By referring to the Kashmir situation during his telephonic conversation with United States President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to have fed into the Pakistani narrative on mediation. Given India’s consistent position opposing third-party mediation in resolving what are essentially bilateral issues, Modi should have avoided any mention about the political and diplomatic aftermath of his government’s landmark decision to end special status to Jammu & Kashmir. As is his wont, Trump set aside the diplomatic niceties and repeated his offer of mediation on Kashmir in utter disregard of the geopolitical realities concerning India and Pakistan. It would be a trip of fantasy if the maverick Republican leader assigns to himself the role of a world policeman out to solve the disputes between nations. Earlier too, he offered to mediate and had claimed that Modi sought his help in the matter. India had, however, swiftly rejected Trump’s claim. Even a hint of third-party mediation will send the Pakistani establishment in a fit of overdrive. This is reflected in Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s highly provocative and incendiary tweets over the last few days targeting Indians. The US President may have advised Pakistani leaders to tone down the rhetoric and de-escalate tensions but his repeated offer to play an adjudicator role in Kashmir would only embolden them further in inciting violence against India. Last week, Pakistan’s attempts to create a stir in the United Nations Security Council over Kashmir fell flat after most of the participating nations agreed that Kashmir is a bilateral matter.
It would be pointless for New Delhi to run to Trump with a litany of complaints against the neighbouring country. Moreover, any attempt to internationalise the Kashmir problem will strengthen the so-called non-state actors, and their handlers, instigating terrorist activities from the Pakistani soil. It is a settled matter in the global diplomatic circles that India would never accept any third-party mediation. However, it is in favour of resolving all bilateral issues with Pakistan in an environment free of terror and violence. Any engagement with Islamabad would require an end to cross-border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues bilaterally. Thus, the role of the international community, including the US, must be focused on reining in Pakistan which continues to be the single biggest threat to peace and stability in the region. The onus now lies on Pakistan to take sustained and irreversible steps against terrorism in order to revive the dialogue process. For India, the rules of engagement are settled: Kashmir doesn’t warrant the third-party intervention, it has to be resolved bilaterally. Kashmir has been and will remain an integral part of India.