ISLAMABAD - Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa yesterday appreciated the United States’ support on the Kashmir issue amid massive human rights violations in the held territory.

In a meeting with US Senators Christopher Van Hollen and Maggie Hassan at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, the Chief of Army Staff appreciated the US understanding and support on the need to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

“The COAS appreciated US understanding and support on all the need for resolving Kashmir and for Pakistan’s (peace) efforts in Afghanistan,” said a statement issued by the ISPR Directorate.

During the meeting, issues of mutual interest and overall regional security situation including Afghan reconciliation process and Kashmir issue were discussed.

“The visiting dignitaries acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts for regional peace and stability. Both sides stressed upon importance of strong bilateral relationship between US and Pakistan in and beyond security cooperation,” said the military statement.

General Qamar later flew to Beijing along with Prime Minister Imran. The Chief of Army Staff will join the Prime Minister’s meetings with Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping.

General Bajwa had earlier said that there will be no compromise on Kashmir issue. He had told a Corps Commanders’ Conference that the “army is fully configured, prepared and determined to defend honour, dignity and territorial integrity of the country at all costs.”

Kashmir, he said, “is a jugular vein of Pakistan and no compromise shall be made which denies right of self-determination to our Kashmiri brethren.”

On October 6, the US Senators had urged India to lift curfew in the held Kashmir and release all prisoners. They acknowledged Pakistan’s concerns on the human rights situation in the held valley.

The high-level US Congressional delegation - comprising Senators Chris Van Hollen and Maggie Hassan along with their staffers and US charge d’affaires Ambassador Paul Jones - visited Muzaffarabad to show their interest in the Kashmir issue.

General Officer Commanding Major General Amir Ahsan Nawaz gave them a detailed briefing on the human rights violations in the held Kashmir.

The purpose of the Azad Jammu Kashmir visit was to see the ground situation and gauge public sentiment following the August 5 illegal Indian actions in the occupied Kashmir. The US lawmakers expressed their resolve to remain engaged for the resolution of the dispute.

The delegation also called on the President Sardar Masood Khan and Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The US delegation was apprised of the historical background of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and the deteriorating situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in wake of prolonged curfew and suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms particularly since August 5.

On August 5, India had scrapped Article 370 - a constitutional provision that allowed Jammu and Kashmir semi-autonomy over laws and prevented land ownership by non-Kashmiris.

Kashmir has been a source of constant strife between Pakistan and India, and this move by the Indian government fanned the tension. PM Imran Khan had successfully called for a UNSC meeting to discuss Kashmir but the meeting concluded with no official statements.

Recently, Washington urged New Delhi to quickly ease restrictions imposed in Kashmir, declaring President Donald Trump’s willingness to mediate to ease tensions between India and Pakistan over the territory. Trump separately met both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York late last month.