India won’t accept ‘any mediation on Kashmir’ - GulfToday

India won’t accept ‘any mediation on Kashmir’


Rajnath Singh. File

Amid uproar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh declared on Wednesday that there is “no question of accepting anybody’s mediation on the Kashmir issue” but Congress members walked out demanding a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s assertion that Modi did not ask US President Donald Trump to mediate on Kashmir should be taken as most authentic because he was present when the two leaders met in Japan.

Responding to the opposition’s insistence that the prime minister should speak, Singh maintained that “there was no talk on Kashmir.”

“It is true that talks between the US President and our prime minister took place but there was no talk on the Kashmir issue.

“I also want to clarify that there is no question of accepting anybody’s mediation on Kashmir issue,” he said, adding that this would violate the 1972 Shimla Agreement.

This was also a question of the nation’s pride, he said. “We can accept everything. We can compromise on anything but we cannot compromise at the cost of our nation’s pride.”

If there were to be talks with Pakistan, he said, these would cover the Pakistan administered Kashmir as well.

But Congress members walked out of the House.

Earlier, there was uproar for a second straight day over Trump’s claim that Modi had asked him to mediate on the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.

As soon as the Question Hour started, Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said: “It is an issue which is very much related to the prime minister himself.”

After Speaker Om Birla interrupted him, there was sloganeering by Congress MPs against the government and Modi.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said: “If our Foreign Minister has clarified the position, why is there a problem?”

In an attempt to end the din, Birla allowed Chowdhury to speak.

Chowdhury again said: “After Trump’s statement, everyone is discussing in the whole country about what the prime minister said on the issue. But the prime ,inister is not saying anything. We want to know what conversation took place between the prime minister and Trump.”

Amid the noise, the speaker continued the Question Hour. Opposition members then came near the speaker’s podium shouting “prime minister hai hai”.

On Tuesday, Jaishankar categorically rejected Trump’s statement and clarified in both Houses of Parliament that Modi made no such request to the US president.

Meanwhile, senior US administration official Larry Kudlow has made a perfunctory defence of President Donald Trump’s credibility, but would not go into the specifics of his claim about being asked to mediate on Kashmir.

Asked by a reporter on Tuesday about India’s denials of Trump’s stunner that Modi had asked him to be a “mediator or arbitrator” on Kashmir, Kudlow shot back, “That’s a very rude question in my opinion.”

Kudlow, who is the director of the National Economic Council asserted, “The president doesn’t make anything up.”

But beyond that, he would not get into the specifics of whether Modi had indeed asked for Trump’s intervention and if he was telling the truth about it.

He said, “I am going to stay out of that. It’s out of my lane. It’s for (Secretary of State) Mr (Mike) Pompeo, (National Security Adviser) Mr (John) Bolton and the President. So I am not going to comment on that.”

The Trump administration official in charge of South Asia, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Alice Wells, has herself walked back on the president’s statement, reaffirming it was a bilateral matter.

She tweeted, “While Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss, the Trump administration welcomes Pakistan and India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist.”

Trump is known for playing loose with facts and making things up on the go to dramatise matters.

A whole fact-checking industry has risen around his almost daily flow of verbiage of dubious veracity.

Indo-Asian News Service

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