U.S. Says Indian Decisions On J&K Internal Matter; Rules Out Any Mediation
A senior American diplomat on Tuesday ruled out any mediation by the Trump Administration on the Kashmir issue, saying the recent decision taken by the Indian government on Jammu & Kashmir is an internal matter of India.
Noting that for Pakistan, Kashmir has always been an important issue, an emotional issue, the State Department diplomat asserted that this is an important time to demonstrate that Pakistan has in fact, determined for its own reasons and according to its own National Action Plan that there's no benefit in allowing proxy forces to operate from its soil, that it is to the detriment of its reputation, and detriment of its ability to attract investment that it needs to grow its economy.
India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke the special status of J&K was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.
"We recognise that it (Indian decision on Kashmir) is an internal matter. But it obviously has implications outside of India's borders. We have long called for direct conversations between India and Pakistan to resolve what have been the decades of tensions generated by that issue," the official said on condition of anonymity.
The official was responding to a question on U.S. position on India's decisions to scrap Articles 370 of the Indian Constitution and reorganise the state into two union territories—Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
The diplomat said that a series of telephonic calls made by President Donald Trump to Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Imran Khan is not mediation but an effort by him to encourage the two countries to resolve their differences bilaterally.
On Monday, Trump made back-to-back calls with Modi and Khan. This was preceded by another call between Trump and Khan last Friday. This is seen by many as mediation efforts by the U.S., to which India is opposed to.
"This is a time where we are encouraging both parties, both countries, to find a way to constructive engagement," the official said.
The direct involvement of President Trump underscores the level of interest in the U.S., "not in mediating per se, but in being the kind of friend that is encouraging its partners in the region to engage constructively," the official explained.
"If this is not mediation, what else is?" the official was asked.
"The president has offered to mediate if asked by both parties. He's not been asked by both parties to mediate. But the president's interest in helping to encourage stability in south Asia is not new," the official answered.
On Pakistan, the official said that allowing proxy forces to operate from its soil has never been a successful strategy in achieving what Islamabad's goals are for regional stability and peace and welfare of the Kashmir people.
The official said that in the near term, the U.S. approach to Kashmir is focused on the human rights situation and encouraging India to move quickly to release detainees, to restore basic freedoms, and to implement what the prime minister laid out in his own address of a return to political normalcy for J&K, whether first as a union territory, but then as a state and the restoration of political dialogue.
The U.S. looks to the Indian government to undertake those steps, the official added.
The diplomat said the U.S. in its conversations with officials of the two countries have also discussed the "inflamed rhetoric", which is "not conducive to constructive" dialogue.
The U.S. will continue to encourage the parties and are encouraging both countries to look to a way to get to a direct dialogue, said the American diplomat who has been engaged with both India and Pakistan on this issue.
Responding to a question, the official noted that India has said publicly that its concern is over ensuring that there's no violence or exploitation of the situation by terrorists.
"We are aware of India's concerns but continue to urge that they work as quickly as possible to restore normalcy in the region," the official said.
When asked about statement by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh that talks with Pakistan if any would be over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the official said that is "actually a very standard talking point by Indian official."
On Pakistan's decision to take the Kashmir issue to the International Court of Justice, the official did not favour such a move.
"It's Pakistan sovereign decision whether it wants to approach the International Court of Justice? Our view is that a resolution in Kashmir is not aided by multilateralising it. The answer is direct a conversation between India and Pakistan," the official said.
"Our position that this is an issue that should be taken up directly between the two countries is long standing," said the official.
"We have always emphasised this in the context of Pakistan taking decisive, irreversible, sustainable steps to halt support for terrorism. You know, and in that context, obviously we believe there can be a productive conversation and negotiations between the two countries”, the official said.