Trump’s Kashmir mediation offer may have prompted India to annex occupied valley: report

WASHINGTON: An offer of mediation between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir dispute by US President Donald Trump may have prompted New Delhi’s illegal annexation of occupied Kashmir and revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, says a report prepared for the US Congress.

During Prime Minister Imran Khan’s July 2019 trip to Washington, the US president had offered to play mediator between the two South Asian nuclear rivals. The offer was met by an uproar in India’s parliament and New Delhi stating that the issue of Kashmir was an internal issue.

In August, following the Imran-Trump meeting, India’s government revoked the special status of occupied Kashmir and rushed through a presidential decree in a bid to fully integrate its only Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country, hours after imposing a major security clampdown in the region. The move was pushed by India’s ruling right-wing party, the BJP.

The report, prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), states that “President Trump’s seemingly warm reception of Pakistan’s leader, his desire that Pakistan help the United States ‘extricate itself’ from Afghanistan, and recent US support for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout of Pakistan combined to elicit disquiet among Indian analysts”.

“Trump’s Kashmir mediation claims were especially jarring for many Indian observers, some of whom began questioning the wisdom of Modi’s confidence in the United States as a partner. The episode may have contributed to India’s August moves,” added the CRS report.

President Trump’s offer of mediation may have “convinced Indian officials that a window of opportunity in Kashmir might soon close” and officials in New Delhi may have taken this opportunity to “deprive Pakistan of the ‘negotiating ploy’ of seeking US pressure on India as a price for Pakistan’s cooperation with Afghanistan”.

The CRS further dismisses the claim by the BJP-led government that the move was intended to bring the disputed territory on par with other Indian states economically.

“Notwithstanding Indian authorities’ claims that J&K’s special status hobbled its economic and social development, numerous indicators show that the former state was far from the poorest rankings in this regard.”

The report for Congress further analysed the state of affairs in India and stated that negative economic news and increasing criticism of the government also played a part as “Modi and his lieutenants were eager to play to the BJP’s Hindu nationalist base and shift the national conversation”. – Agencies �U g