The Pakistan vs India conflict has been going on for decades and shows no signs of stopping. However, there is a glimmer of hope now as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan apparently wants to keep the violence from erupting into all-out nuclear war. He’s willing to give up Pakistan’s nuclear weapons—if India also gives up its nuclear weapons.
Pakistan willing to give up weapons to avoid nuclear war
Khan made the statement in an interview with Fox News. Bret Baier asked him whether Pakistan would give up its nuclear weapons if India did, and he said yes. He also called for New Delhi to enter negotiations with Islamabad in connection with the Pakistan vs India conflict.
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“… nuclear war is not an option,” He said. “And between Pakistan and India, the idea of nuclear war is actually self-destruction, because we have [a] two-and-a-half-thousand-mile border.”
Khan also said that the latest escalation in the Pakistan vs India conflict was simply not necessary. A new round of violence broke out between the two South Asian nations recently when an Indian plane was shot down in Pakistan in February. The disputed Kashmir region continues to be a major source of pain in the Pakistan vs India conflict, and Khan said he has requested that U.S. President Donald Trump act as mediator between them to finally bring the Kashmir dispute to a close.
Indian officials angered by Trump’s claim
Indian officials were outraged at the idea of Trump stepping in as mediator in the Pakistan vs India dispute. During his meeting with Khan, Trump actually said New Delhi had invited him to mediate the Kashmir dispute, but Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar refuted the remark in a statement on Twitter:
We have seen @POTUS‘s remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President. It has been India’s consistent position…1/2
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) July 22, 2019
According to The Guardian, the rebuttal came after heated discussions in the Indian parliament today. Opposition members of parliament left the meeting in protest and demanded a response from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Although Islamabad has long called for a third party to become involved in the Pakistan vs India conflict, New Delhi has repeatedly insisted that it will only enter negotiations on a bilateral basis. However, Kahn told Fox News in his interview following his meeting with Trump in Washington that “there will never be” an end to the Kashmir conflict on a bilateral basis. He then urged New Delhi again to come to the bargaining table, adding that the U.S. and Trump “can play a big part.” It was after these comments that Trump then claimed India had made a similar request, sparking an outrage in New Delhi.
Analysts told The Guardian they believe Trump misunderstood India’s call for him to put more pressure on Islamabad to crack down on extremism. Whatever the case, Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman apologized for the president’s remark in a tweet:
Everyone who knows anything about foreign policy in South Asia knows that #India consistently opposes third-party mediation re #Kashmir. Everyone knows PM Modi would never suggest such a thing. Trump’s statement is amateurish and delusional. And embarrassing. 1/2
— Rep. Brad Sherman (@BradSherman) July 22, 2019
Possible progress on Afghanistan
Although much of the talk between Trump and Khan during Khan’s first official visit to Washington centered on the Pakistan vs India conflict, Afghanistan was also a topic of conversation. According to CNBC, Trump appeared to be optimistic that Khan would be able to help bring an end to the conflict in Afghanistan.
Citing an unnamed Trump administration official, Reuters reports that their strategy calls for Pakistan to “pressure the Taliban into a permanent ceasefire and participation in inter-Afghan negotiations that would include the Afghan government.” Trump also wants to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and believes it will be important for Pakistan to cooperate in the efforts to win the war and keep the country from becoming a base for Islamic State and other terrorist groups.