Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made the unusually blunt appeal for Obama to seek a resolution of the dispute when he visits India next month, saying he should “redeem the pledge” he made as a candidate.
The conflict over Kashmir has been the main source of friction between India and Pakistan since they won independence from Britain in 1947. Pakistan has frequently sought outside intervention to resolve it but India vehemently opposes such involvement and the United States has traditionally stayed above the fray.
Qureshi expressed astonishment that the U.S. and other major powers had said little about India’s response to the protests.
“People of conscience have protested the use of force against the defenseless people of Kashmir, in particular the targeting of the Kashmiri youth,” he said. “But the Kashmiri mothers are baffled by the deafening silence of the world’s leadership. History has proved that the force of arms cannot suppress the legitimate aspirations of the Kashmiri people.”
India and Pakistan fought two wars for control of Muslim-majority Kashmir, where rebels have sought independence from India or incorporation with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Kashmir since fighting began in earnest in 1989.
Indian government forces say they have evacuated hundreds of people after a fierce gunbattle erupted with three suspected Muslim rebels hiding in a village in the Indian portion of Kashmir.
Lt. Col. J.S. Brar, an Indian army spokesman, says soldiers and police cordoned a portion of Maloora, a village on the outskirts of the region’s main city Srinagar, following intelligence that suspected rebels were hiding there.
Brar said Thursday heavy gunfire between the suspected rebels and government forces is continuing.