By Birendra P Mishra, Kathmandu, 20 August 2019 . The visit of Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan to the US was obviously meaningful in two respects, as each needed help from the other. Presently, Pakistan is in urgent need of financial support from the US and in turn, the US seeks Pakistan’s whole-hearted cooperation from Pakistan in its dialogue with the Taliban to extricate its armed personnel from Afghanistan before he announces his candidacy for the second term of presidency. PM Khan was there not alone. He was with the Chiefs of the Army and the ISI to convince the US that the commitments made by him will be executed to suit the US interest. It is well known that the army has ruled Pakistan most of the times after its formation in 1947 and continues to be the most influencing factor in Pakistan.
A few days it appeared for a few hours that the political dynamics of South Asia will change drastically as there sprang some hope of settlement of Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan with the mediation by US President Donald Trump when he announced that India had requested him for his mediation. Sadly, It disappeared like a dream, which vanishes as soon as the dreamer gets up when Indian Foreign Affairs Ministry denied it. It can now be presumed that the US President was informed of India’s future course of action in this regard, which the president indirectly told the visiting PM Imran Khan. Previously it appeared that either the president has breached the trust bestowed upon him by the Indian PM Modi or PM Modi unconsciously revealed his mind to him.
It refers to the meeting between the US president Donald Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan that held on 22 July. While talking to press reporters in the White House before the meeting began, he asserted that during his meeting with Modi in Osaka (where they had been to attend the G20 Summit two weeks ago) “ We talked about the subject, he actually said ‘Would you like to mediate or arbitrate?’ I said, ‘Where?’ and he said ‘Kashmir’.”
After Indian foreign minister refuted that no such request was made by PM Modi, the president again raked up the issue saying the following `day that if PM Modi and Pakistan PM Imran Khan want “ some one to intervene in the decades-old dispute, he was ready to assist them.” . While referring to his last week’s meeting with PM Khan, wherein he offered to help to resolve the Kashmir issue, he said, “If I can, if they wanted me to, I would certainly intervene.” On India’s rejection, he said, “It is really up to Prime Minister Modi (to accept the offer of mediation). He said further “ I think they are fantastic people-Khan and Modi-I mean, I would imagine they could get along very well, but if they wanted somebody to intervene, to help…and I spoke with Pakistan about that and I spoke frankly in (sic) India about it.”
It is, therefore, believed that the president made this assertion to please the Pakistani dignitaries in order to seek their full cooperation. Similarly, India, which is fade up with Pakistan’s continued cross-border terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of India forcing it to take military strikes inside Pakistani controlled Kashmir territory and other unpopular decisions in Kashmir; might have made PM Modi to seek president Trump’s involvement in convincing Pakistan on this score.
Suddenly, the step of India of robbing of the special status of its state of Jammu and Kashmir (J& K) on August 5, 2019 by abrogating Articles 35A and 370 of its constitution, which had permitted special autonomous status to J&K and forbade Indians from other states to settle permanently in J&K, buy land and hold local government jobs, etc. there. The status was given in 1954 by a presidential order to make Muslim majority state of J&K feel secured. The revoking of Articles has created a storm in the India –Pakistan relations which were already at the low ebb in recent years.
Interestingly, the assertion of president Trump was repeatedly denied by the External Affairs Ministry of India but not a word came out from the Prime Minister despite the demands of the opposition party in Indian Parliament. However, the foreign minister replied on behalf of the PM. It seemed that PM Modi was in a difficult position to confirm or deny the presidential assertion. Had he denied president’s assertion, it meant that the President lied before the reporters denigrating his personality and if he had accepted it, it would have gone against the constant Indian stand of not accepting any mediation with Pakistan on Kashmir dispute as per the terms of the Simla Agreement signed in 1972 after thousands of Pakistani army had surrendered before Indian army in Bangladesh in 1971.
It is to be safely believed that PM Modi had already sounded the President about his forthcoming action of abrogating Article 370 of the Indian constitution, as it was difficult for him to control the cross-border terrorism as long as J&K enjoys full statehood under the Indian constitution. Moreover, he was under compulsion to act as per his commitment made to the majority Hindu voters of the country who elected him with a greater majority.
Since the US accepts it as a bilateral issue, it becomes a challenge for the US to get Pakistan’s support in getting US troops out of Afghanistan as per its demand and the continued tension between India and Pakistan will keep the regional forum like SAARC paralyzed, which Nepal chairs currently.