As India awaits the visit of US President Donald J. Trump to India, there is speculation about whether or not he will raise the Kashmir issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If recent statements of President Trump are examined, post the abrogation of Article 370 and particularly post Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the United States, it can be said in no uncertain terms that there is a high probability of him stating that he wants to mediate between India and Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir and solve what seems to be one of the most complicated geopolitical problems ever. However, there is no reason to believe that such a statement will be symptomatic of any underlying trouble haunting India-US relations. Instead, any such probable statement should be seen more through the prism of Donald Trump’s personality than be taken as an actual change in US policy vis-a-vis India and Pakistan, and India-US relations. As this newspaper has been stating for a while now, the current US President is in search for his legacy and what better legacy than to be remembered as a peacemaker, who brought peace by solving the most complicated problems bothering the world? Even otherwise, he is a businessman and business thrives only when there is peace and not war. So it is no surprise that President Trump has taken it upon himself to sort out the Korean problem, although if his efforts have borne any fruit will have to be known soon enough for him to turn it into a talking point in the US Presidential election which will be held in ten months’ time. In the meanwhile, if a breakthrough can be made in India-Pakistan relations by bringing the two countries to the discussion table on Kashmir, it is huge optics for the US President in his re-election year. But in this case, President Trump may have bitten off more than he can chew. India-Pakistan relations are not in a shambles because of India’s refusal to talk Kashmir with Pakistan. They are in a shambles because of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism that continues to target India in the misguided belief that it will pose an existential threat to a world power such as this country. President Trump may need to attach himself to the coattails of Pakistan’s generals to extricate US forces from Afghanistan, but that does not take away from the bitter truth that Pakistan is the fountainhead of global terrorism, and its current Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has admitted as much by saying that at any given time 30,000-40,000 terrorists were roaming on his country’s soil. Unlike the US, India does not have any compulsion to talk to Pakistan’s Prime Minister, a puppet in the hands of that country’s generals. In fact, Kashmir is an internal matter for India and the changes made in its Constitutional status were done with the assent of both Houses of Parliament. So it needs to be made clear to President Trump that any solicitous overtures on the Kashmir issue by his Administration will not be taken kindly by India. In fact Indian public opinion will turn against him if President Trump makes any attempts to lecture India on “sorting out Kashmir” with Pakistan—which will be a pity, for this will directly have an impact on India-US relations that have a come a long way and have an even longer way to grow. As it is a lot of suspicion exists in India about the US, which in any given situation looks after its own interests and does not hesitate to throw even long-term allies under the bus. Moreover, when President Trump takes decisions such as authorising the resumption of International Military Education and Training for Pakistan, or calls Iran a bigger terror threat than Pakistan, he adds to that suspicion. And these are just two small examples. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been working overtime to improve India-US relations, and it is during his tenure that breakthroughs have been made in the areas of defence and security, with the signing of some of the foundational agreements. A trade deal is also in the offing. India is an important strategic partner for the US, which the latter recognises. The visit is expected to be a great show of bonhomie and goodwill between the two democracies. President Trump should not spoil the optics and the mood by offering to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*

*