Trump as mediator

On 22/7/2019, Monday, Donald Trump met Imran Khan at White House. Journalists were present. Imran Khan raised the issue of Kashmir. Trump said “I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago. 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 don’t know for how long… And if I can help I would like to be a mediator.”
India for long has held that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and there is no place for third party mediation. Trump’s statement created a stir in India. Raveesh Kumar, Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted “We have seen @POTUS’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 PM@narendramodi to US President. It has been India’s position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally.”
In USA, Alice G. Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary in State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, tweeted “While Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss, the Trump administration welcomes #Pakistan and #India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist.”
On 23/7/2019 Opposition parties demanded Modi come to Parliament and make a statement. They refused to listen to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. Jaishankar made a statement in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha:
“Sir, yesterday evening after the House had adjourned we heard remarks by President Donald Trump in a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India and Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. I would like to categorically assure the House that no such request has been made by the Prime Minister to the US President. I repeat, no such request was made by the Prime Minister to the US President.

I would Sir, also reiterate that it has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally.

I would further underline that any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. Sir, let me conclude by emphasizing that the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally. I hope in the view of my very specific and categorical responses that there is no confusion in the mind of anybody on this matter.”

Terrorism in Kashmir is a problem. Parties in Kashmir welcomed Trump’s statement. Farooq Abdullah congratulated Modi for seeking intervention of Trump. PDP, PDF and Hurriyat welcomed Trump’s mediation.
In USA, a journalist asked, Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor as Director of National Economic Council Lawrence Alban Kudlow, if the claim that Modi asked Trump to mediate on Kashmir was false. Kudlow replied “The President does not make things up. That is a very rude question in my opinion. I am going to stay out of that. It is outside of my lane. It is for Mr. Bolton, Mr. Pompeo and the President, so I am not going to comment on that. President does not make things up.”
India does not want any mediation on Kashmir. Bilateral talks have stalled over the years. When there is hope for peace between India and Pakistan, a terrorist incident takes place. Talks stop. SAARC meeting which was to take place in Pakistan has not happened. When Trump speaks well about India he is truthful for Indian media. Otherwise liar.
India could have won Kashmir War in 1948. India had stopped 55 crore rupees payment to Pakistan. Governor General Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten wanted Pakistan to have Kashmir because of Muslim majority. He met Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi fasted that payment be made to Pakistan. Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai and other ministers agreed. War continued. Mountbatten persuaded Nehru to take Kashmir issue to UNO. That made Kashmir issue international.
India hoped UNO will ask Pakistan to quit Kashmir. Instead UNO ordered cease fire. In 1950 Owen Dixon submitted The Dixon Plan. It assigned Ladakh to India, Pak Occupied Kashmir and Northern Territories to Pakistan, split Jammu between India and Pakistan and wanted plebiscite in Kashmir Valley. India rejected plebiscite. UNO is now known as UN.
In 1965 and 1971 Wars India could have got back territory under Pakistan. In 1966 under pressure from Alexey Kosygin Lal Bahadur Shastri signed Tashkent Agreement and India gave up the territory it had conquered. In 1972 Indira Gandhi signed Simla Agreement and gave up gains of war. India released all Pakistani Prisoners of War. India did not get back its Prisoners of War in Pakistan. This agreement decided that issues between India and Pakistan are to be solved bilaterally. Many are baffled why Indira Gandhi agreed to such an agreement.

Congress in disarray

Rahul Gandhi announced his resignation as Congress President at CWC meeting on 25/5/2019. On 3/7/2019 he put his resignation in writing and made it public.
Many Congress members wanted Rahul Gandhi to withdraw his resignation. He did not agree. He did not want any member of Gandhi family to be President of Congress. That ruled out Priyanka Gandhi or return of Sonia Gandhi. He refused to nominate next Congress President.
Aslam Sher Khan had offered to become Congress President for two years. Rahul Gandhi did not accept it. It seems Congress does not want a Muslim President. So much for secularism. Congress Hindu leaders want to show they are one up on BJP. Kamal Nath applied National Security Act on Muslims accused of cow smuggling. In Rajasthan, sons of Pehlu Khan are charged.
When post of Congress President is vacant, seniormost general secretary of CWC becomes Interim President. Motilal Vora is seniormost general secretary. He has to call CWC meeting to elect President. He has not done that.
It is said that there is no agreement in CWC on who should be President. Some want senior leader, some want young person.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh wants a young leader with pan-India appeal and grassroots presence as Congress President. Karan Singh said “I am aghast to see the confusion and disorientation into which the party has fallen since Rahul Gandhi has resigned of May 25. Instead of honouring his bold decision a month was wasted pleading him to take back his resignation. I strongly urge the working committee to meet without delay, perhaps under the chairmanship of former PM Manmohan Singh and take necessary decisions.”
Many Congress leaders resigned to give a free hand to Rahul Gandhi to appoint the persons he wants.
No leadership at top meant every member doing what he or she wants. In Karnataka Congress-JD(s) Government is in trouble and some members resigned from both parties. In Goa 10 of 15 Congress MLAs quit and formed a separate group and joined BJP. In Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu is unhappy with portfolio change and did not take charge.
For long Congress has been Gandhi family property. Congress can survive without a Gandhi as President. However Congress members know any time a Gandhi family member wants to be President the incumbent has to vacate the post. That happened to Sitaram Kesri. Prolonged uncertainty at the top will damage Congress.

India strikes back

On 16/6/2019 28 products from USA came under tariffs or higher customs duty in India. This was in retaliation against American tariffs on Indian aluminium and steel since some months and ending Generalised System of Preferences on 5/6/2019.
For too long USA has dictated to India and India has meekly surrendered. Don’t buy oil from Iran. Don’t buy oil from Venezuela. Don’t buy missiles from Russia. Such commands keep coming from USA.
USA has friends and enemies. Against enemies it has sanctions. Against friends it has tariffs. It has trade wars going on with many countries. China is its main target.
For too long countries appeased USA like UK appeased Germany before World War II. Russia and China should have resisted US sanctions on North Korea through UN. They did not do it.
Donald Trump has mentioned Harley Davidson bikes many times. India had 100% tariff on them. India reduced them to 50%. Trump wants no tariff. Some say few Harley Davidson bikes are imported. Zero tariff will not make much difference. With zero tariff, import of Harley Davidson bikes may go up substantially.
USA views India as tariff king. USA’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had come to India in early May 2019 and had warned of consequences if India imposed retaliatory tariffs. If USA gets nasty, India should get nastier. USA will know India is a pushover. India can do without almonds, apples, walnuts and such things from USA. India can stop buying oil, arms, war planes from USA.
China views USA’s trade and tariff policy as naked economic terrorism. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested on 1/12/2018 in Vancouver, Canada for extradition to USA. China arrested two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. They face espionage charges. If Meng is extradited to USA, Canadians can be executed. USA does not want any country to do business with Huawei, accusing it of spying. It is USA that spies on other countries excluding UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Edward Snowden had exposed US spying.
India should be ready for all eventualities including arrests of its citizens in USA and other countries for extradition to USA.