The Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan raked up the Kashmir conflict on his maiden trip to the US. In a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Khan said the US could play the most important role in resolving the Kashmir conflict. He said he hoped that the US President would be able to bring the two countries together. Trump went onto say that he would love to be a mediator and that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to do the same two weeks ago.
“So I was with Prime Minister Narendra Modi two weeks ago and we talked about this subject. And he actually said, would you actually like to be a mediator or arbitrator? Did I say, where? He said Kashmir because this has been going on for many, many years. I was surprised at how long it has been going on,” Trump said.
And this created ruckus in the Indian Parliament today with the opposition, led by Congress’s Manish Tewari asking PM Modi whether Trump’s statements were true. Tewari narrated that Trump had said “its a terrible situation in Kashmir, there is bomb wherever you go.” Trinamool’s Sougata Roy said the US President’s statement is a contradiction to India’s stand. “The Prime Minister has compromised with the national security,” he said and insisted on a statement from PM Modi.
However, the US State Department later issued a statement saying Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss. The statement said the Trump administration welcomes Pakistan and India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist. “We believe the foundation for any successful dialogue between India and Pakistan is based on Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible steps against militants and terrorists on its territory,” it said.
Furthermore, the US State Department said Washington will continue to support efforts that reduce tensions and create an environment conducive for dialogue.
Welcoming Trump’s gesture to mediate between India and Pakistan, the Pakistani PM said the Kashmir issue cannot be resolved bilaterally. In an interview with Fox News, Khan said acknowledged the time when General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were close to resolving the Kashmir issue. “But since then, we are poles apart and I feel that India should come on the table; US could play a big part. President Trump certainly can play a big part,” he said.
India has for years refused foreign help from other nations to resolve Kashmir, maintaining that it is a bilateral issue with Pakistan. Raveesh Kumar, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesman said talks can only be held with Pakistan only after it has stopped sponsoring what it sees as terrorism in Kashmir. “It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally,” Kumar wrote in a tweet. “Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism,” he said.
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Kashmir continues to be a contentious issue between India and Pakistan and there has been no fruitful dialogue to resolve the conflict once and for all.