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U.S. Urges Calm As Dispute Escalates Over Kashmir Between India And Pakistan


Indian migrant laborers speak on their mobile phones as they prepare to leave the region, at a railway station in Jammu, on August 7.

ISLAMABAD -- The United States on August 7 called for calm and restraint as a dispute between India and Pakistan escalated over the disputed region of Kashmir.

"We continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern," a U.S. Secretary of State spokeswoman said in a statement, as cited by Reuters.

The brief statement coincided with a five-day trip to Pakistan by Alice Wells, acting assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs.

She is holding talks on the Afghan peace process while Pakistani officials are expected to address the Kashmir dispute. Wells will also visit India and Sri Lanka after meetings in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to use “every forum” to force New Delhi to reverse its decision to strip Indian-administered Kashmir of its special status and split the Himalayan state.

Addressing a joint session of parliament on August 6, Khan pledged to raise the matter with heads of state and take the issue to the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court.

He told lawmakers in Islamabad that India's actions, which he called illegal under international law, could lead to an all-out conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, adding: "No one will be the winner in that case."

There is a long-running insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir, which is divided between the two neighbors.

The Muslim-majority Himalayan region is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan.

Two of the three wars the two countries have fought since their 1947 independence from British rule were over Kashmir.

The Indian side of Kashmir remained locked down on August 7 as India's lower house of parliament approved the revocation of Kashmir's special constitutional status that gave it significant autonomy from the rest of the country.

The chamber also cleared a bill to split the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, a day after the upper house backed the measures.

The U.S. State Department has called on “all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control" that serves as a de facto border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir.

Amid fears of fresh violence in the Indian-ruled part of Kashmir, India’s moves were accompanied by a telecoms blackout in the region, restrictions on public movement, and the deployment of thousands of troops.

Despite the measures, sporadic protests were reported in the Indian side of Kashmir.

Protests also continued in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and Pakistan for a second day, with hundreds of people shouting anti-India slogans.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, the BBC, and AFP
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