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.

HIGHLIGHTS

• 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.


Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

Updated 12 min 49 sec ago

Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

  • The chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons, particularly slowness in entering data on to the server, for missing the timetable
  • She said the results would be announced “as soon as possible,” while earlier in the day two IEC members said privately that the delay would take up to a week

KABUL: Afghanistan’s election commission conceded its failure to release initial presidential poll results set for Saturday and gave no new deadline for the vote which was marred by Taliban attacks and irregularities.
The presidential poll on Sept. 28 saw the lowest turnout of any elections in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ousting.
Hawa Alam Nuristani, the chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons, particularly slowness in entering data on to the server, for missing the timetable.
“Regrettably, the commission due to technical issues and for the sake of transparency could not announce the presidential election initial poll results,” she said in a brief announcement.
Without naming any camp, Nuristani also said: “A number of observers of election sides (camps) illegally are disrupting the process of elections.” She did not elaborate.
Nuristani said the results would be announced “as soon as possible,” while earlier in the day two IEC members said privately that the delay would take up to a week.
The delay is another blow for the vote that has been twice delayed to due to the government’s mismanagement and meetings between the US and the Taliban, which eventually collapsed last month after President Donald Trump declared the talks “dead.”
It further adds to political instability in Afghanistan, which has seen decades of conflict and foreign intervention and faced ethnic divides in recent years.
Both front-runners, President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, have said that they expect to win.
The pair have been sharing power in Afghanistan as part of a US-brokered deal following the fraudulent polls of 2014.
The IEC has invalidated more than 500,000 votes because they were not conducted through biometric devices, bought for the vote from overseas to minimize the level of cheating in last month’s polls.
Officials of the commission said that nearly 1.8 million votes were considered clean and it was not clear what sort of impact the turnout would have on the legitimacy of the polls and the future government, whose main task will be to resume stalled peace talks with the Taliban.
They said that the slowness of data entry on to the server was one of the technical reasons for the delay in releasing initial poll results.
Yousuf Rashid, a senior official from an election watchdog group, described the delay as a “weakness of mismanagement,” while several lawmakers chided IEC for poor performance.
Abdul Satar Saadat, a former senior leader of an electoral body, told Arab News: “The delay showed IEC’s focus was on transparency” and that should be regarded as a sign that it took the issue of discarding fraudulent votes seriously.