President Donald Trump met Pakistani PM Imran Khan in Davos and said that the United States was watching developments between India and Pakistan over Kashmir “very closely” and was prepared to help if necessary, but did not say how.
Trump went ahead and commented on US-Pak relationship, saying that, “The US has never been closer with Pakistan than we are now.” This is a cause of concern for India which is already facing turbulence in its ties with the US. This use of ‘soft power’ has been commended by International Affairs experts.
Speaking ahead of talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, Trump said trade and borders were both critical points for discussion, while Khan said that for him Afghanistan was the top priority.
“Trade is going to be of very, very paramount importance … and we’re working together on some borders, and we’re talking about Kashmir in relation to what is going on with Pakistan and India. And if we can help we certainly will be helping,” he said.
Both of us are interested in peace there and an orderly transition in Afghanistan with talks with the Taliban and the government
“We’ve been watching that and following it very, very closely,” he added.
Kashmir, which sits high in the Himalayas between India and Pakistan, has been in dispute between the nuclear-armed neighbors since they gained independence in 1947.
Tensions between the two have flared since August last year, when India sent troops to its side of Kashmir to quell unrest after it revoked the area’s special autonomous status. Because India and Pakistan have either actively or inactively been at war over Kashmir, any stand-off in the region is fraught with risk.
India is also facing increasing international diplomatic pressure for its human rights violations in Kashmir – where curfew continues after 170 days and people lack access to basic necessities.
Prime Minister Khan, an international cricketer before turning to politics, said that while relations with India were important, the most pressing concern was Afghanistan.
“The main issue, of course, is Afghanistan because it concerns the U.S. and Pakistan,” he said. “Both of us are interested in peace there and an orderly transition in Afghanistan with talks with the Taliban and the government.”
Khan is one of at least three leaders Trump is scheduled to meet at Davos. The others include European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Iraqi President Barham Salih.
Reuters with additional input from GVS News Desk