Trump’s ‘offer’

THOUGH Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue may come across as a sound idea, there’s very little reason to believe that the American president is keen to pursue it.

Read: Trump says ready to mediate on Kashmir if both Pakistan, India want

For one, Mr Trump is known for his mercurial character, saying one thing and then making a U-turn within days or even hours. Secondly, mediation can only work if New Delhi sheds its rigid stance that the burning issue of India-held Kashmir is an ‘internal’ problem.

The US president has already made several similar ‘offers’ of mediation; the latest of these came during his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in New York on Monday.

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“I will be ready to do it,” Mr Trump told reporters with Mr Khan by his side, apparently eager to play the role of conciliator.

Where global crises are concerned, Mr Trump’s propensity for making U-turns on American policy, indeed, his own actions, has become a regular feature of his tenure.

For example, Mr Trump is largely responsible for the current imbroglio in the Gulf, thanks to his withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal because of his intense dislike of all things related to his predecessor Barack Obama.

And just when the Afghan crisis seemed to be approaching a solution, the US leader called off a meeting with the Afghan Taliban at Camp David earlier this month, and torpedoed plans for further negotiations.

In the present case, just a day before his conversation with Mr Khan, he attended a rally in Texas, patiently listening as India’s prime minister fulminated against Pakistan to the raucous applause of the Indian diaspora. It appears that Mr Trump is in election mode and making efforts to secure the American-Indian vote, while attempting to appear ‘neutral’ by praising Pakistan and its leadership.

The fact is that while Pakistan should welcome mediation, it should not have any expectations on this front from Mr Trump.

While bilateral attempts to resolve the Kashmir issue have stalled, Pakistan should continue to engage with world capitals and inform them of India’s atrocities in the held valley. Indeed the UN General Assembly is an ideal forum to tell the world of the plight of Kashmiris who have been suffocating under Indian occupation for decades.

Due to its economic prowess and slick PR, India has deflected much of the criticism of its tactics in IHK. But that should not prevent Pakistan from continuing to plead Kashmir’s case in all forums, while urging states to censure India for its human rights abuses.

If Mr Trump is indeed ready to mediate, he must tell Mr Modi, in no uncertain terms, that Indian troops have made life in the occupied region a living hell where human rights continue to be violated with impunity. Otherwise, much like his other actions, the US leader’s words will appear as mere theatrics on the world stage.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2019