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Quake cooperation could be significant for Indo-Pak relationship: US
By Aziz Haniffa in Washington D C | October 21, 2005 02:32 IST
The Bush administration has said that humanitarian cooperation by India and Pakistan in the tragic earthquake that ravaged parts of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir in India could "be a significant moment for the relationship between India and Pakistan".
Appearing before the House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and Pacific that convened a hearing on 'South Asia Earthquake: US Relief and Assistance', Christina Rocca, the assistant secretary of state for South Asian Affairs, said, "We have seen Pakistanis and Indians working together to provide help to victims in Kashmir."
"The historic talks between the governments of India and Pakistan over the past year and a half laid the groundwork for the trust that would allow this level of cooperation," she said.
"The governments of both Pakistan and India have found the political will to allow the people of Kashmir ready access to their relatives on either side of the Line of Control and to take measures, which help the humanitarian crisis faced by this area," Rocca informed lawmakers.
"We of course, strongly support these gestures and hope they will lead to increased long-term cooperation between both nations," she added.
But Rocca blasted the militants for continuing terrorism even in the face of this massive disaster and condemned the killing of a key Kashmir cabinet official.
"There are those who are cynically using the situation to conduct violent terrorist acts as demonstrated by the assassination of the Jammu and Kashmir State Education Minister Ghulam Nabi Lone.This is unacceptable," she said.
"The real battle going on in Kashmir today, and for the foreseeable future, will be to save the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives and overcome a natural disaster the likes of which this region has never experienced," she said.
The United States, she pledged, "will continue to take a leading role in the international effort to save lives in South Asia," and noted that 76 countries and major international entities from Azerbaijan to the United Kingdom, including North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the European Union and the United Nations "are stepping up to contribute to this effort".
Rocca told the chairman of the subcommittee, Congressman Jim Leach, Iowa Republican, that the administration "looks forward to working with you and the committee as we move forward expeditiously to help the people of the affected areas".
"People are suffering and the American people are responding," she added, and noted that this was a clear demonstrated of "the depth of our commitment to our friends in the region and revealing to the world the character of our great country".