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Kashmir and the Palestine are the longest simmering disputes in the world. These are pending on the agenda of the United Nations ever since the organization’s formation in 1945.
It was India which opted for international intervention in Kashmir, in 1948 after several months of war between the new states of India and Pakistan. Pundit Nehru, India’s first prime minister that sought United Nation’s help. Ironically later it was India which stonewalled every international effort seeking to resolve the Kashmir dispute. In recent years, India has rebuffed all efforts even by friendly countries to help find a solution through mediation.
Trump offers mediation on Kashmir
US presidents and administrations have been very cautious in referring towards Kashmir. Both Bill Clinton and Barak Obama, before becoming presidents have talked eloquently of Kashmir and even made campaign promises to find a solution but as presidents of the United States they kept their mouths shut. However, on 22nd July, US President Donald Trump’s unexpected offer to mediate the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, the silence and inertia at the international level has been suddenly broken and people have started wondering in both India and Pakistan if this could lead to something.
I was surprised to know how long it has been going on. I think they would like to see it resolved, you [Pakistan] would like to see it resolve […] and if I can help, I would love to become a mediator, said Trump.
“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator,” Trump said at the White House, where he was hosting Prime Minister Imran Khan. “If I can do anything to help, let me know.” To this, PM Khan said that if Trump would, he would “have the prayers of more than a billion people”. This odd moment came when Khurram Shahzad, foreign correspondent of 92 News, asked a pointed question to Trump on Kashmir.
Pakistan’s premier said the US, being the most powerful country in the world, can play the most important role in bringing peace to the subcontinent. It is crucial to state here that the Indian brutality has continued unabated and the world has remained silent for a long time.
“There are over a billion and quarter people in the subcontinent, they are held hostage to the issue of Kashmir, and I feel that only the most powerful state, headed by President Trump, can bring the two countries together,” PM Khan said.
“From my point, I can tell you we have tried our best, we have made all overtures to India to start a dialogue, resolve our differences through dialogue, but unfortunately we haven’t made headways as yet. But I am hoping that President Trump would push this process,” Khan added.
Modi had asked Trump for mediation?
In response, Trump revealed that India had also asked him to mediate: “I was with Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi two weeks ago. We talked about the subject and he actually said, ‘Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?’. I said where, he said Kashmir, because it has been going on for many, many years.”
Trump’s exact comment:
“I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago (G8 summit at Osaka) and we talked about this subject.
He (Modi) actually said, if you would like to be a mediator or arbitrator.
I asked, where?
He said, Kashmir.”
— Krishan Partap Singh (@RaisinaSeries) July 22, 2019
“I was surprised to know how long it has been going on. I think they would like to see it resolved, you [Pakistan] would like to see it resolve […] and if I can help, I would love to become a mediator,” said Trump. “I have heard so much about Kashmir; it’s a beautiful place,” he added.
This was a shocker. Modi and Trump had actually met two weeks ago at a G-8 summit in Osaka. But India asking a third country, especially the United States which has always been looked upon a the natural mediator, to mediate on Kashmir is against India’s long standing policy. But Trump inventing the whole thing is also not believable. It is quite possible that Modi showing his love and desire for peace had harmony in the region had suggested that he was ready to talk on Kashmir. He would not have expected Trump to let his words out.
India Refutes Trump’s Remarks
Shortly after President Trump spoke about Kashmir issue and Indian PM Modi’s request to become a mediator, India’s Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar denied that any such request had been made by Indian Prime Minister.
It is the right time for the international community and the world powers to break their silence and initiate a meaningful process towards resolving the Kashmir dispute.
We have seen @POTUS's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President. It has been India's consistent position…1/2
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) July 22, 2019
…that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally.2/2
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) July 22, 2019
Foreign policy experts believe that New Delhi is sending a strong message to the US state department that it should impress upon President Trump not to assert on Modi’s words again. “Its a diplomatic warning from Delhi” Dr. Moeed Pirzada, prominent TV Anchor and columnist told GVS. Modi may have uttered these words in a moment of less caution in order to impress Trump with his credentials for peace, but now Trump’s open admission has embarrassed Modi, Pirzada explained. Peace activists on both sides of the divide are disappointed. They believe that India should have welcomed the move instead of issuing a denial as Kashmir remains a flashpoint that could ignite anytime endangering the peace and stability of the whole South Asian region.
Irrespective of what Modi had said or not said, President Trump’s offer has signaled a shift in long-standing US policy that had caved in to the Indian position that the “issue must be solved bilaterally”. However given India’s strong reaction it remains to be seen if his offer can make any difference on the ground. One thing may become clear to Trump that its not Pakistan but India that is a hurdle in the way of peace in South Asia.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) July 22, 2019