KARACHI : The media and Twitterati in India have bludgeoned United States President Donald Trump over his claims yesterday that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had requested him to act as a mediator on the Kashmir issue.
As soon as the news broke, the country’s media outlets branded President Trump “a liar” while dismissing the conversation that Trump claimed took place between the heads of state on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Japan as a fabrication.
When Indian lawmaker Shashi Tharoor was asked about the US president’s claim, he said: “Our stance is clear. We don’t want any third-party mediation. If we want to talk to them [Pakistan], we’ll do it ourselves.”
The former career diplomat added that New Delhi is against any other nation getting involved in the longstanding dispute, adding, “The Ministry of External Affairs statement has made our [government’s] stance abundantly clear”. “Trump doesn’t know what he’s saying,” he added.
Also, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar issued a vehement denial in the Indian Parliament. “It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally,” he said, amid jeering from MPs. “I would further underline that any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross-border terrorism.”
Upon this, opposition members walked out in protest, demanding a response from the Indian premier himself. The Congress party, the largest opposition force in parliament, was, however, adamant that PM Modi give a clarification on the floor of the House owing to the gravity of the issue.
While other Indian news outlets deemed Trump’s comments to be another addition to the long list of faux pas that the US president is prone to making. Moreover, talk show hosts lambasted the opposition for over-reacting despite the government making its stance on the issue abundantly clear.
Twitterati also jumped on the bandwagon with #TrumpKashmirLie becoming the top Indian trend on the micro-blogging site. Social media users hit out at Trump deeming his comments as blatant lies.
What Trump said
While speaking to the media at the Oval Office where he hosted Prime Minister Imran Khan for the very first time, President Trump offered to help mend strained ties between Pakistan and India, the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
“I was with Modi two weeks ago and we talked about this subject and he actually said ‘Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator’, I said ‘Where’, He said ‘Kashmir’. Because this has been going on for many, many years… I think they would like to see it resolved and you [Imran Khan] would like to see it resolved. If I can help, I would love to be a mediator,” Trump said.
The “prayers of over a billion people will be with you if you can mediate and resolve the situation,” PM Imran responded. Hours after his remarks, India’s Ministry of External Affairs released a statement that Modi said had said no such thing.
“We have seen [Donald Trump’s] remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India and Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by Narendra Modi to US President,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
“It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally.”