For a year now, India and Pakistan relations have been at their lowest ebb. New Delhi has time and again rejected the offer of the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to mediate in resolving the dispute between the neighbors and maintained a similar stance over President Trump’s willingness to arbitrate the Kashmir dispute.
Now, Trump is visiting India to recover strained Indo-US bilateral trade and also to augment his support among the American-Indian constituency in the next Presidential election.
On Monday, addressing the ‘Namaste Trump’ rally in Ahmedabad, Trump said his country’s relationship with Pakistan is “very good,” and that his administration was working in a “very positive way with Pakistan to crack down on terrorist organizations and militants which operate on the Pakistani border.”
Modi frequently makes jingoistic statements to divert the attention of the Indian masses from the country’s deteriorating economic growth, lockdown of the Kashmiris in Indian-administered Kashmir
Indeed, his host must have been upset about the reference to the improvement of relations with Pakistan, but thrilled to hear about the crackdown on ‘terrorist organizations.’
It validates Modi’s frequent mantra of militants operating on the Pakistani border conducting terrorist acts in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Trump said, “We are beginning to see signs of big progress with Pakistan, and we are hopeful for reduced tensions, greater stability, and the future of harmony for all of the nations of South Asia.”
Read more: Nipping In The bud: Trump Gains by Arresting Indian Ambitions
He expressed his optimism about the lessening of tensions between India and Pakistan, but failed to speak about the Modi government’s unwillingness to change its Kashmir policy or its discriminatory Citizen Amendment Act (CAA).
Hence, the moment he leaves India, his ‘peace and harmony’ optimism will be reduced to nothing.
The comparative study of India and Pakistan’s military capabilities reveals that neither side will win a war. But the escalation of a conflict between the neighbors will not only be dangerous for both states, but also severely undermine the economic security of Indian Ocean rim states.
Modi has also threatened to abandon the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty- a water-sharing agreement between India and Pakistan brokered by the World Bank
The Trump administration’s designation of China as a strategic competitor, and its pursuit of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” improved India’s significance in US strategic calculations.
The Americans are convinced that a strong, confident India on the world stage is in America’s best interests. But the increasing military power of India is a cause for insecurity for Pakistan.
India emerged as an important market for advanced American weapons. Currently, the US is India’s second largest defense supplier, with military sales totalling $18 billion since 2008. Increasing US-Indian defense trade is viewed intimidatingly in Pakistan.
The continuity of military tensions since the Pulwama attack in February last year and Modi’s recurrent hawkish statements have increased the probability of the escalation of the conflict along the Line of Control into an all out war– even entailing nuclear weapon strikes. Many security analysts have warned that Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint.
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Though the Bharatiya Janata Party led by Modi secured an overwhelming majority in the general elections in 2019, it was defeated in recent state elections, which underscored that Modi’s popularity has been sliding due to his Hindutva policies.
These include the failure of his economic program, anti-Kashmir and anti-minority policies. Millions have been protesting over the Citizen Amendment Act and several have lost their lives in the violence.
Modi frequently makes jingoistic statements to divert the attention of the Indian masses from the country’s deteriorating economic growth, lockdown of the Kashmiris in Indian-administered Kashmir, and the Citizen Amendment Act.
Therefore, expecting that the Indians might accept Trump’s role in settling the Kashmir dispute is merely wishful thinking
He has also threatened to abandon the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty- a water-sharing agreement between India and Pakistan brokered by the World Bank.
The quashing of the Treaty could start a water war. While advising belligerent neighbors for restraint policies, earlier this month, during his visit to Pakistan UNSG Guterres said: “Water must be an instrument of peace and not an instrument of conflict.”
The fact is, Trump enjoys limited influence over Modi.
New Delhi cannot accede to Washington’s demand that it sever defense ties with Russia entirely. The Indians have been jealously guarding their strategic autonomy and that is why Trump refrained from referencing Kashmir in his Ahmedabad speech.
Read more: Did Trump love India during the visit?
India is reluctant to third party mediation on the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. Therefore, expecting that the Indians might accept Trump’s role in settling the Kashmir dispute is merely wishful thinking.
The Modi government’s approach that there is no role or scope for third party mediation and the suspension of a dialogue process only endures the volatile situation between India and Pakistan. Besides, the shift in both states’ war doctrines and intimidating exchanges between their ruling elite have the entire region panicked– and rightly so.
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He is also an advisor on Non-Proliferation to SASSI, London and a course coordinator at Foreign Services Academy for the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This piece was first published in Arab News Pakistan Edition. It has been republished with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.