New Delhi, July 23 : US President Donald Trump might have done an unthinkable act to assert that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited him to 'meditate' on the Kashmir issue, but given the history of third party facilitation and diplomacy between India and Pakistan, such has been a consistent American policy.
The important issue is the timing and there is a school of thought-and well informed ones--both in the US and in India - which believe perhaps POTUS had done a faux pas. One US Congressman said he 'apologised' to India's ambassador to the US.
From the government of India and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's perspective - it will be "never wise" to formally agree to any third party role in Kashmir because this will immediately lead to Pakistan proclaiming victory for its long held position.
"The Modi government takes pride in its machismo vis-a-vis Pakistan. Mr Modi avoided flying over Pakistani airspace despite the offers. Thus, apart from political compulsions, New Delhi does not see enough international reasons or diplomatic pressure to kick start the dialogue with Pakistan and that too with a third party around. If (Pakistan Premier) Imran Khan thinks these tactics will work, he is in for a major setback," a key source in the know of things said.
Point blank Lie
A Lahore-based educationist, Ishtiaq Ahmed, too, was caustic as he said, "President Trump can lie point blank.....I have always felt that Donald Trump is an embarrassment for those who believe that democracy is the best system to establish a government based on the consent of the people. After the Shimla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Accord of 1999, there is absolutely no scope for third-party mediation. That dispute has to be resolved bilaterally.
“At no point is it a helpful thing to suggest that the United States can mediate between India and Pakistan,” Alyssa Ayres, a former US diplomat, has been quoted in a western magazine 'Foreign Policy'.
She averred: “One country always asks for mediation—Pakistan—and the other country (India) avowedly rejects it"-in reference to the Kashmir imbroglio.
South Block riposte
In identical statements in both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar countered Mr Trump and said, "....no such request was made by the Prime Minister to the US President". Dr Jaishankar also made it clear that, "India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally.
"... let me conclude by emphasising that the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally. I hope in the view of my very specific and categorical responses that there is no confusion in the mind of anybody on this matter," he said as Opposition parties attempted to embarrass the Government and were insistent on a clarification by the Prime Minister himself.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Madhav tweeted: "POTUS statement on Kashmir underscores the biggest problem in the US system today" and asserted that such remarks only show there is something "fundamentally wrong" in the White House.
Down the ages
The Modi government, too, did not kowtowing to pressure tactics from Indian National Congress and other opposition parties.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said "everyone knows who took the Kashmir issue to the United Nations"-an allusion to first Premier Pt Jawaharlal Nehru.
Key stakeholders in Washington attempted damage control after Mr Trump's remarks.
Acting Assistant Secretary Alice Wells with the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, tweeted: "While Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss, the Trump administration welcomes Pakistan and India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist.'
Brad Sherman, Congressman representing California's San Fernando Valley, tweeted : "I apologised to Indian Ambassador Harsh Shringla for Mr Trump’s amateurish and embarrassing mistake.'