United States is concerned by widespread detentions, including those of politicians and business leaders, and the restrictions on the residents of Jammu and Kashmir. We look forward to the Indian government’s resumption of political engagement with local leaders and the scheduling of the promised elections at the earliest opportunity.”

“We have shared and expressed our concerns over the human rights situation in Kashmir,” she said about US contacts with Indian officials.

Wells said that “the United States is concerned by widespread detentions, including those of politicians and business leaders, and the restrictions on the residents of [the region].”

Wells said the United States has raised concerns on Kashmir “at the highest levels,” without saying if Trump brought up the issue directly with Modi.

Wells said the world would benefit from reduced tensions and increased dialogue between the two countries and, given these factors, President Trump was willing to mediate if asked by both parties.

PM SEEKS UN ACTION ON KASHMIR

Yesterday, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the United Nations Security Council and other International fora to take serious action against illegal and unilateral steps taken by India in occupied Kashmir to avoid any human tragedy.

Addressing Asia Society in New York, he said over 8 million Kashmiris have been detained by Indian occupation forces in the held valley since last 53 days. He said curfew should be lifted as soon as possible.

Commenting on the dialogue on Kashmir with India, the Prime Minister said his government has tried several times to negotiate with the Indian government but dialogue process with India cannot be resumed unless curfew is lifted from occupied Kashmir valley.

He said the future of Kashmir should be decided according to aspirations of Kashmiris and as promised by United Nations Security Council through its resolutions.