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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 34 New Delhi August 10, 2019

Trump plays foul with ‘friend’ Modi

Sunday 11 August 2019

by Madan Mohan Khajooia

During his recent visit to the USA Prime Minister Imran Khan was accompanied by the most powerful man in Pakistan, Chief of Pak Army General Staff Gen. Bajwa. This is of great significance and signals that whatever position Imran Khan took in his negotiations with President Trump had the approval of the Pakistan Army. On return from the USA Khan’s morale was soaring high. His optimism seemed to have no bound. Trump had obliged him by supporting a demand on which Pakistan was harping for years in the UN and diplomatic circles. This India had repeatedly and comprehensively rejected. And for good reasons.

Trump had expressed his willingness bordering on keenness to mediate between India and Pakistan on the so-called Kashmir issue. Trump surprised friends and foes alike by claiming that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested him to ‘mediate or arbitrate’ on the Kashmir issue.” The Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar was quick to respond. He told Parliament: “I would like to categorically assure the House that no such request has been made by the Prime Minister to the US President. I repeat, no such request was made by the Prime Minister to the US President.” What motivated Trump to make this claim that places ’friend’ Modi in an unenviable position is shrouded in mystery. Because it is public knowledge that no Prime Minister of this country could make such a proposal on the emotive and strategic issue of Kashmir vis-a-vis Pakistan and survive.

Moreover, under the Shimla Ageement(1972) it was specifically and categorically stated;

“That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through BILATERAL NEGOTIATIONS OR BY ANY OTHER PEACEFUL MEANS MUTUALLY AGREED UPON BETWEEN THEM.” [Clause(1)]

Remember under this Agreement we released 93 thousand Prisoners of War and returned to the defeated country huge chunks of land occupied after great sacrifice. The 1999 Lahore Declaration was in the same spirit.

International Agencies (Washington, July 22, 2019) have put the episode in proper perspective. I quote “the 1972 Shimla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore Declaration included India’s and Pakistan’s commitment to resolving issues between them. It is unlikely that Mr Modi would have spoken out of line with this policy.”

By now it is apparent that Trump‘s Mediation remarks were certainly not made off the cuff. Even if it were a case of misunderstanding of some remarks made by PM Modi for whatever reason, the matter would have been allowed to rest after what External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said in Parliament. But what happened?

Donald Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House that “The President doesn’t make things up.” Now listen to what Trump himself told the media..

“I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago (in Osaka, Japan on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit last month), and we talked about the subject. And he actually said, ‘would you like to be a mediator, or arbitrator’, and I said ‘where?’, and he said ‘Kashmir’, because this has been going on for many, many years.”

India had taken a firm and principled position that negotiations with Pakistan were only possible after Pakistan stopped promoting, sheltering and grooming terrorists within J&K as well on her own soil, demolished terrorist training camps and shut down launching pads along the borders between the two countries. Pakistan’s response was increased attempts at infiltration, recruiting more and more terrorists through ISI and Wahabi junta and direct her overground proxies to intensify subversive activities. Trump chose not to say a word regarding reining in of the terrorism unleashed by Pakistan in Jammu Kashmir, a position that the country had consistently taken.

“I think they would like to see it resolved. I think you would like to see it resolved and if I can help, I would love to be a mediator” continued Trump. “It is impossible to believe,” he said, “can’t resolve it...but if you want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do it.”

“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator. If I can do anything to help, let me know,” he added. Mark the words “two incredible countries that are very, very smart and very smart leadership”. Believe it or not he actually equated Imran Khan with PM Modi

His recent comments are mere half-hearted re-hash of what he had stated earlier wherein his message was loud and clear.

There are unmistakable indicators that the US President is courting a beleaguered and impoverished Pakistan to serve American vested interests. Trump, obviously, took the line favoured by his Pakistani interlocutors on Kashmir to secure Pakistan’s help on security talks with the Taliban. and brighten the chances of his plans for a pullout from Afghanistan. Trump appears to be in a desperate hurry to clinch the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. That is where Pakistan comes in. But any hasty and half-baked measures to force a resolution in Afghanistan to the advantage of the Taliban-Pak combine will have serious far-reaching and lasting impact on India.

Isn’t the unfolding scenario not reminiscent of Anglo-American cozy relations about the time of Indian independence and creation of Pakistan? At that point of time the Anglo-American bloc successfully conspired to slice a part of India, Gilgit-Baltistan, and gift it to their favourite ally Pakistan. Pak in return dutifully helped them to complete the encirclement of the USSR. This was for the Anglo-American combine a top priority project.

It will be pertinent to mention here that all solutions of the ”Kashmir problem” emanating from US “Think Tanks” were pro-Pak and based of communal consideration and diluted Indian sovereignty.. Rest is history. And History has a bad habit of repeating itself.

It would be unwise to prematurely rock US-India relations on this issue, howsoever distasteful the incident may be. At the same time we need to keenly watch how do the USA and Pakistan move on Afghanistan and react appropriately to protect our national interests. We must simultaneously deepen our cooperation both in information sharing and consultations with our friends in the region. Obviously we cannot afford any surprises on this crucial front. The requirement is to rush to the drawing board and craft alternative policy responses to all predictable scenarios on the Indo-US front.

The author is a Director-General Police (retd) in Kashmir and the Chairman; J&K Ex-Policmen’s League. He esides in Jammu.

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