ISLAMABAD -  Washington has told Islamabad that it supports backchannel contacts between Pakistan and India to ensure peace in South Asia, diplomatic sources said.

A senior official at the foreign ministry told The Nation that the US wanted Pakistan and India to engage in some sort of dialogue to pave way for open talks on the bilateral issues.

“The message from the US is to make efforts for talks. Backchannel first which could translate into some open meetings. The lack of political and diplomatic contacts [the US believes] will be harmful for peace. The US wants an end to the blame game to create an environment for talks,” he added.

Pakistan, the official said, had told the US that Islamabad was never involved in the blame game and “our claims on ceasefire violations and India-sponsored terrorism are based on facts.”

Last week, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that there were a number of civil society organisations that make contacts for Pak-India peace.

Questioned about Pak-India backchannel diplomacy in Dubai, he said: “civil society organizations bring participants from different walks of life to discuss Pak-India relations and contentious issues.”

Zakaria said Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice G Wells’ recent visit was in the backdrop of US policy review on Afghanistan in regional perspective but “we consider it an important visit, which provides us an opportunity to discuss bilateral relation and share our perspectives on Afghanistan and the broader issues related to the region.”

The spokesperson said that all issues including the outstanding issue of Kashmir, as well as comprehensive discussions in the context of situation in Afghanistan when Wells met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.

Another official at the foreign ministry said that Pakistan had told the US that Pakistan supported dialogue with India but New Delhi had time and again rejected such proposals.

“We asked them to put pressure on India rather than Pakistan. We are always ready for talks. The US has promised to also contact India. Speaking of the backchannel contacts, they are always on,” he maintained.

International relations expert Dr Pervez Iqbal Cheema said that the US and the world were ignoring the Kashmir issue and India was trying to convince them that Pakistan was the epicentre of all the problems.

“India should address the Kashmir issue. US must put pressure on India for this. Pakistan had never shown reluctance to hold talks with India. The US should ask India to ensure an environment for talks,” he contended.

Cheema said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was a “government of militants”, which was bent upon eliminating the neighbours.

International relations expert Dr Farooq Hasnat said the US itself was ignoring Pakistan’s role in the war on terror.

“They are stopping our funds and asking us to do more. They are supporting India against us. Washington can play an important role for Pak-India peace, which they are not doing at present,” he remarked.

Hasnat said the recent meeting between Modi and US President Donald Trump was an attempt to disturb the strategic balance in the region.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Senator Rehman Malik expressed grave concern over the statement of President Donald Trump who asked Pakistan to change its “paradoxical” policies.

In a statement, Malik said the US should realise and understand the dynamics of “regional dirty politics” being played by India through his stooges in Afghanistan.

He added that Pakistan had suffered twice being the allies of the US and both times Pakistan had paid heavy price in terms of loss of human lives in thousands coupled with worst effects on Pakistan’s economy and basic infrastructure and development.

Malik said that recent massacres of innocent Pakistanis were claimed by Pakistani Taliban sitting in Afghanistan who were being sponsored by India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in collaboration with Afghan intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security.

Malik said that on the one hand India was sponsoring terrorism through Afghanistan and on the other hand it was violating the Line of Control (LoC) on a daily basis.

The lawmaker said that it was not Pakistan, which had paradoxical policies but “it is Afghanistan, which had anti-Pakistan policies, while playing in the hands of RAW.”

Senator Malik said: “I urge the US President Donald Trump not to play for India in its anti-Pakistan and anti-China policy.”