Time to move on from Donald Trump offer controversy: India
India on Thursday said it was time to “move on” from the controversy over US President Donald Trump’s remarks about mediating in the Kashmir dispute, even as it reiterated its call for Pakistan to take irreversible action against terrorists operating from its soil.
New Delhi also sought full consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national on death row in Pakistan following his conviction of alleged involvement in espionage, in line with a recent judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and international conventions.
Trump triggered a storm by saying during a media interaction with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought his mediation in the Kashmir issue. New Delhi subsequently said no such request had been made, and the US clarified there was no change in its traditional position that the dispute should be settled bilaterally by India and Pakistan.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar made statements in both houses of Parliament on Wednesday that India hadn’t sought Trump’s intervention in the Kashmir issue, and the US state department clarified there was no change in Washington’s position, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told a news briefing.
“I think we should just leave it at that and move on,” Kumar said in response to a flurry of questions on Trump’s comments. Though there are issues between India and the US, the positive aspects of the relationship far outweighed them, he said.
“It is an extremely important relationship... We are very strong strategic partners and we have broad and deep convergences across a range of issues,” he said.
“I think we have to look at the relationship from a larger perspective... Whatever we have to say, we have done that. Now, the two sides are keen to work together to strengthen the very important partnership,” Kumar added.
With Modi set to meet Trump during a visit to the US in September, the Indian side appeared keen to set aside the controversy caused by the president’s remarks. People familiar with developments said even the US side had clarified, after consulting records of the last meeting between Modi and Trump on the margins of the G20 Summit in Osaka, that Kashmir hadn’t figured at all in their talks.
The people also pointed out that a joint statement wasn’t issued after the meeting between Trump and Khan, which they said was a reflection of the differences between the US and Pakistan.
However, Pakistan foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal sought to play up Trump’s comments on the Kashmir issue and contended during a news briefing in Islamabad that Pakistan-US ties had returned to normal after Khan’s visit to Washington.
Faisal expressed “surprise” at India’s reaction to Trump’s remarks and said: “Our approach is dialogue based, it is UN resolutions based and it will remain as such.”
Reacting to Khan’s remarks at an interaction at a Washington-based think tank on Tuesday that some 40,000 trained militants were based in Pakistan, the Indian side said this was a “glaring admission by the Pakistani leadership”.
Noting this wasn’t the first time Pakistan has “owned up to the presence of training camps and terrorists” on its soil, including those who are sent to India to perpetrate acts of terror, spokesperson Kumar said the world community too is aware of this.
“Since the Prime Minister has acknowledged that terrorists are being trained and sent to Kashmir to fight, it is time for them to take credible and irreversible action against terror camps which exist in areas which are under the control of Pakistan,” Kumar said.
“We feel that half-hearted steps to please the international community...won’t do.”
On the issue of consular access to Kulbhusan Jadhav, Kumar said this must be granted in line with the ICJ’s verdict. On July 17, the UN’s main court ruled Pakistan violated Jadhav’s rights to consular access and called for a review of the death sentence given to him by a military court.
“There has been a favourable judgment from the ICJ in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav. We expect that full consular access to Jadhav should be granted at the earliest in full compliance and conformity with the ICJ judgment and the Vienna Convention [on Consular Relations],” Kumar said.
“We are in touch with the Pakistani side in this regard through diplomatic channels and as and when there is an update, we will let you know,” he added.
In Islamabad, spokesman Faisal said Pakistan was working to grant consular access to Jadhav. “We said that consular access will be given and work has been started on that,” he said.