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The US is in the "best position" to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue and it can play a "leadership" role before crises between the two neighbours explode, Pakistan's top diplomat to the UN has said. "Somebody needs to play this role and the United States is in the best position to do that," Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the Washington-based think-tank World Affairs Council, in a television programme broadcast yesterday. She said the US was in a unique position to defuse the rising tensions between India and Pakistan over the decades- old Kashmir issue as it has good relations with both India and Pakistan, according to a press release of her remarks issued by Pakistan's Permanent Mission to the UN. She added that such a role required a more balanced policy on part of US, several Pakistani media quoted her as saying in the programme. At this point of time the situation in Kashmir is once again inflamed; the situation is grave, it poses a critical threat to regional peace and security and again, she said. "What we would like to see is the US not coming in as a fire brigade to put out a fire but to play a role to avert any kind of crisis from brewing and flaring up," she said. "I am not suggesting that's about to happen but I am saying that before the next crisis happens this is a role of leadership that the US can play," she said. Lodhi pointed out that in recent years, people in Pakistan have felt that the US lacked balance in its approach to South Asia, and "as a result we lost something in the relationship." She said the lack of balance was best represented by the nuclear deal - the civilian nuclear deal that the Bush administration concluded with India - which was a discriminatory nuclear policy towards the region and had consequences for it. On the Kashmir issue, she said, "This is no piece of real estate that Pakistan and India are fighting over, this is about people, it is about the self-determination of the people, and their right to their self-determination is enshrined in the UN charter, in UN declarations and in UN Security Council resolutions, so all we say is allow the people of Kashmir to decide their future." Lodhi stressed the need for a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir and other issues between the two countries.