NEW YORK - While underlining the importance of resolving the Kashmir problem, Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama has accused Pakistan of tolerating or in some cases funding the Mujahideen in Kashmir, saying such efforts are "counterproductive" for Islamabad. "Kashmir continues to be a constant instigator of tension between India and Pakistan," he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published in its Monday edition as he made a case for US to put the problem "on the table for discussions". He did not elaborate. "If one of the central concerns of Pakistan is its security posture towards India, then we need to put that on the table for discussion as we try to solve the problems in Afghanistan," he told the newspaper as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani began a three-day visit to Washington. Without involving itself in active diplomacy, the United States has been quietly encouraging India and Pakistan to resolve their dispute over Kashmir. Obama went on to say, "(H)istorically, Pakistan has tolerated, or in some cases, funded the mujahideen ... because they think it's somehow helpful to them in Kashmir. We have to have an honest conversation about how counterproductive that is." Obama said he would meet Gilani, the new Pakistani leader, who formed the government following the February election. Asked whether US should play a role in negotiations been Pakistan and India, he said, "Use that as an example of how we need to think comprehensively about the region." About the talks between Gilani and President Bush in Washington, Obama said the US must emphasise the importance of closing down militant camps. "It's not just in the interest of Afghan security, or US security, it is in the interest of Pakistani security that we shut down those bases down," he said. "I know that the new prime minister is coming to Washington. I'll be very interested hearing what he has to say. Obviously, they're a new government. They're just getting their sea legs. But I think it's very important that we emphasise to them how serious we take these base camps," he added. Our Monitoring Desk adds: on NBC's "Meet the Press", Obama reiterated his belief that Afghanistan is the centre of the war against terrorists, adding that it appears terrorists are regrouping in Afghanistan, making it the "central front on terror." "They have safe havens along the Afghan-Pakistan border," he said. To a question that any unilateral attack by the US will set off a conflagration within Pakistan and that's part of the reason that President Pervez Musharraf played it the way that he did, Obama said, "Right. Well, look, there's no doubt that the situation in Pakistan is complicated. I think it was made more complicated by our insistence on providing Musharraf with a lot of military aid, ignoring some of the problems in terms of his anti-democratic practices, and ignoring the fact that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda was resurgent in that area. "If we are reaching out to the Pakistanis and working with them not only about our security interests, but also about the well-being of the Pakistani people and if we are encouraging democratic practices and human rights and making sure that Supreme Court justices are not kicked off the bench because they're not providing rulings that are of the liking to the military, that will gain more support for our policies in the region and in Pakistan, and hopefully will give more political space for them to act forcefully against the extremists in the region," he added. He repeated the need for more troops in Afghanistan and additional assistance from Pakistan. He said the Bush administration needs to be more aggressive in pushing Pakistan to go after terrorist camps in the tribal areas along its border with Afghanistan. Obama further said it was not just in the interest of Afghan security or US security, but it was also in the interest of Pakistani security long term that "we shut those bases down". "If we are reaching out to the Pakistanis, and working with them not only about our security interests but also the well-being of the Pakistani people, ... that will gain more support for our policies in the region and in Pakistan and hopefully give more political space to act forcefully." Asked about any specific areas of the US foreign policy that surprised him during his foreign trip, he said, "I think ... it was interesting to see the unanimity with which people expressed concerns about Al-Qaeda's and the Taliban's operations in the tribal areas and how that has to be at the centre of efforts there, of getting Pakistan to be more cooperative in rooting out those save havens." The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said that during his just-completed tour of the Middle East and Europe, he saw signs the fight against terror should be focused on Afghanistan. The senator called for additional coalition troops in Afghanistan rather than Iraq and praised those soldiers currently serving in both countries. "Frankly, we need a more serious effort on the part of the Afghan government and President Karzai to get out of Kabul, to start the development process. We're going to need two additional brigades in Afghanistan and we've got to work with Pakistan to get serious about these terrorist safe havens," he stated. "We've got to work with Pakistan to make sure that they're taking seriously the incursions by terrorists into Afghanistan from Pakistan, that we've got to develop a strategy to encourage economic development both in Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said. To another question, he said, "We give money to Pakistan, much of it in the form of military aid. I would argue that too much of it has been in the form of just military aid and not enough of it has been in the form of building schools and building infrastructure in the country to help develop and give opportunity to the Pakistani people."