Trump backs out of mediating Kashmir crisis

Indian PM Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump shake hands during a meeting in Biarritz, France on Monday on the third day of the annual G7 Summit. (AFP)
Updated 27 August 2019

Trump backs out of mediating Kashmir crisis

  • US president says India, Pakistan can resolve situation ‘mutually’

NEW DELHI: US President Donald Trump said on Monday he would not mediate in the Kashmir crisis, despite having offered to do so several times in the past, saying India and Pakistan could sort it out “mutually.”

India and Pakistan both lay claim to Kashmir, which they administer in part, and the territory lies at the heart of decades of hostility between them. 

The most recent flashpoint occurred earlier this month, when India revoked the special status of its portion and brought it under direct rule.

But, ahead of a meeting between Trump and Indian Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the G7 Summit being held in France, the US leader seemed more nonchalant about the Kashmir standoff, which he had previously described as “explosive.”

“The US is good friends with both India and Pakistan. I think India and Pakistan can discuss among themselves and sort it (Kashmir) out mutually,” said Trump on Monday.

Modi said that all issues between the neighbors were bilateral and that India did not want to “give any pain” to a third country.


• US President Donald Trump had offered to mediate in the crisis several times in the past.

• India says all issues between the two countries are bilateral and there is no need for any third-party mediation.

• India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken a different tack and lobbied for foreign assistance, saying Modi had made the “biggest mistake” by annexing Kashmir, and even likened the Indian leader’s ideology to Nazism.

Harsh V. Pant, from the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation think tank, said Trump’s push on Kashmir was understandable because he needed Pakistan’s help in “normalizing Afghanistan.”

“With Trump the Kashmir issue is very transactional,” Pant told Arab News. 

“He is inserting himself in Kashmir because he wants Pakistan on board for his Afghanistan endgame. By abrogating Article 370 India made a major policy change that has not taken place in the last 70 years. International players asking questions on that decision is a normal thing, not an internationalization of the issue. Internationalization would have been when the UN comes out with a formal statement or Trump says that the situation is getting out of hand and Washington wants to do this or that.”

Amnesty International said life had been “derailed” for people in Jammu and Kashmir. 

“Depriving an entire population of their right to freedom of expression, opinion and movement for an indefinite period runs squarely counter to international norms and standards. Worse, it gives the government of India a near-total control over the information coming out of the region,” said Aakar Patel, head of Amnesty International India.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir.

US bombings in Afghanistan hit record high despite peace talks

Updated 8 min 35 sec ago

US bombings in Afghanistan hit record high despite peace talks

  • Slammed: Civilian casualties from 7,423 bombs dropped by US jets in 2019

KABUL: American warplanes dropped a record 7,423 bombs in Afghanistan last year, data released by the US Central Command has revealed.

The drastic rise in bombing raids, which rights groups say have caused “appalling” civilian casualties, came despite Washington’s continued secret talks with the Taliban to try and resolve the country’s decades-old conflict.

Explosive devices were used during 8,773 sorties, some involving drones, and were greater in number than the 4,147 bombs dropped during the peak of the war in 2009 when former US President Barack Obama had more than 100,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan.

The UN and several rights groups have repeatedly expressed concerns over the increase in air strikes across the country, both by US and Afghan forces, that have resulted in a rise in civilian casualties. They said far more noncombatants were killed in such raids than in Taliban attacks.

In the latest incident on Sunday, at least seven civilians, including three children, were killed in government air raids in the northern Balkh province, triggering protests by residents in the area.

“There’s far too little scrutiny by US military officials of the appalling cost of this massive increase in bombing — a cost borne increasingly by civilians who have been maimed and killed, many of them children,” Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told Arab News.

Security analyst and retired Afghan Gen. Attiqullah Amarkhail told Arab News that bombing raids by either side would only “cause more anger among the already frustrated population and further loss of trust of people in the government and foreign troops.”

The surge in US airstrikes came as the US and Taliban representatives were in the process of conducting sustained peace talks in Doha, Qatar.

In September last year, US President Donald Trump abruptly called off the negotiations after a Taliban suicide attack in Kabul, which killed an American soldier.

He said it happened at a point when Taliban leaders were on the verge of visiting Camp David to sign an agreement, a claim denied by the Taliban.

After making his first visit to Afghanistan in November, Trump ordered a restart of the talks which began some weeks ago. However, both the Taliban and US-led NATO forces have since stepped up their attacks, although the Taliban have drastically reduced the number of their attacks in major cities.

US officials have been pushing the Taliban to scale down the violence, but the group claimed responsibility for downing a US military aircraft on Monday in an area under its control in central Ghazni province.

After recovering the remains of two personnel from the site, following a day of delay because of Taliban ambushes and landmines installed by the militants, the US military said that “there are no indications that the crash was caused by enemy fire.”

It said an investigation was underway, adding that the wreckage of the aircraft had been destroyed.