US President Donald Trump has called on India and Pakistan to ‘come together’ and resolve their differences, reiterating his offer to personally mediate talks between the two countries over the disputed region of Kashmir if called upon to do so.
“I think I would be an extremely good arbitrator. I’ve done it before, believe it or not. And I’ve never failed as an arbitrator. I’ve been asked to arbitrate disputes – pretty big ones, from…friends, and I’ve done it in a good, successful fashion,” Trump said, speaking to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday.
“If I could be of help, let me know,” Trump added, saying India would need to first agree to such talks.
War on Terror Big Mistake
Earlier Monday, Khan offered a veiled criticism of US policy in the region, suggesting that joining the US-led war on terror in Afghanistan after 9/11 was one of the worst mistakes in Pakistan’s history, and saying it has cost the lives of some 70,000 Pakistanis and billions of dollars.
Speaking at a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) panel on US-Pakistan relations, Khan accused former US Defence Minister James Mattis of failing to understand “why Pakistan became radicalised” when the latter called Pakistan “the most dangerous” among the countries he dealt with during his time at the Pentagon.
“In the 1980s, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan, helped by the United States, organised the resistance to the Soviets. And the resistance was organised by Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence training these militants who were invited from all over the Muslim world to do jihad against the Soviet Union. And so we created these militant groups to fight the Soviets…Jihadis were heroes then. Come 1989, Soviets leave Afghanistan, the US packs up and leaves Afghanistan…and we were left with these groups,” Khan recalled.
“Then comes 9/11, and Pakistan again joins the US in the war on terror, and now we are required to go after these groups as terrorists. They were indoctrinated that fighting foreign occupation in jihad, but now when the US arrived in Afghanistan, it was supposed to be terrorism. So Pakistan took a real battering in this,” Khan said, suggesting his country should have remained neutral. “I think the Pakistani government should not have pledged what they could not deliver,” he said.
"Pakistan, by joining the US after 9/11, committed one of the biggest blunders" in its history, Khan said, adding that Islamabad "should not have pledged what they could not deliver."
Ahead of Monday’s meeting, Khan promised to try to convince Trump to resume talks with India on a range of issues, including Kashmir. The prime minister said he would like to see the UN play a role in mediating talks with India.
In his speech at the CFR, Khan urged India to lift its curfew in Kashmir, and reiterated his view that Delhi’s move to revoke the region’s special status (which Pakistan has called an ‘annexation’) was illegal under international law, with Kashmir classified as a disputed territory under multiple UN Security Council Resolutions.
During his time in office, Trump has moved away from Washington’s decades of security cooperation with Pakistan, and instead sought to increase military and economic cooperation with India. At Sunday’s “Howdy, Modi!” event, the US president voiced his support for India’s efforts to boost its “border security,” saying the US understands India’s vital need to ensure the security of its borders.