K- Word Returns

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US president Donald Trump has said he would “love to be a mediator” after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan requested him to intercede in the matter, saying Trump would have Pakistan’s prayers if he could help resolve the issue. Trump also claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked him to help in the matter. The Indian government was quick to deny that the PM had ever done so, even as the Trump’s remarks triggered a furore in the country and the opposition launched an attack on the PM with Congress terming it a “sacrilegious betrayal of the country’s interests”.

This is in a long time that the K-word has come up so conspicuously in a dialogue between United States and Pakistan. The US president has spoken about Kashmir in terms that will seen as favourable to Pakistan’s position on the state. And also, when the US talks about Kashmir, this lends the issue an international dimension that New Delhi has always worked against. India’s long-standing policy on Kashmir has been that it is a bilateral issue with Pakistan. Any third party mediation has thus  always  been stoutly discouraged. 

In 2008 too, the US president Barack Obama had specifically called for an active US intervention on Kashmir during his presidential campaign. Obama’s worldview on the region was substantially shaped by Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who was his advisor on South Asia during his first election campaign.  Riedel saw resolution of Kashmir as a panacea for the problems of the region and an anti-dote for the ongoing  war  in Afghanistan. He  always stressed that the resolution of India-Pakistan cold war was critical to stability in South Asia as it will isolate extremists and prevent a war in South Asia that could go nuclear.

The official US understanding, on the other hand, has been that an overt  role of the country can only complicate the Indo-Pak bilateral efforts to settle Kashmir. Besides, New Delhi has always forcefully rejected any third party intervention arguing that Kashmir could be best sorted out through negotiations with Islamabad. And which hasn’t happened for the past 70 years. 

So, there has been a thinking that by ignoring India, Pakistan relations and in turn Kashmir will once again prove detrimental to not only the prospect of peace in  Afghanistan but also in South Asia. A long term stability in Afghanistan is seen only possible when the world works for an integrated solution for the longstanding problems of the region, rather than just that of one country.

 


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