Denied deal, Donald shows Kashmir trump card to Modi

By: Mahmood Sadiq      Published: 07:54 PM, 25 Feb, 2020
Denied deal, Donald shows Kashmir trump card to Modi
Denied deal, Donald shows Kashmir trump card to Modi

US President Donald Trump showed on Tuesday how detrimental he could be to anyone denying him what he wants, even if you go to any length of appeasement otherwise.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had worked relentlessly for months to put up a grand show in India for Trump, aiming at his own political benefit and his country’s economic advantage.

Except for the violent protests in Delhi that took some light off the show, things seemed to be going well for Modi until Trump was convinced that the “tough” Chai Wala won’t deliver the prime gift – a trade deal with a market of over one billion people.

Trump could be edgy any time but he’s a political terrorist when he’s offended. He has shown this many times before and he showed it again on the conclusion of his official two-day visit to India.

On the first day of his visit on Monday, Trump raised eyebrows of his Indian hosts when he mentioned Pakistan in a positive way – something he probably did to prod the opposite side before formally sitting on the table for the trade deal.

When the game behind the closed doors did not go according to his expectations, Trump pinched Modi at the point where it hurts the most.

At a joint press conference with the Indian Prime Minister that marked the conclusion of his visit, Trumped praised Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism – something India hates the most. He went on rubbing the salt into Indian wounds by telling his hosts how good Washington’s relations had grown with Islamabad under his watch.

And when an Indian journalist prodded him in an effort to make him say something bad about Pakistan by posing a question on alleged terrorism from Pakistani soil, Trump delivered a heavy blow. He not only told the Indians he had a very good personal relationship with Pakistani Prime Minister but also reiterated his mediation offer.

"India and Pakistan are working on their problem. My relationship with both PMs is strong. Anything I can do to mediate, I will."

He went on to say:

"We talked a lot about it at length today. No question it is a problem. They are working on it. I said I will do whatever I can do to help because my relationship with both gentlemen (PM Narendra Modi and PM Imran Khan) is so good. Anything I can do to mediate, I would do."

And then came the knockout. Trump made it clear that when he is talking about mediation, he is primarily talking about Kashmir.

"They (Pakistan) are working on Kashmir. Kashmir has been a thorn in lots of people's sight for a long time. There are two sides to every story. We discussed terrorism at length today."

By pointing out that “there are two sides to every story”, he made it clear to the Indians that he did not believe whatever shit they talk about Pakistan.

Trump had already offered his good offices for mediation on Kashmir for multiple times then what is special about this time?

Last year when he made this offer for the first time during Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to the US, Modi had denied his assertion that they had talked about it.

But this time Trump left no room for the Chai Wala to do any dodging by making the offer face to face, on the very soil of India itself.

When Indian journalists tried to convey to him that they had no interest in the offer by pointing out India’s previous rejections to it, Trump told them they can’t brush Kashmir under the carpet anymore.

"I didn't say anything about that (India’s rejection). Kashmir obviously is a big problem between India and Pakistan, they are going to work out their problem. They have been doing it for a long time."

Yes, Pakistan’s role in the Afghanistan peace deal that is expected to be sealed on Saturday in Doha is also an important factor for Trump’s pro-Pakistan statements. But the way he did it and the occasion he chose for it makes it crystal clear he primarily did so to humiliate Modi. And Trump is a master when it comes to humiliating people he’s unhappy with.

I can’t help feeling sorry for the poor Prime Minister, who has already licked the dust in Dehli polls recently – thanks to his Hindutva policies.

I hope Trump’s whipping India would make it mind its arrogance and help it understand that it must stop acting like a bully in the region and seek normalisation of relations with its immediate nuclear neighbour – the path of which essentially runs through Kashmir.