United States President Donald Trump’s stunning claim on Kashmir mediation reflects his total disregard for geopolitical realities and his maverick ways of handling foreign affairs. India has rightly rebuffed his claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate on Kashmir. At a meeting with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, the US president claimed that his help was sought by India and that he would love to be the mediator to resolve the Kashmir issue. This is amateurish, delusional and highly embarrassing. No wonder that a Democratic Congressman, Brad Sherman, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Asia and Pacific, has apologised for Trump’s preposterous statement. It is a settled position that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. The 1972 Simla agreement bears testimony to this. The same decision was ratified during the 1999 Lahore Declaration signed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif who reiterated the determination of both the countries to implementing the Simla Agreement in letter and spirit. And, the onus 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 intervention of a third party, it has to be discussed and resolved bilaterally. Kashmir has been and will remain an integral part of India.
All the internal problems regarding alienation, human rights, employment opportunities and autonomy must be addressed by the government of the day within the framework of the Constitution and spirit of democracy. There is absolutely no role for any outside forces. For too long, American diplomacy has been obsessed with a hyphenated approach towards India and Pakistan despite vast changes in the regional dynamics. This hyphenated approach, the hallmark of the US foreign policy in South Asia during the Cold War, has been a disaster all along. Though India has been a victim of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism for decades, the global community had started appreciating its concerns only after 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror. It is now widely recognised that Pakistan has become a global hub for terrorism with a majority of terror attacks across the world being linked to the country. India has steadfastly opposed any third party mediation and made its stand abundantly clear that it is in favour of resolving all bilateral issues with Pakistan in an environment free of terror and violence. 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. Moreover, any attempt to internationalise the Kashmir problem will embolden the so-called non-state actors instigating terrorist activities from the Pakistani soil.