India, Pakistan can handle Kashmir dispute on their own: Trump

Vastavam web: U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that India and Pakistan could handle their dispute over Kashmir on their own, but he was there should they need him. The U.S. president has previously offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, a mountainous region which has been the source of repeated confrontations between the two nuclear-armed neighbours ever since they gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Trump discussed the issue on the sidelines of a G7 summit in France with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who withdrew autonomy for the state of Jammu and Kashmir on Aug. 5. Trump infuriated the Indian government last month when he said Modi had asked him to mediate in the dispute, drawing an immediate denial from New Delhi.

Sitting alongside Trump, Modi said the issues over Kashmir were bilateral, between India and Pakistan. Modi’s abrupt decision this month to cancel the mainly Muslim region’s autonomous status triggered weeks of protests, mainly in the restive district of Soura, which has emerged as the centre of discontent. On Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said the United Nations had a responsibility to ensure that the people of Kashmir had the right to decide their own future through a referendum.

He called Modi’s intervention a “huge blunder” and said the risk of nuclear confrontation between the two countries meant the issue went beyond the immediate region. “The responsibility today lies on the international community,” he said in a special televised address on Kashmir, adding that Pakistan would “go to any length at every forum” to press the issue.

“We as a whole nation give this message to the 8 million Kashmiris that we are standing with them,” he said. Kashmir has been the starting point for two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since the two states were created out of British-ruled India following World War Two.