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Trump’s Mediation Claim Startles all in Kashmir, But Does it Mean Anything for Locals?

An academician said it would have to be seen if such a statement was made out of any “genuine concern for the resolution” of the Kashmir dispute.

Aakash Hassan | News18.com@Aakashhassan

Updated:July 23, 2019, 5:43 PM IST
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Trump’s Mediation Claim Startles all in Kashmir, But Does it Mean Anything for Locals?
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Srinagar: Following US President Donald Trump’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue, which New Delhi has categorically denied, the Valley is abuzz with talks on what does it mean for locals.

Trump made the statement on Kashmir in the presence of Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, during a press briefing in Washington prior to the formal meeting of the two premiers. India was quick to issue a statement on this, denying Trump’s claim that Modi had sought US mediation to resolve the Kashmir issue.

“It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross-border terrorism,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday as the issue triggered a massive political row.

Trump’s statement came as a surprise to people of Kashmir and soon reactions started pouring in from mainstream political leaders as well as separatists.

In a series of tweets, Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and senior National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah asked if India had changed its stand to resolve the issue of Kashmir bilaterally.

“Is Govt of India going to call @realDonaldTrump a liar or has there been an undeclared shift in India’s position on third party involvement in #Kashmir?” he wrote.

“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,” he further said.

However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) welcomed the “development”. The party’s official Twitter handle wrote, “Welcome such a positive development laden with potential to establish permanent peace in the subcontinent. Dialogue and Diplomacy not warmongering the only means which can deliver some respite to the people of subcontinent engulfed in raging fires of hatred.”

Separatist leader and head priest of Kashmir Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who has been lately pushing for talks, welcomed Trump’s statement.

“Being the most affected party people of #Kashmir want an early resolution to the lingering Kashmir conflict. Been urging for dialogue at all levels. Every effort, pushing India and Pakistan in that direction @POTUS is welcome by the people of J&K,” he said.

But does Trump’s statement mean anything at all?

“We have one head of state, Trump, saying that the other head of state, Modi, asked him to be a mediator, with the latter denying having said anything like that. So from a Kashmiri point of view, it is a curious situation. Because we get to ask who is lying?” said Siddiq Wahid, former vice chancellor of Islamic University, Kashmir, and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

Wahid further said that Trump’s claims and the US government’s statements may not be on the same lines. “We have enough lies and deceit and confusion in Jammu and Kashmir. We don’t need Trump,” he said, adding, “However, if it is the Unites States as the government (ready to mediate), then that is a separate matter.”

However, Wahid felt that Trump’s statement could be in some way connected to Afghanistan. “When they (the US and Pakistan) meet on Afghanistan or Kashmir, they don’t seem to include Afghans or Kashmiris and I think that is very objectionable.”

Another academician, Sheikh Showkat, said that it would now have to be seen if such a statement was made out of any “genuine concern for the resolution” of the Kashmir dispute.

Referring to previous statements by the US previously, Showkat said, “We have seen such statements in the past when Clinton came to India and Pakistan. At that time, the US needed Pakistan’s support in Afghanistan. They made Vajpayee make certain offers to Pakistan and portray as if India was ready to resolve the Kashmir dispute. But subsequently nothing tangible happened.”

Such developments have yielded no results till now, though this time, the situation was different, he said. “At that juncture, Pakistan was under pressure. They were told (by the US), either be with us or against us. At this juncture, it is reverse. Americans have been defeated in Afghanistan. They want a safe passage from the messy situation,” the academician said, adding that there were few options left with the US and its only hope was Pakistan.

There were many others who believed that Pakistan was in a better position this time and that might help it in bargaining on Kashmir, though some were sceptical as well. “This should be seen from a larger geopolitical scenario,” said Tahir Firaz, a scholar.

“The US wants to warm up its relations with Pakistan. Trump knows how to make Pakistan happy so that its interests are fulfilled,” he said, adding that it was all about the normalisation of ties between Pakistan and America.

“The US is trying to win over Pakistan so that it can fulfil its objectives in Afghanistan. We can join the dots and see the larger pattern… Also, the US thinks that isolating Pakistan would mean the latter would get closer to Russia. This might lead to the US losing its grip in south Asia,” Firaz said.

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| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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