Reading Trump’s Kashmir offer

By Moderator July 24, 2019 12:39


US President Donald Trump said Monday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate on Kashmir, and that he “would love to help”.

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  • Trump’s claim has since been rebutted by Ministry of External Affairs and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
  • India has reiterated its longstanding position that there is no room for mediation in Kashmir or on any other India-Pakistan issue and that all outstanding matters between the two countries would be resolved through bilateral dialogue — but only when Pakistan ends cross-border terrorism in India.
  • There could be several reasons for Trump trying to wade into Kashmir.
    • For one, he may think it is easy. In February this year, he claimed to have defused the India-Pakistan standoff that arose from the Pulwama attack. The US is said to have played a part in the release of an Indian Air Force pilot who was captured across the LoC.
    • The US also played a role in forcing China to agree to the designation of Jaish chief Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist”.

Reason to insists on bilateralism with Pakistan

  • The Indian position has historically stemmed from its mistrust of outsiders meddling in its internal affairs, the strongly felt need to protect its secular nationhood project, and suspicion that mediators viewed Kashmir through Pakistani eyes.
    • The UN missions flowing from the resolutions, including the Dixon Mission, which led to the Dixon Plan of 1950 for partition of some areas of Jammu & Kashmir between India and Pakistan (Ladakh to India, PoK and Northern Areas to Pakistan, with Jammu divided between the two), plus a plebiscite in the Valley, strengthened India’s determination to shut the door on international mediation.
  • The framework for bilateral resolution of problems between India and Pakistan was written into the 1972 Simla Agreement and reiterated 27 years later in the Lahore Declaration.
  • Nonetheless, Pakistan has continued to view the “internationalisation” of the Kashmir issue as its best bet towards reversing J&K’s accession to India, and has used every global forum to criticise India’s “illegal occupation” of Kashmir.

Earlier US intervention On Kashmir Issue

  • While India has mostly succeeded in conveying that it would brook no third-party mediation, Trump’s offer is not the first time that an American leader has sought to “help” India and Pakistan resolve the Kashmir dispute.
  • In 1993, Robin Raphel, who headed the State Department’s newly created South Asia division in the first Clinton Administration, sought to junk the Instrument of Accession, and asserted that for the US, Kashmir was “disputed territory”, undermining years of Indian diplomatic efforts.
    • Her statement was taken far more seriously than Trump’s remark on Monday, and in India, she was seen as being pro-Pakistan and anti-India.
    • It was at that time that the Kashmiri people began to be viewed as the third side to what was until then perceived as an issue between just India and Pakistan.
  • As New Delhi’s post-liberalisation economic clout grew, Raphel’s influence in the State Department faded. Clinton 2.0 embraced the Indian stand on bilateralism.
  • But as Pakistan’s hand in the 1990’s uprising in Kashmir and cross-border terrorism became apparent, it was India that sought outside help to rein in Pakistani meddling in the Valley.
    • In 1999, the year after India and Pakistan went nuclear, it was US intervention that brought the Kargil crisis to an end.
    • The Vajpayee government had been in touch with the Clinton Administration to get the Nawaz Sharif government to call off the intrusion in Kargil, even as the Indian Army fought the Pakistani forces.
      • Sharif arrived in Washington on July 3, seeking Clinton’s help for a face-saving ceasefire that would include a US-guaranteed settlement on Kashmir.
      • But he had to agree to an unconditional withdrawal of Pakistani forces back to the Line of Control.
      • Clinton denied him a face-saver on Kashmir, and reaffirmed the US commitment to the bilateral Lahore Declaration signed earlier that year as the best way forward to resolve Kashmir and other issues.

Other efforts: The United Kingdom and Norway

  • The United Kingdom, which has a large diaspora from the PoK, has also shown interest in being a mediator.
    • International interest in Kashmir has usually found expression when there’s a vacuum in India-Pakistan engagement, when “nothing” seems to be happening on the bilateral front, and especially if the Kashmir issue is also on the boil in the same period, as it has been over the last five years.
  • Last year, apart from the UN Human Rights Council’s stinging report on Kashmir, former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik visited Srinagar, met with the separatist leadership there and, after returning, went on to visit Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
    • Norway’s long history of mediation in conflict situations


By Moderator July 24, 2019 12:39