The (Indian) government on Wednesday pushed back against US president Donald Trump’s latest offer to help in resolving the Kashmir issue, with people familiar with developments saying there was “no role” for a third party in the matter.
Despite India’s persistent spurning of his offers to mediate or assist in handling the Kashmir issue, the US president made another attempt at raking up the matter ahead of his meeting with Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan on the margins of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos on Tuesday.
“Our position on the Kashmir issue has been clear and consistent. There is no role for any third party in this matter,” said a person who declined to be named.
“There is nothing further to add,” the person said.
This was the seventh time since July last year that Trump has offered some variations of assistance for resolving the Kashmir issue, including “mediation”, ”arbitration” or “intervene”.
India has consistently pushed back every time Trump has raised Kashmir, with the external affairs ministry roundly dismissing the US president’s claim last July that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had requested him to mediate on the Kashmir issue.
Ahead of his meeting with Khan on Tuesday, Trump said they would be “talking about Kashmir in relation to what’s going on with Pakistan and India”. He added: “And if we can help, we certainly will be helping.”
The US, he said, has been watching the issue and “following it very, very closely”. Khan welcomed his remarks and described Kashmir as “a big issue” for Pakistan. “Of course, we always hope that the US would play its part in resolving it because no other country can,” he said.
However, the readout issued by the White House about the meeting made no mention of Kashmir.
Trump’s remarks came weeks ahead of an expected visit to India. Experts said they were clearly made with an eye on securing Pakistan’s assistance for the troubled peace process in Afghanistan.
Rajiv Dogra, a former ambassador who served in Pakistan, said: “This is a meeting of interests and Imran Khan knows he has Trump where it hurts him the most – Afghanistan. It’s a beautiful bargain for them and all the strategic theories have gone for a six ever since Trump was sworn in.”
The Indian government has bristled at all mentions of Kashmir on international platforms, including China’s recent effort to discuss the issue at the UN Security Council, as it deals with the fallout of the security lockdown, communications blackout and detentions in the erstwhile state.
Trump’s first offer on Kashmir came on July 22, 2019, during Khan’s first visit to the White House. “If I can help, I would love to be a mediator,” Trump had said, in response to an appeal from Khan. “It…impossible to believe two incredible countries that are very, very smart, with very smart leadership, can’t solve a problem like that. But if you want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that.”
He prefaced the offer with the stunning claim that PM Modi had asked him to arbitrate. The response from New Delhi was swift and unequivocal: “Modi never invited Trump to mediate and India considers Kashmir a bilateral issue to be resolved with Pakistan.”__Hindustan Times