India Denies Asking Trump to Mediate in Dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir

Donald Trump Narendra Modi hug (Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty)
Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty

The Indian government denied U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim on Tuesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to mediate the territorial dispute over Kashmir between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, arguing that it is a bilateral issue no third party can help resolve.

Via Twitter on Tuesday, Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for India’s External Affairs Ministry wrote:

No such request has been made by PM [Modi] to US President. It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism.

In response to a request for assistance made by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan during a joint press conference at the White House Monday, Trump offered to help resolve the Kashmir issue between Islamabad and New Delhi.

Referring to the ongoing argument, Khan told reporters, “I feel that only the most powerful state, headed by President Trump, can bring the two countries together. From my point, I can tell you, we have tried our best.”

Trump asserted that PM Modi made similar a request when they met a few weeks ago — asking him to be a “mediator or arbitrator” over Kashmir, claim disputed by New Delhi after it ignited a political row in India.

On Monday, Trump offered Khan his assistance in solving the more than 70-year-old dispute that has led to Islamabad and New Delhi fighting two wars and a minor conflict since 1947.

India has long accused Pakistan of backing Islamic terrorists in Kashmir. Islamabad, echoing a recent United Nations report, accuses New Delhi of violently oppressing pro-Pakistan separatists who are fighting for independence or in favor of a merger with Pakistan.

Despite a 2003 ceasefire, Pakistan and India have repeatedly clashed along a border that separates their respective territory in Kashmir — the Line of Control (LOC) — and those incidents continue to this day.

On Monday, Trump said:

If I can help, I would love to be a mediator … it’s impossible to believe two incredible countries that are very, very smart, with very smart leadership, can’t solve a problem like that.  But if you want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that.

Khan told Trump that resolving the Kashmir issue would answer the “prayers of over a billion people.”

“It should be resolved,” the American commander-in-chief replied.

Trump acknowledged that Kashmir has been ravaged by violence and descended into chaos.

Al Jazeera reported in mid-December 2018 that in the Indian-administered portion of Kashmir alone, over 500 casualties had rendered 2018 the deadliest year in the region in nearly a decade.

This month, India Today reported that terrorists carried out 318 attacks against Indian forces in Kashmir, exceeding the 131 the previous year.

New Delhi refuted a recent report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that accused India and, to a lesser extent, Pakistan of abuses in Kashmir.

Pakistan, its ally China, and their mutual rival India all have competing claims to the Muslim-majority region. New Delhi-administered Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority territory.

Mostly backing its top ally Pakistan’s position, China has largely stayed in the shadows of the dispute that brought India and Pakistan close to a full-fledge war earlier this year.

Pakistan has ceded control of some of its Kashmir territories to China while India disputes Beijing’s claims to land within its side of the LOC.

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