India has rejected a more proactive role for the U.S. between India and Pakistan, the rivals whose long running dispute over Kashmir has often raised international concern and fears of a conflict between the nuclear armed neighbors.
New Delhi’s sharp response came after U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said earlier this week that the U.S. would try to “find its place” in efforts to defuse tensions between the South Asian rivals.
Expressing concern over the relationship between the two countries, Haley asserted the Trump administration “wants to see how we de-escalate any sort of conflict going forward.”
She said at a press conference in New York that, “We very much think that we should be proactive in the way that we are seeing tensions rise and conflicts start to bubble up and so we want to see if we can be a part of that.”
In a swift reaction, India’s foreign ministry said in a statement, “the government position for bilateral redressal of all India- Pakistan issues in an atmosphere free of terror and violence has not changed.”
Underlining its major concern, New Delhi called on the international community to enforce international mechanisms regarding “terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which continues to be the single biggest threat to peace and stability in our region and beyond.”
Although there have been some attempts previously on the part of Washington to play a role in resolving the Kashmir dispute, India has consistently opposed mediation in its dispute with Pakistan — a position that was accepted by the previous U.S. administration of Barack Obama.
Pakistan, on the other hand, has often said it is ready to take the help of Washington and the United Nations to settle the Kashmir dispute and has repeatedly raised the issue at various international forums.
Indian analysts say although New Delhi is optimistic that a growing strategic partnership with Washington will deepen under the Trump administration, there is worry about how the new U.S. government will weigh in on the tense relationship between the estranged South Asian neighbors.
“India’s nightmare scenario with regard to the U.S. is that the U.S. will become active and try to resolve the Kashmir issue,” said Manoj Joshi at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.
He said India is especially wary because, “We [the U.S.] have an administration which is very inexperienced, you have an inexperienced president, so anything can happen.”
Although India insists on a bilateral dialogue, peace talks between the two countries have been stalled for some time. Both countries blame each other for the lack of progress.
Tensions between the rivals spiked last September following an attack by armed militants on an army base in Indian Kashmir. Following that, India said it conducted surgical strikes inside Pakistani territory to take out Pakistan-based militants. Islamabad denied that such an operation took place, but the Kashmir border remained volatile for months, raising fears of a conflict.
The two countries have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region, which is divided between them but claimed by both.