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India-Pakistan peace process: US President Donald Trump may get involved, says US Representative to UN Nikki Haley

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Donald Trump. Wikimedia
United Nations, April 4, 2017: The US is concerned about the state of India-Pakistan relations and President Donald Trump himself may get involved in a peace process between the two South Asian antagonists, Nikki Haley, the US Permanent Representative to the UN said on Monday.

“This administration is concerned about the relationship between India and Pakistan and very much wants to see how we de-escalate any sort of conflict going forward,” Haley, who holds a cabinet rank in the Trump administration, said.

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“I would expect that the administration going to be in talks and try and find its place to be part of that (process).”

She added, “And also wouldn’t be surprised if the President participates as well.”

India has opposed external involvement in bilateral issues with Pakistan.

During his campaign in 2016, Trump had offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, but was careful to add that it was only if the two nations wanted him to.

In an interview to The Hindustan Times he said that he “would be honoured” to be a moderator. “I think if they wanted me to, I would love to be the mediator or arbitrator.”

Haley was answering a question from a reporter at her news conference on assuming the presidency of the Security Council for the month of April.

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The reporter pointed out that India does not want an interlocutor for talks with Pakistan, while Islamabad wanted the US or another country to facilitate talks between them and asked if the US would get the leaders of the two countries to talk.

With Secretary of State Rex Tillerson keeping a low public profile and generally avoiding the media, Haley is emerging as the public face of US diplomacy making her presence felt in the media aided by her cabinet status.

Her statement about India-Pakistan relations, therefore, assume importance and it is the first high-level Trump administration statement on India’s relations with Pakistan.

While it is not clear what steps the US could take, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet Trump in Washington in May when the two could discuss it.

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Former President Barack Obama also had said during his 2008 campaign that the US should mediate the Kashmir dispute. The offer met with strong opposition in India and he did not actively follow it up when he became President.

“We don’t think we should wait until something happens” Haley said. “We very much think we should be pro-active in what we are seeing, tensions rise and conflicts seem to bubble up and so want to see if we can be a part of that.”

“So, that will be something you will see, that is something that members of the National Security Council participate in,” she said. (IANS)

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After Effects of Articles 370: Pakistan Suspends Trade with India, Expels Indian High Commissioner

Pakistan downgrades ties with India as tensions rise over Kashmir

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In this handout picture released by Prime Minister Office (PMO) August 7, 2019, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) chairs a National Security Committee meeting in Islamabad. VOA

Pakistan says it is expelling India’s high commissioner to Islamabad, just hours after downgrading diplomatic and trade ties with New Delhi for stripping the disputed Kashmir region of its special status (Article 370), as bilateral relations continue to deteriorate.

The foreign ministry said in a brief announcement the Indian government has also been informed that Pakistan will not be sending its High Commissioner-designate to India.

Earlier, an official announcement said that an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee, which includes top Pakistani civilian and military leaders, had decided to lower diplomatic and trade ties with India among other steps in response to the “unilateral and illegal actions” by the Indian government.

It said without elaborating that Pakistan will review other bilateral arrangements with India and take the Kashmir matter to the United Nations, including the Security Council. “[The] Prime Minister directed armed forces to continue vigilance,” the announcement noted, citing the situation on the military line of control separating Pakistani and Indian portions of Kashmir.

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A Kashmiri municipal worker pushes a trash cart as Indian paramilitary soldiers patrol during curfew in Srinagar, India-controlled Kashmir, Aug. 6, 2019. VOA

New Delhi added a special provision to its constitution in 1949 giving autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, allowing the region to have its own constitution, a separate flag and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defense and communications. India’s Hindu nationalist-led government scrapped the constitutional provision Monday.

On Tuesday, the Indian parliament passed a bill giving its approval to the move, including splitting its part of the divided Himalayan state both New Delhi and Islamabad claim in its entirety. Hours later, the Pakistani parliament passed a resolution condemning India’s measures to alter the status of the divided region and demanding New Delhi lift its wide-ranging security lockdown imposed on Kashmir since Monday.

The Indian security action to prevent a possible backlash, particularly from insurgents fighting New Delhi’s rule in Kashmir, has plunged the region into a communications blackout and a virtual shutdown.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told the emergency joint session of the parliament on Tuesday that the Indian action to “annex” Kashmir would intensify the insurgency in the majority-Muslim Kashmir, and the ensuing tensions could trigger another war between India and Pakistan, both armed with nuclear weapons.

The Pakistani leader warned the conflict could eventually lead to an exchange of nuclear weapons, urging the international community to intervene and press India to reverse its controversial decisions and resolve the Kashmir dispute through negotiations.

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Islamabad rejects New Delhi’s allegations the Pakistani military is behind separatist groups in Kashmir. VOA

Islamabad rejects New Delhi’s allegations the Pakistani military is behind separatist groups in Kashmir. “The next time there is a major attack on Indian forces in Kashmir, the next India-Pakistan crisis will be upon us. And it could get ugly,” cautioned Michael Kugelman, a Washington-based expert on South Asia affairs.

In a significant clarification issued Wednesday, a senior U.S. State Department official rejected Indian media reports New Delhi had informed Washington ahead of its Kashmir-related moves.

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“Contrary to press reporting, the Indian government did not consult or inform the US Government before moving to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status,” tweeted Alice Wells, the principal deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of South and Central Asian affairs. Wells is currently in Islamabad for official talks with Pakistani leaders on bilateral matters.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said Monday, the administration was “closely” following developments in Kashmir.  “We are concerned about reports of detentions and urge respect for individual rights and discussion with those in affected communities, said Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. (VOA)