Trump says willing to mediate on Kashmir

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US President Donald Trump reiterated his offer to mediate between Pakistan and India to resolve tensions, saying that the two countries had been working on Kashmir for a long time.

Speaking to media on Tuesday, the US president said that he had good relations with Prime Minister Imran Khan and once again, saying that he and Modi had “talked a lot about Pakistan”. “I have a very good relationship with Prime Minister Khan,” he said, stating that his relationship with “both gentlemen (Imran Khan and Modi) is very good”. He said that “there has been difficulty in Pakistan and we’re seeing what we can do about it”. “Anything I can do to mediate, and to help I would. They’re working on Kashmir. Kashmir has been a thorn in a lot of people’s sides for a long time and there are two sides to every story, but they have been working on that for a long time” he said.

The US president stated that “Modi will take care of it (terrorism),” saying that the Indian prime minister had the issue foremost on his mind. In response to a question, Trump said that he discussed the issue of religious freedom in India, saying that he got a very “powerful answer” from the Indian prime minister. “We talked about religious liberty for a long time, in front of a lot of people and I had a very, very powerful answer from him (Modi),” he said. When asked about India’s controversial citizenship law, Trump said he did not want to comment on it. “I want to leave that to India and hopefully they will make the right decision for the people,” he said. “You have been criticised for your policies against Muslims, so were you in a position to talk about the current Indian polices,” asked a reporter. At this, the US president replied: “I won the travel ban, and we use it where we think it is necessary, and not based on religion. We won it in the Supreme Court and we bar those people from traveling to our country who might hurt our citizens,” he said.

In response to a question, the US president said that the US was being charged a lot of tariff by the Indian government. He said that he knew that while the previous administration was not aware. “We’re being charged large amounts of tariffs. Can’t do that, you can’t do that,” he said. Trump said that he was in India to make a deal and it was going to happen. “They (Indian government) want to do that, they will do that. I did a deal with China when everybody said I could not do a deal with China,” he added. Trump said that the US was being charged a lot of tariff when its goods were sent to India and it was not the other way around. “When Harley Davidson sends its motorcycles to India it’s, they get charged a lot of tariff. When motorcycles from India are sent to the US it’s virtually no tariff, for the most part, there is absolutely no tariff,” he added. The US president said that “it’s unfair and we’re working it out”. He said that it was not a fair situation when American companies were paying a lot of tariff, saying that taxes were raised “not too long ago”. Trump said, “It has to be reciprocal, the United States wants that and India understands that,” he added. He said that the deficit between the US and India was $24 billion, which previously stood at $30 billion. “It’s still too high,” he said. Trump said that if the US and India did not make a trade deal, then they would do something else that would be satisfactory.

This is not the first time that the US president has offered to mediate between Pakistan and India. In July 2019, during PM Imran’s maiden press conversation with Trump, the US president offered to mediate between Pakistan and India on Kashmir. Prime Minister Imran Khan hailed the offer of Trump and said recognition of Pakistan’s efforts by the US president was the success of Pakistan’s narrative. Imran Khan asked the cabinet members during the meeting to project Pakistan’s changed image through social media.

Special Assistant to PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said said that while an environment of hugging was going on between Trump and Modi, the defeat of Indian narrative there was Pakistan’s huge diplomatic success. She said the prime minister directed all the cabinet members to project this Indian defeat, linked to Pakistan’s diplomatic victory, with complete ownership through social media. Imran Khan said that Modi failed to deliver a statement from Trump against Pakistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Trump’s comments on Pakistan were ‘extraordinary’ and one could not deny their importance. “Trump wants peace and stability in the region and has asked India to play a positive role in the area and extend a hand for promoting peace and stability in the region. This will be only possible if the Kashmir issue is solved,” said the foreign minister.

Meanwhile, in tweets, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan noted that Pakistan’s image at the international level was improving under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan and pointed out that Kashmir dispute was a reality and hoped that President Trump would surely raise this issue. She said it was an important development that the US president while on the Indian soil talked about friendship with Pakistan. She said the Indian narrative stood buried with the acknowledgment of Pakistan’s positive role against terrorism by the US president. “The statement of the US president speaks volumes about our efforts for peace. The Indian prime minister should also understand the power and message of amity instead of stoking the fire of hatred, bigotry, and war in the region,” she said.

Awan regretted the blatant use of violence against the anti-citizenship amendment protestors in India, saying that it was happening when the US president was on Indian visit. She said, “The world has seen as to which country is promoting belligerence, extremism, and prejudice.”