ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is still ready for talks with India if normalcy returns to held Kashmir, Islamabad has told Washington as US President Donald Trump continued his mediation efforts. Islamabad conveyed to the US that India was running away from talks and Pakistan had never refused the dialogue process, senior government officials told The Nation on Wednesday.

“We have told them (the US) that we are ready for talks but normalcy has to return to Kashmir first. We can’t hold talks when there is bloodshed going on in Kashmir,” said one official. Another official said Pakistan had acknowledged President Trump’s efforts to defuse tension and his mediation offers.

This week, Trump again offered to mediate the “explosive” situation in Kashmir amid mounting international concern over a flare-up in violence between Pakistan and India in the divided region. Speaking a day after phone calls with the premiers of both countries, Trump said he was happy to try and help calm the situation in Kashmir where tensions have spiked since India revoked autonomous rule in the part of the region it controls on August 5.

His comments came as Pakistan said three of its civilians died in Indian gunfire from across the de facto border in Kashmir known as the Line of Control. New Delhi claimed one Indian soldier died and four were wounded when Pakistani troops retaliated fire on forward posts and villages along the LoC in the Poonch district.

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Both Pakistan and India are nuclear powers and the situation in Kashmir is further complicated by the fact that China also claims part of the Himalayan region. Trump - who has previously spoken of his willingness to mediate - said he would raise the situation over the weekend with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Both men are expected in France for a summit of the Group of Seven industrialised nations. “Kashmir is a very complicated place. You have Hindus and you have the Muslims and I wouldn’t say they get along so great,” Trump said at the White House. “I will do the best I can to mediate,” he added.

Last day, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Modi in a phone call that the Kashmir dispute must be resolved between India and Pakistan alone. Johnson made clear that the UK views the issue of Kashmir as one for Pakistan and India to resolve bilaterally. Yesterday, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom urged thorough enquiry of sheer human rights violations in Kashmir. In a telephonic conversation with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, she said that Kashmir issue must be decided by keeping in view the will of Kashmiris.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide to discuss the illegal actions by India in the Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The Foreign Minister briefed his Norwegian counterpart on the unilateral steps taken by the Indian Government in order to consolidate its illegal occupation of the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He added that the measures taken by India were against the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council on Jammu and Kashmir and international law. The FM apprised the Norwegian Foreign Minister of the grave human rights and humanitarian situation in Kashmir, including severe shortages of basic necessities of life such as food and medicines.

He added that the entire population of Kashmir was under siege due to complete lockdown and curfew since 5 August 2019. The Foreign Minister urged Norway to play its role and impress upon India to ease the suffering of the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Foreign Minister Soreide stated that Norway was concerned about situation in Kashmir and added that they would urge both India and Pakistan to deescalate the situation and ease tensions. She underscored that it was important for both the countries to engage in dialogue to find a durable solution to the issue.

Foreign Minister Qureshi also discussed the current situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir with Foreign Minister Jeppe Sebastian Kofod of Denmark yesterday over the telephone. He briefed his Danish counterpart on India’s illegal and unilateral actions to change the disputed status of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and its demographic structure.

He apprised the Danish Foreign Minister of the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation, including severe shortages of basic necessities of life such as food and medicines, and complete communications blackout.

He added that Pakistan was always committed to resolving issues through peaceful means and Pakistan’s peace overtures and offers of dialogue had been rebuffed by India. The Foreign Minister urged Denmark to play its role and impress upon India to lift the curfew and ameliorate the hardships and suffering of the people in Kashmir. Foreign Minister Kofod stated that Denmark was following the situation with grave concern. He added that Denmark fully supported the statements of the UN Secretary General and the EU High Representative on the issue of Kashmir.

He urged both India and Pakistan to enter into a dialogue and desist from any actions that could further escalate the situation. He underlined that any further deterioration in the situation could have devastating consequences.