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.
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.