Donald Trump and peace in South Asia

Donald Trump entered the 2016 presidential race as a Republican and defeated 16 other candidates in the primaries. Commentators described his political positions as populist, protectionist, and nationalist. He was elected in a surprise victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, although he lost the popular vote. He became the oldest first-term U.S. president, and the first one without prior military or government service. It’s no secret U.S. President Donald Trump can sometimes be nicer to his country’s perceived enemies than its friends. But Trump’s unorthodox negotiating style appears to be wearing thin in Kashmir. Trump’s advice that Pakistan and India must “work towards reducing tensions” in the wake of the abrupt cancellation of the special status and autonomy of India-held Kashmir shows just how grave the situation is between the two nuclear-armed states. A tough situation, but good conversations”, is how Mr Trump described the current state of affairs in this region through his tweets, after speaking by phone to the leaders of the two countries in the space of a few days. Many on this side of the border would have taken Mr Trump’s latest attempt to disentangle Pakistan and India as a rudimentary effort at freighting - not quite the mediation he offered over Kashmir during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the White House last month. It is intended to de-escalate present hostilities to avert a potential war in the region that would have long-term repercussions for the entire world. This is not for the first time that America has intervened to ward off possible military conflict in the region. But this time, Washington should play a more proactive role and make good on Mr Trump’s ‘offer’ to mediate on the Kashmir dispute for long-term peace.

A constructive American engagement with both sides focused on finding a solution to the Kashmir dispute is important to ensure lasting peace in South Asia for the sake of its people as well as for international security and order. There is no doubt that India, which has always been averse to any suggestion of mediation over the Kashmir dispute by a foreign power or even by the UN, will put up strong resistance to such efforts. Nonetheless, it is important to convince New Delhi to listen to the voice of reason once the international community, led by America, realizes that peace and an improved relationship between India and Pakistan is in the best interest of all those with stakes in this region.

The Kashmir conflict is a territorial conflict primarily between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region. The conflict started after the partition of India in 1947 as a dispute over the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and escalated into three wars between India and Pakistan and several other armed skirmishes. China has also been involved in the conflict in a third-party role. Both India and Pakistan claim the entirety of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. India controls approximately 55% of the land area of the region and 70% of its population, Pakistan controls approximately 30% of the land, while China controls the remaining 15%. India administers Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh, and the Siachen Glacier. Pakistan administers Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. China administers the mostly uninhabited Shaksgam Valley, and the Aksai Chin region.

Within this context, the regional bloc may not be able to play any meaningful role in the current crisis between India and Pakistan. Can SAARC envision itself as a provider of regional public goods in promoting peace and security? But the truth is that SAARC has no vital role in that. If this South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation cannot play vital role in this scenario then this organization should be dissolved. India has stopped trade with Pakistan so there is no concept of South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation here. The Islamic countries which are more than 57 are still silent on this issue. If not 57 but only 15 major countries like Saudi Arabia, Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Turkey and Others like that break connection with India, stop trade or ban their visas, this will hurt India a lot. But it is strange to notice that no other country has raised his voice against this brutal situation.

On the other side Donald Trump is still trying to play the positive role of this South Asian issue. With Reference to my recent visit in USA I came to know that people are happy to have president like Donald trump and his policies are for the welfare and the radiant future of United States of America. As America is a superior power Donald Trump should play his positive role immediately to stop both countries to from going to war.

The writer is a freelance columnist.

Washington should play a more proactive role and make good on Mr Trump’s ‘offer’ to mediate on the Kashmir dispute for long-term peace.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt