Donald Trump has to rethink on India-Pakistan equation: Top diplomat rules out US role as 'mediator'

US president Donald Trump in his new South Asia strategy has ruled out playing the role of a mediator between India and Pakistan. A top American diplomat however, said that the focus of the new strategy would be reducing tensions between the two neighbours.

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

This comes just months after US officials said that Trump himself may get involved in a peace process between the two South Asian neighbours.

“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… And also wouldn't be surprised if the president participates as well,” US Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley had said in April.

Even during his campaign in 2016, Trump had offered to mediate between India-Pakistan only if the two nations wanted.

Before assuming office, he reportedly called then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and said, “I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems,” according to a transcript released by Sharif’s office.

Trump has only managed to complicate the India-Pakistan nexus even further by first calling out Islamabad for harbouring terrorists and asking India to play a greater role in Afghanistan and later thanking Pakistan for its cooperation.

While underlining his Afghanistan policy, Trump lambasted Pakistan for giving “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror.” He also said that the next pillar of US’ strategy is to change the approach and how to deal with Pakistan.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”

India rejoiced and welcomed the US stance when Trump said, “(A) critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India — the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the United States.”

He further asked New Delhi to help more in Kabul, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.

Trump has also said that India has a strong friend in the White House. "During my campaign, I pledged that if elected, India would have a true friend in the White House. And that is now exactly what you have — a true friend," The Sunday Guardian quoted the president as saying.

Whether or not Trump has another rethink on getting involved in the India-Pakistan equation remains to be seen.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Nov 10, 2017 13:27 PM

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