WASHINGTON - The United States has said that it does not and will never support any calls for increasing tensions or rhetoric between Pakistan and India.

“Obviously, we’re gravely concerned about this situation (in Jammu and Kashmir). We’re gravely concerned about the violence,” State Department Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said when an Indian correspondent asked about Pakistan’s plans to observe July 19 as “Black Day” to express solidarity with the Kashmiri people and protest Indian forces’ atrocities against them.

“No, I wouldn’t say that any call for increasing tension or increasing rhetoric is something that we would support. We’ve been very clear on our position on that,” she told the daily press briefing on Friday.

“It is a situation where we need all parties to reduce the rhetoric, reduce the violence, get back to a situation where they can have dialogue,” the spokesperson added.

At least 40 people had been killed in the week-long unrest, with over 1,500 people injured, including 100 who were hit by pellet guns used by Indian troops for crowd control, leading to eye injuries.

The death of Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani in a gunfight with government forces last week sparked the clashes.

Wani, in his early 20s, had become a prominent face of separatist sentiment in the Kashmir valley, according to a dispatch in The New York Times.

“He built up a following on social media, posting pictures of himself and his associates in combat fatigues, often carrying arms,” the Times said. “Though the number of militants in the region has declined sharply since the 1990s, he became the face of a small, new homegrown militancy based in south Kashmir, his appeal apparently heightened by his educated, middle-class roots.”

The paper noted that his father, Muzaffar Ahmad Wani, the head of a secondary school in Kashmir, had said that his son’s inspiration to join the militancy had sprung from a beating he and his brother received at the hands of the security forces in 2010.

“His (Burhan’s) appeal, observers say, spread across social media, reaching a large number of young people who had known only conflict in Kashmir, and his death, some fear, will only magnify that appeal,” the Times said.

“Mark my words — Burhan’s ability to recruit in to militancy from the grave will far outstrip anything he could have done on social media,” a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir State, Omar Abdullah, posted on Twitter after the violence broke out.

The Times said, “What is striking about the recent unrest is the speed and scale with which it grew — encompassing almost the entire Kashmir valley and bringing thousands onto the streets. The authorities called a curfew in the valley and suspended mobile internet services in response.”

Gull Mohammad Wani, a professor of political science at the University of Kashmir, was quoted as saying that the alienation among many Kashmiris had been festering because of a lack of engagement by state and national politicians in the long-running political crisis in Kashmir.

“A polarised atmosphere in India under the government of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi, he said, has not helped,” the Times said. Last year, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party formed a government in Jammu and Kashmir State, which he called “a very uneasy type of coalition” that did little to calm the region.

“There has been a constant cry from protesters in Kashmir throughout the decades: azadi, or freedom. Since the late 1980s, when the militancy was born, the azadi cry has been heard on the streets whenever there has been a protest. Recently, it appears to connote as much a feeling of rebellion against a security apparatus seen as operating with an unnecessarily heavy hand, as a concrete demand for nationhood.”

PM DISCUSSES IHK WITH AIDES

Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif met senior ministers at his Raiwind residence and discussed with them the current situation in Held Kashmir, Opposition’s protest threat and situation in Turkey after a failed coup.

The meeting was attended by Federal Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid.

According to media reports, Ch Nisar informed the prime minister about the Opposition’s protest plan and Protection of Pakistan Ordinance, that awaits extension following completion of two-year period, and also general law and order situation in the country.