US President Donald Trump did not expect ‘aggresive’ statements from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the laters Houston rally.
“I heard [a] very aggressive statement yesterday and I have to say I mean I was there [and] I didn’t know I was going to hear that statement… from India… from Modi,” said Trump while speaking to the media alongside Prime Minster Imran Khan.
Trump also seemed surprised that Modi’s statement was “very well received” within the room of some “59,000” people.
“But it was a very aggressive statement and I hope they’re [India and Pakistan] going to be able to come together and do something that’s smart and good for both.”
“There is always a solution,” he added.
When asked if he agreed with Modi terming Pakistan as the “hub of terrorism”, Trump shifted focus to Iran being a threat to world peace.
“I have heard Pakistan has made great progress in combatting terrorism under this [Imran] leader. There is no other solution. The only other way would lead to death, chaos, and poverty. And he [Imran] understands it.”
The US president also attempted to dodge questions regarding human rights violations in the occupied valley Kashmir. “Of course, I’d like to see everything workout. I want everything to be humane. I want everybody to be treated well,” he said finally in reply to a question.
At this point, PM Imran interjected that he intended to bring up the issue of Kashmir in private. “But it needs to be said that eight million people are under siege by 900,000 thousand Indian troops for the past 50 days. It is a humanitarian issue.”
The prime minister added he would have asked Trump to urge Modi to at least life the curfew. “I mean it’s a huge humanitarian crisis taking place,” Trump responded to the premier’s request by affirming that the matter will be discussed.
The prime minister also regretted that despite Trump’s offer to mediate, India had refused to talk to Pakistan. “I feel this is the beginning of a crisis – I feel this will get much bigger.”
He further pointed out that as the leader of the most powerful country in the world, Trump has a responsibility. “US has an impact on the United Nations Security Council. It has a voice – we look towards the US to put out flames in the world.”
PM Imran said he intended to discuss the peace process in Afghanistan among other issues in a private meeting with Trump. “Stability in Afghanistan means stability in Pakistan,” he stressed. “We want to talk about all three neighbours – Afghanistan, India, and Iran.”
“He lives in a very friendly neighbourhood,” quipped Trump. “As if there were already not enough challenges…” added PM Imran, hinting at New Delhi scrapping Occupied Kashmir’s autonomy.
On the Afghan peace process, Trump appreciated PM Imran for his assistance.
Negotiator in chief
Boasting about his mediating skills, Trump again offered to be the arbitrator for Indo-Pak talks. “I have a very good relationship with both PM Imran and Modi. At some point [if] they say we have some point we think can be ironed out, I think I would be an extremely good arbitrator.”
Looking at PM Imran, he said: “If I can be of help, let me know.”
“But you would have to also have the consent of the other side [India], he added.
“I don’t think you’ve ever had a [US] president who felt as positively about Pakistan as I do,” said Trump.
To stress the importance of US-Pak ties, Trump said many countries had requested to meet the US delegation along the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly 2019 (UNGA) but Pakistan was one of the countries he wanted to meet out of his respect for PM Imran. “It is an honour to meet him. He is a good man who happens to be a great athlete,” he said. “Not that it matters,” he quickly added. “But it is always nice.”
Trump reiterated his administration’s plans to quadruple the trade between Islamabad and Washington. “They make great products,” he said. He revealed being shocked to see a decrease in trade. “It could be many times the number,” he concluded.
Agreeing to a Pakistani journalist labelling US leadership under him to be ‘honest’, Trump said Pakistan was treated “very badly” by the past American governments. “In the past, you got a lot of dishonesty… people in my position have treated Pakistan very badly. I think I wouldn’t say Pakistan treated us too well either but maybe there was a reason for it.”
“I trust Pakistan,” he reiterated. In a jibe aimed at Barrack Obama’s leadership, he added: “But people before me didn’t. But they didn’t know what they were doing so it’s just one of those problems in life.”
“I trust this gentleman right here,” he said pointing at PM Imran. “I have a lot of Pakistanis friends living in New York. They are smart people and great, toughest negotiators.”