19:02 GMT03 March 2021
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    Although US President Joe Biden has not yet phoned Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan since taking over the US administration in January, the new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken did speak with his counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi last week, and reiterated the US desire to strengthen ties with Pakistan.

    As the government of the US changes, Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said he hopes the Biden administration will not ignore the reality of “disputed Kashmir” which has been under “military siege for the past 18 months".

    “We want to resolve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir through dialogue with India - that’s the only sensible way. We hope the new US administration which is talking about human rights protection will stop ignoring the ground realities in the illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” Shah Mahmood Qureshi said while delivering a speech at an exhibition in Islamabad on Thursday.

    The minister said that India claims Jammu and Kashmir is a matter for its internal affairs - but it is not.

    “If it were an internal issue then why was it on the agenda of several dialogues [between India & Pakistan] while the UN Security Council has held three discussions on it in the wake of illegal Indian actions in the valley on 5 August 2019,” Qureshi asked.

    The statement comes a day after the US Department of State congratulated India's Narendra Modi-led government for restoring high-speed 4G services to Jammu and Kashmir but forgot to refer to the area as being "disputed".

    High-speed internet services had been suspended after India revoked the ‘temporary’ special status of the region in August 2019 on the grounds that social media platforms can be misused to disrupt law and order.

    “I want to be very clear, there has been no change in US policy in the region,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price when reminded at a briefing on Wednesday that a tweet the department posted did not mention the region’s disputed status.

    Pakistan has been making attempts every now and then to discuss Kashmir at the United Nations Security Council with China’s backing but during Donald Trump’s tenure Islamabad could not find support on the issue. After a series of mediation offers, the Trump administration had come around to reinforcing the Indian line of argument, ie, Kashmir is strictly "an internal matter".

    Since US Defense Secretary, General Lloyd James Austin, said last month that Pakistan remains an “essential US partner” in the region, Islamabad now hopes the Biden will look into the issue differently from his predecessor.

    Pakistan had suspended diplomatic relations with India after the revocation of "temporary" special status to Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian parliament as it claimed that New Delhi broke the international and bilateral treaty over the Kashmir issue.

    Although Imran Khan's government has changed its tone, experts claim, the Indian foreign ministry has maintained that talks will only resume with Pakistan in “an environment free of terror, hostility and violence”.

    New Delhi claims sovereignty over the entirety of the Jammu and Kashmir region, currently divided by the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan and which is also partly disputed by China. The conflict over the region has been ongoing since 1947 and at present is in stalemate.

    Related:

    4G Services to Be Restored in India's Jammu and Kashmir After 18-Month Ban
    As Pakistanis Rally for Solidarity With Kashmir, Imran Khan Passes the Buck to India
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    U.S. Department of State, Ned Price, Lloyd Austin, Joe Biden, Imran Khan, Sputnik, Sputnik News, Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmir, Islamabad, Pakistan, India
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