Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has again sought US mediation to solve the Kashmir dispute. Sharif had on Sunday asked America to intervene to settle outstanding issues with India, including the Kashmir dispute. However, US had dismissed the Pakistani efforts, saying it considers it a bilateral issue between the two countries.
"With its growing influence in India, the US now has the capacity to do more to help the two sides resolve their core disputes, including Kashmir, and in promoting a culture of cooperation," Sharif said on the eve of his meeting with President Barack Obama.
Addressing a think tank in Washington, Sharif said that Pakistan appreciates the constructive role the US has "historically played in defusing tensions between Pakistan and India".
The Pakistan Prime Minister also said that the Kashmir issue is a regional "flashpoint".
"Kashmir, of course, is a very difficult issue and very difficult to resolve, but I think by sitting and talking, we will be able to find some way of resolving that too, because that is a flashpoint not only in the region but in the whole world," he said.
"Any solution which can come about will not be able to come about unless and until the people of all three sides put their endorsement to this - the people of India, people of Pakistan and the people of Kashmir," he added.
Sharif also rejected the assertion that Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism.
"In fact, Pakistan itself has been a major victim of terrorism for over a decade," Sharif said.
Mr Sharif said his government is firmly resolved to end the cycle of violence in Pakistan but this "cannot be done overnight, nor can it be done by unleashing senseless force against its citizens, without first making every effort to bring the misguided and confused elements of society back to the mainstream".
Mr Sharif was quoted in agency reports on Sunday as saying that that during his US visit in July 1999 amid the Kargil conflict, he had told then President Bill Clinton that "if he spends 10 per cent of the time he was spending on Middle East, the Kashmir issue between two countries would be resolved."
Hours later, a senior US official said, "On Kashmir, our policy has not changed an iota." In India, the government and political parties condemned Mr Sharif's comment in one voice. Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said, "Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India - there is no question of anybody interfering with this idea. The US knows this very well."
(With PTI inputs)