On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan met with President Donald Trump to put his case in front of the US on the Kashmir issue. The meeting came a day after Trump attended Indian PM’s Narendra Modi’s 50,000 strong Howdy, Modi! Rally in Houston, Texas.
On Aug 5, the Indian government put through a presidential order that abrogated the special status of the region under its occupation, shocking the world by revoking Article 370 including the 35A which provided the framework for Kashmir’s relationship with India. While Modi’s move caught the world unguarded, Islamabad has put its diplomacy into hyperdrive to garner international support for its stance on the issue.
Sensing the potential for conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, Trump said he will “do whatever he can, because they are at very serious odds right now and hopefully that will get better.”
Pakistan and India have both claimed Kashmir, the former princely state in the Himalayan region, as their territory since 1947 when British divisions carved up the subcontinent into two separate nations. The region has been a cause of acrimony between the two countries as they have fought multiple wars over their claims. However, each country came to control different parts of the region after agreeing to a ceasefire.
Despite occupying the vast territories, without seeking consent from the indigenous population, both India and Pakistan have administered their respective parts with a varying degree. The revocation meant both territories, treated specially under Article 370, were to become Union Territories of India.
Trump said that he had discussed the Kashmir issue with the leaders of both India and Pakistan and offered to mediate on the issue given both parties agreed to it. Trump has repeatedly offered mediation between Islamabad and New Delhi but Modi’s government continues to treat Kashmir as an internal matter. Officials in New Delhi see US intervention in the Kashmir issue as an attack on India’s sovereignty.
The US, on the other hand, continues to balance its rhetoric for both sides as on the one hand, it pacifies Pakistan by offering mediation and on the other ignores the widespread human rights abuse being meted out against Kashmiris.
A recent fact-finding report, issued by a team of women activists has made disturbing allegations against the Indian Army accusing it of committing atrocities in the region. The report details an account of a young woman, whose father and son were taken into custody by army officials, for keeping a torch alight to study for her exams in hopes of her school opening in the near future. The mission shared another harrowing account of a mother, who fears to turn on the light to take her four-year-old to the toilet.
As India and Pakistan elbow each other out to secure US favor on their stance on Kashmir, people living in the valley are being stripped of their basic human rights, whereas the only leader in the world who can use his influence to intervene continues to play both sides.