Monday, 30th October 2017

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Solve ‘tough’ situation: Trump to India, Pakistan

Nudge to ‘good friends’

  • Published 21.08.19, 2:24 AM
  • Updated 21.08.19, 2:24 AM
  • 2 mins read
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This was Trump’s first conversation with Narendra Modi and the second with Khan since India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and redrew its map. (AP Photo)

President Donald Trump on Monday night nudged India and Pakistan to resolve what he billed as a “tough” situation in a move perceived as an effort at “mediation” and also a bid to ensure that nothing upsets his Afghanistan apple cart.

While the White House had issued read-outs for Trump’s separate conversations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Imran Khan, the US President announced his assessment of the tele-cons with a tweet early on Tuesday morning as dawn broke on the subcontinent.

“Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding Trade, Strategic Partnerships and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations!,” Trump tweeted.

On Monday, after his conversation with Modi, Trump had spoken to Khan and conveyed the “need to reduce tensions and moderate rhetoric with India over the situation in Jammu & Kashmir”.

Earlier, according to the Indian read-out on Modi’s conversation with Trump, the Prime Minister had stated that “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace”.

President Donald Trump at the White House on June 7, 2019.
President Donald Trump at the White House on June 7, 2019. (AP)

That this had been communicated to Khan was evident from the White House statement on Trump’s tele-conversation with the Pakistani Premier.

Technically, this is not the first time the US has stepped in to advise both countries to de-escalate. But given Trump’s statements since July 23 — when he dropped the bombshell that Modi had asked him if he would like to mediate on Kashmir — the back-to-back conversations with the two Premiers had all the trappings of a mediatory role.

“Not to burst any bubbles, but this is what US presidents do and have often done when things heat up on the Kashmir front: They advise India and Pakistan to work things out. That said, given recent developments, this tweet makes for good optics for Islamabad,” tweeted Michael Kugelman, South Asia senior associate at the Wilson Center, a Washington-based research organisation.

This was Trump’s first conversation with Modi and the second with Khan since India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and redrew its map.

Trump is eager to have the Afghan peace deal in place by September 1, so that he can go into the next presidential run claiming to have delivered on his 2016 poll promise of withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan. The last thing he needs now is for Pakistan’s attention to be diverted from its western border.

Pakistan has helped bring the Afghan Taliban to the peace negotiations, facilitating several rounds of meetings between them and the US special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad.

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir came up later in the day during another telephonic conversation, this time between US secretary of defence Mark T. Esper and defence minister Rajnath Singh.

Singh iterated India’s stated position that issues relating to Article 370 were an internal matter. An official statement issued by New Delhi said the secretary of defence appreciated this contention and hoped for a resolution bilaterally.