US lacks balance in approach towards South Asia: Maleeha Lodhi

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Dr Maleeha Lodhi

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi on Monday said United States lacked balance in its approach towards South Asia, which had resulted in some relation breach.
“In recent years, we in Pakistan, have felt that the United States lacked balance in its approach toward South Asia, and as a result we lost something in the relationship,” she said while addressing the members of Washington-based think tank, World Affairs Council.
She said the lack of balance was best represented by the nuclear deal — the civilian nuclear deal that the former US president George Bush administration concluded with India — which was a discriminatory nuclear policy towards the region and had consequences for it.
Lodhi also said that the US needed to proactively pursue a “negotiated peace in Afghanistan”, as a decade and a half of war there has shown that continued conflict is not an option for the future.
She said that, “We have to find a negotiated peace in Afghanistan, which is the consensus at the United Nations and the consensus of the international community. I know the United States has declared its support to this goal in the past, but that may not be enough, it needs to be proactively involved in order to achieve and accomplish this goal.”
She also said the United States was in a unique position to defuse the rising tensions between India and Pakistan over the decades-old Kashmir issue as it has good relations with both India and Pakistan.
But, she insisted, that such a role required a more balanced policy on the part of the United States.
“Somebody needs to play this role and the United States is in the best position to do that,” the Pakistani envoy said. “I mean at this point in time, for example, the situation in Kashmir – the long-standing dispute between Pakistan and India — is once again inflamed; the situation is grave, it poses a critical threat to regional peace and security and again, you know, what we would like to see is the United States not coming in as a fire brigade to put out a fire but to play a role to avert any kind of crisis from brewing and flaring up.”
“I am not suggesting that’s about to happen but I am saying that before the next crisis happens this is a role of leadership that the US can play,” she said.
To a query that whether a plebiscite in Kashmir could pave the way to peace, the ambassador referred to a series of UN Security Council resolutions calling for enabling the Kashmiri people to determine their own destiny, that have not been implemented.
“We say and I have said that several times at the UN that the people of Kashmir have waited for seventy years to see justice done to their cause, to see Security Council resolutions being implemented, so we do believe that the answer to the instability in our region which is caused primarily and principally by the dispute over Kashmir should be resolved.
“This is no piece of real estate that Pakistan and India are fighting over, this is about people, it is about the self-determination of the people, and their right to their self-determination is enshrined in the UN charter, in UN declarations and in UN Security Council resolutions, so all we say is allow the people of Kashmir to decide their future,” she said.
Regretting the continuing tensions between India and Pakistan, Lodhi underscored the need for a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir and other issues between the two countries.
“It is important that Pakistan and India sit down and find a peaceful settlement of this issue to allow one fifth of mankind (living in South Asia) to enjoy the fruits of peace,” she said. “Peace that other parts of the world have enjoyed, why should over a billion people be deprived of this?”
The Pakistan envoy also suggested that the new US administration back a peace process in Afghanistan for which Islamabad would be willing to play a role to end this war that has brought so much grief to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We host so many refuges, and quite apart from that, it (the conflict) has destabilized large parts of the border,” she said, adding, “So I think in this region there is a lot that the United States can do and I think one of the mechanisms that has been evolved to help promote peace and a dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Afghanistan is called the Quadrilateral Coordination Group which brings together Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and United States.”

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