After US President Donald Trump’s offer of mediation on Kashmir issue, India rejected it saying Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday that no such request was made by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the U.S President during the G20 summit in Osaka (Japan). The opposition party Congress welcomed the government’s reiteration of India’s ‘no third party involvement’ stand on the Kashmir issue but asked why PM Modi is mum over Trump’s claim that he (Modi) asked him to mediate on the issue. On the other hand, Pakistan PM Imran Khan welcomed Trump’s remarks and said if the US agrees, prayers of more than a billion people will be with him.
Strong reactions have come to the fore across India over this issue. The Parliament witnessed a ruckus over Trump’s remarks on Kashmir mediation. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned over this and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had to give a statement in the House. Leaders of opposition parties and ruling coalition NDA are on boil. India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by Pakistan-based terrorists. It said that talks and terror cannot go together.
It is remarkable that Trump’s offer to mediate on the Kashmir issue came as he met Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House on Monday when the two leaders discussed a host of issues. India has lodged a strong protest with the US State Department over President Donald Trump’s controversial claim that PM Modi had asked him to mediate in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.
After this controversial statement, the Trump administration has launched a damage control exercise. The US State Department on Tuesday said that Kashmir is “bilateral” issue between India and Pakistan, and the US welcomes the two countries sitting down for talks. It also said Pakistan taking “sustained and irreversible” steps against terrorism is key to a successful dialogue with India. For more than a decade, the U.S. has consistently insisted that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and it is for the two countries to decide on the nature and scope of the dialogue. “We believe the foundation for any successful dialogue between India and Pakistan is based on Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible steps against militants and terrorists on its territory. These actions are in line with Prime Minister (Imran) Khan’s stated commitments, and Pakistan’s international obligations,” the State Department spokesperson said.
Prior to this, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, “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.”
…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
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) July 22, 2019
The Congress along with other opposition parties has demanded that PM Modi should clarify whether there has been a shift in India’s position of no third party involvement in the Kashmir issue after Trump offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the matter. Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had said India has never accepted third party mediation in Jammu and Kashmir. “To ask a foreign power to mediate in J&K by PM Modi is a sacrilegious betrayal of country’s interests. Let PM answer to the Nation!” he tweeted.
“I honestly don’t think Trump has the slightest idea of what he’s talking about. He has either not been briefed or not understood what (Prime Minister) Modi was saying or what India’s position is on 3rd-party mediation. That said, MEA should clarify that Delhi has never sought his intercession,” senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted earlier.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah wondered whether the Indian government will call the US President a liar or there has been a shift in India’s position on third party involvement in dispute. “Personally I think @realDonaldTrump is talking out of his hat when he says @PMOIndia asked for US involvement in solving the Kashmir issue but I’d like to see @MEAIndia call Trump out on his claim,” Abdullah tweeted.
Personally I think @realDonaldTrump is talking out of his hat when he says @PMOIndia asked for US involvement in solving the Kashmir issue but I’d like to see @MEAIndia call Trump out on his claim. https://t.co/JRlH4mehrp
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) July 22, 2019
CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury asked whether “our twitter-friendly PM” has the courage to rebut the US President who has made a public statement. “What does this say about our long-held position of sovereignty over the Indian state of J&K, as defined in the Shimla Agreement?” he said. “India has always maintained it’s a bilateral issue, with no scope for third-party interference. What is this government up to?” Yechury asked.
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) July 22, 2019