‘Reduce tension over Kashmir bilaterally’, Donald Trump tells Imran Khan
US president Donald Trump had made the Kashmir mediation offer during Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s White House visit in July.Updated: Aug 17, 2019 09:20 IST
US President Donald Trump on Friday finally put to rest a controversy he had kicked up by telling Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in a phone call that Pakistan and India should reduce tensions over Jammu and Kashmir “through bilateral dialogue”. There was no reference to his earlier offer to mediate.
President Trump had made the mediation offer during Khan’s White House visit in July with a claim that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to, which was swiftly and summarily denied by New Delhi, and reiterated that the Kashmir issue can only be resolved bilaterally, and only after Pakistan stopped supporting terrorism. Trump repeated the offer in response to a question from reporters a few days later.
Both the White House and the state department had sought to walk back that offer, but ever so delicately so as to not appear to be contradicting or reversing the president so that there was no change in the US position, and that the Kashmir issue must be resolved through “direct dialogue” between India and Pakistan, and that the United States stood ready to assist.
Trump has reversed his stand now.
“The President conveyed the importance of India and Pakistan reducing tensions through bilateral dialogue regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley said in a statement on the phone call.
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The two leaders also discussed “how they will continue to build on the growing relationship between the United States and Pakistan and the momentum created during their recent meeting at the White House”, he added.
There was no reference to the mediation offer in the readout, and it could not be immediately ascertained if the Pakistani leader had brought it up or not, because Khan has, in fact, sought to build on Trump’s earlier offer and has publicly called upon him to proceed on his suggestion.
Details of Khan’s conversation with Trump were first made public by Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who said, according to the state-run Radio Pakistan, “Prime Minister Khan conveyed Pakistan’s concern on recent developments in Kashmir and the threat they pose to the regional peace.” Qureshi went on to say Khan had also called leaders of other UNSC permanent member countries.
The effort was clearly aimed at pushing Pakistan’s request to the UN and the UNSC, in letters from Qureshi, to call for an open and formal meeting of the Security Council to discuss Pakistan’s grievances on Kashmir developments. Pakistan had also sought to be allowed to address the body.
Backed only by China, Pakistan got only closed-door informal consultations, which are not recorded and reported. And are not aired live. It also did not get a chance to address the members.
Neither Indian nor Pakistani officials were present at the consultations.
Khan’s call with Trump took place just hours before, and clearly help in advancing Pakistan’s cause. Islamabad will have to settle for just “consultations”, not a “meeting”.
First Published: Aug 17, 2019 08:02 IST