Trumping Kashmir conundrum
It was with remarkable promptness that India not only refuted US President Donald Trump's bombastic claim to offer mediation over Kashmir issue on the request of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he hosted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's maiden visit to the United States. It is explained that a conversation along these lines happened when Trump and Modi met in Osaka, Japan on the sidelines of the G20 Summit last month. The long-standing conflict over the majority-Muslim territory of Kashmir in secular India has come to define the bilateral ties between the two Asian neighbours. Often dubbed as a left-over of the Partition in 1947, the fate of the region of Kashmir, and subsequently the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir to some extent, hangs by a thread owing to the lack of an implemented decision regarding the status of the strategically located territory. Every major dispute in the region even today rakes up the unfinished history following the inception of Pakistan. It is pertinent to refresh the memory regarding the Simla Agreement of 1972 signed between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan. This accord pertains to not just the peace process in the region, but also aimed to reverse the impact of '71 war by withdrawal of troops and exchange of Prisoners of War. The Simla Agreement was indeed a very constructive step in the direction of repairing relations with Pakistan. Peace, friendship, and coordination between India and Pakistan were the motivation behind the 1972 accord. The principles of this accord were mutually agreed upon by both the states. Respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty; non-interference in each other's internal affairs, respect for each other's unity and political independence, sovereign equality, and abjuring hostile propaganda are some of the components of this Agreement. The most crucial principles of Simla Agreement, however, are to uphold the inviolability of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, between India and Pakistan (a key to durable peace), and a mutual commitment to peaceful resolution of all issues through direct bilateral approaches. This very fact nullifies the involvement of any third party in the dispute between India and Pakistan, especially one that concerns Kashmir. With respect to inviolability of the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, the frequent ceasefire violations are proof enough for the extent to which Pakistan regards the agreement. India, on the other hand, has consistently maintained a stately demeanor and has faithfully observed the Simla Agreement in the conduct of its relations with Pakistan. There is no doubt that Trump's casual offer to mediate the Kashmir dispute reveals a disastrous misunderstanding of the powerful nations. Indeed, if there is something that could mitigate the issue, it has to be India's political will to settle Kashmir on its own side.