Indian Ambassador to the United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Monday said US President Donald Trump had made it clear that his offer to mediate in the Kashmir dispute was “not on the table anymore”. Shringla made the remarks in an interview to Fox News.
Last month, Trump told Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate in the dispute. New Delhi immediately denied the claim. Last week, India rescinded the special status granted to Jammu under Article 370 of Constitution, angering Pakistan.
“President Trump has made it very clear that this is not on the table anymore,” Shringla said. “That has been the United States’ longstanding policy. The United Nations secretary-general [Antonio Guterres] was also very clear, he says this issue will be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan.”
The Indian envoy said Imran Khan does not speak for Indian Muslims. “In India, we have 200 million Muslims,” he said. “They comprise 18% of our population. This is the second-largest population of Muslims in the world. Prime Minister Imran can’t speak for all Muslims in India. I think that’s not the case.” There was little desire among Indian Muslims “for ISIS [Islamic State] or al-Qaeda” because “we give a voice to all the people in our country irrespective of religion”, Shringla added.
Shringla said India was planning to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir to de-escalate tensions. “We will slowly open up the situation,” he added. “At some stage we will have elections. They’ll have their own chief minister. We will ensure that there is massive development assistance.”
Shringla said private sector investment in Kashmir would give the youth an opportunity to fulfill their aspirations.
In his address to the nation on August 8, Narendra Modi had said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir would slowly return to normal, and Assembly elections would be held soon.