U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed concerns over continuing border clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops, and urged both countries to resolve their differences through talks, according to media reports. Kerry’s comments were made on Tuesday after a meeting in Islamabad with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sartaj Aziz, Sharif's adviser on foreign affairs.
“We continue to be deeply concerned by the recent spate of increased violence along the working boundary and the Line of Control (LoC),” Kerry reportedly said, referring to the ceasefire lines in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that have become the de-facto borders between India and Pakistan. “India and Pakistan need to overcome historical mistrust and re-engage in serious dialogue … it is profoundly in the interests of Pakistan and India to move this relationship forward.”
Relations between the two nuclear-armed nations have deteriorated in recent months following several clashes along the heavily militarized LoC. Even as Kerry arrived in Pakistan, there were reports of fire being exchanged between Indian troops and Pakistani rangers near Jammu and Kashmir, although no one was injured in the clashes. Kerry also reportedly added that the United States would do all it could to ensure the two countries could engage in peaceful talks.
During his visit to Pakistan, which comes after he attended a summit in the western Indian state of Gujarat over the weekend, Kerry also praised the Pakistani army’s operation against militants in the country’s restive North Waziristan province, according to media reports.
The operations “in the northwest have disrupted militant activities in the tribal areas and resulted in important seizures of weapons,” Kerry reportedly said, adding that though the offensive is far from complete, the results are already “significant.”
North Waziristan is believed to be one of the last strongholds of the Pakistani Taliban, and its local and international affiliates. The Pakistani military had launched an offensive in North Waziristan -- aided by American drone strikes -- named Operation Zarb-e-Azb in June last year, and has reportedly deployed over 30,000 soldiers to the region.
According to a report by The Associated Press, Kerry also announced $250 million in emergency funds for relief operations in Pakistan’s northwest, where clashes between the military and militants have displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The Taliban recently attacked an army-run school in Peshawar, killing dozens of children, to avenge the Pakistani army's offensive against the group.
“This task is obviously far from finished … Terror groups like the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e Taiba, and other groups, continue to pose a threat to Pakistan, to its neighbors, and to the United States, and we all of us have a responsibility to ensure that these groups do not gain a foothold but rather are pushed back into the recesses of memory,” Kerry reportedly added.