WASHINGTON (APP) - The United States has launched a diplomatic effort to ease tensions between India and Pakistan over decades-old Kashmir dispute in order to allow Islamabad to focus more effectively on fighting al-Qaeda and Taliban militants on its western border with Afghanistan, top American defence officials said. Democratic Senator Mark Udall from Colorado raised the issue at a major Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, asking a panel of senior US Defence officials if Washington is in discussion on 'urging India and Pakistan to continue finding a way forward on Kashmir. Together with my great diplomatic wing man (special representative for the region) Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, this effort actually has started, Commander, US Central Command Gen David Petraeus replied. He did not name Kashmir in his response but argued that calming tensions between the two South Asian nuclear neighbours would be of 'enormous importance to fight against violent extremists. Petraeus cited in this respect several meetings the two of them have had with Indian officials, beginning with their joint meeting with the Indian national security adviser in Munich, Germany. We had a very what we thought was a very good discussion. That was followed up when the foreign minister of India came to Washington more recently. When Ambassador Holbrooke went out on his maiden trip through the area, my deputy went with him, and they were joined by the Pacific Command deputy for a swing into India as well after having been in Pakistan. Continuing, he said, it would be of enormous importance were the tensions to be reduced sufficiently between the two countries to where intellectually, as well as physically, Pakistan could focus more on what we, again, see as a much more important existential threat to Pakistan in the internal extremists than face-off on the eastern border. He said more recently the Pakistan-India standoff in the aftermath of Mumbai attacks diverted Islamabads attention at a time when its forces were engaged in focused anti-terrorism operations in Bajaur and other tribal border regions. Michele Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defence and one of the architects of the Obama Administrations policy toward the region, called the issue of scaling down Pakistan-India tensions as 'a really critical matter. This is the issue-one of the issues that really drives a more regional approach in our strategy-that part of helping Pakistan to shift its attention and its resources and its efforts is reducing the tensions it has with India. Admiral Eric T Olson, Commander U.S. Special Operations Command also echoed the thinking in Washington that any reduction of the tensions on the Indian border would be very helpful in the overall anti-terrorism effort on Pakistans border with Afghanistan.