In a move that has riled up some members of India’s opposition parties, Barack Obama linked the tensions in Indian Kashmir with Pakistan’s clashes with militants along its border with Afghanistan, and suggested that “we should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis.”
A spokesman for India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) condemned the Obama comments as “an unwarranted interference in India’s internal affairs.” The Indian government is attempting to downplay the statement however, with official sources saying it “could be pre-election rhetoric and needs to be ignored.”
India’s government has faced growing difficulties in containing separatist sentiments in the Muslim majority state, with police regularly resorting to violence to quell protests. The state government collapsed in July, and the national government has declined to set a date for new elections. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said he opposes external militant groups taking part in Kashmir violence, but he believes the Kashmiris are justified in using force to expel Indian forces from Kashmir.