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Imran by his side, Trump offers mediation on Kashmir

Press Trust of India

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New York: Describing himself as “an extremely good arbitrator”, US President Donald Trump said on Monday that he was ready to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue, but both sides have to agree on that.

Trump made the remarks during his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session here.

“If I can help, I will certainly help,” Trump said, describing the Kashmir issue as a “complex” one which has been going on for a long time.

 

“If both (Pakistan and India) want, I am ready to do it,” he said, a day after attending ‘Howdy, Modi’ rally in Houston, where he shared the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and displayed a close friendship and a common vision on fighting terrorism.

“At any point of time, I would be an extremely good arbitrator,” he said.

Trump praised the ‘Howdy, Modi’ mega rally in presence of Khan and said he has heard a “very aggressive statement” by Prime Minister Modi.

“It was very well received within the room,” Trump said, referring to the gathering of 50,000 people at the NRG stadium in Houston.

At the rally on Sunday, Modi hit out at Pakistan for its ‘support to militancy’ and said India’s decision to nullify Article 370 has caused trouble to those who cannot handle their country as he called for a “decisive battle against terrorism”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Khan, who has declared himself an ambassador of Kashmiris, on Sunday briefed US lawmakers, scholars, human rights activists and the media on the repercussions of India revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.

Trump and Imran last met in July at the White House. During their first one-on-one interaction, the US president had expressed his willingness to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue – an offer India rejected.

During Modi’s meeting with President Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France last month, the prime minister categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

“All the issues between India and Pakistan are of bilateral in nature, and we don’t want to trouble any third country. We can discuss and resolve these issues bilaterally,” Modi had said.

On his part, Trump had said he and Modi spoke about Kashmir “at great length” during the G7 Summit and he feels that both India and Pakistan can resolve it on their own.

His comments on Kashmir in the French city of Biarritz was seen as an apparent backtracking from his earlier comments, offering mediation.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

India’s action evoked strong reactions from Pakistan which downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian Ambassador.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”. New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.

India’s guarded reaction:Wait for bilateral meet

 New York: Asking journalists to “wait” for the meeting between Narendra Modi and Donald Trump, a senior Indian diplomat refused to comment on the US president renewing his offer to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and his description of the prime minister’s statement in Houston as “very aggressive”.

Describing himself as “an extremely good arbitrator”, Trump on Monday said he was ready to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue if both sides agree to it.

He also described as “very aggressive” the statement made by Prime Minister Modi during the ‘Howdy, Modi’ community event in Houston during which the Indian leader had made a veiled reference to Pakistan and its support for “terrorism”.

“There is a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump. So let us wait for the meeting,” Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs A Gitesh Sarma told a press briefing here on Monday in response to a question on the US president’s remarks on Modi’s statements and his offer again for mediation.

Trump made the remarks during his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session here.

India maintains that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral one and no third party has any role in it.

Responding to a similar query on Trump’s offer to mediate, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar referred to Sarma’s response that one should wait for Tuesday’s bilateral meeting.

“The Secretary’s response (to wait for the bilateral meeting) is after giving some thought. You know, you are aware about our position, we have mentioned about this in the past. But my request is just hold on. Just hold on for the meeting tomorrow. I think it’s not very far,” Kumar said.

In less than two days after the Howdy Modi event in Houston, Trump and Modi will meet again for bilateral talks Tuesday following Trump’s address to the UN General Debate.

On Monday, Trump praised the ‘Howdy, Modi’ mega rally in the presence of the Pakistani premier and said he has heard a “very aggressive statement” by Prime Minister Modi at the mega rally.

“I heard a very aggressive statement yesterday. I was there. I didn’t know I was going to hear that statement…but I was sitting there. And I heard a very aggressive statement yesterday, from India, from the prime minister,” Trump said.

However, at the same time, he said the statement was “very well received within the room”

“And I will say it was very well received within the room, the statement itself. That was a big room, 59,000 people. But it was a very aggressive statement. And I hope that they’re going to be able to come together, India and Pakistan, and do something that’s really smart and good for both. And I’m sure that…there’s always a solution. And I really believe there’s a solution to that,” Trump said.

During the ‘Howdy Modi’ community event on Sunday that was attended by over 50,000 members of the Indian diaspora and top US lawmakers, Modi, without naming Pakistan said that India’s decision to revoke Article 370 has troubled some people, who can’t handle their own country and who support terrorism.

“Where do you find conspirators of 9/11 and 26/11 terror attacks,” Modi had said, in an apparent reference to Pakistan. “It is time for a decisive battle against terrorism,” Modi had said.

In an unprecedented move, Trump had joined Modi for the community event and at the end of the programme, the two leaders took a lap around the stadium, waving to the cheering crowd.

On August 5, the Indian government revoked special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two union territories.

Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”. New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.

Trump and Imran last met in July at the White House. During their first one-on-one interaction, the US president had expressed his willingness to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue – an offer India rejected.

During Modi’s meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France last month, the prime minister categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

According to a readout of the Monday’s meeting between Trump and Khan issued by the White House, the two leaders discussed opportunities to deepen mutually beneficial energy cooperation and trade ties.

They also discussed ways to de-escalate tension between Pakistan and India, including combatting terrorism, and the importance of India-Pakistan dialogue to resolve disputes between them. (PTI)


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No power can stop KPs from returning to Kashmir: Rajnath

Press Trust of India

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Mangaluru, Jan 27: No power can now stop Kashmiri Pandits from going back to Kashmir, defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday, forcefully defending the NDA government’s decision to reorganize Jammu and Kashmir and abrogating its special status under Article 370.

In an address at a rally, the defence minister also sent a strong message to Pakistan and said India will not let anyone live in peace if it is harmed.

“We will not touch anyone, but if someone bothers us, then we are not going to let them live in peace,” he said.

 

Referring to the exodus of a large number of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the late 1990s at the height of militancy, Singh said no power now can stop them from returning to their homes.

On the Citizenship Amendment Act, the minister said it is not a law to hurt the sentiments of any religion but to give relief to victims of religious persecution.

“Mahatma Gandhi had told Nehru to give citizenship to minorities like Hindus and Sikhs if they come to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has fulfilled that vision by bringing in the law,” Singh said.

On several non-BJP states refusing to implement the CAA, the defence minister said it it is a central law and everyone should follow it.

Accusing the Congress of misleading people on the issue, he said the party should not forget its duty towards the nation just because it is in opposition.

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More snow, rains from today

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jan 27: The local meteorological department has predicted yet another spell of rains and snow in Kashmir from Tuesday, even as minimum temperatures settled above the freezing point on Monday, providing some relief to the people.

In a statement, the MeT department predicted widespread moderate rains and snow on Tuesday which will dwindle to scattered places by Wednesday.

“Generally cloudy sky to widespread light to moderate rain/snow from night of 27th January. Widespread moderate rain and snow for the next two days,” read the MeT statement.

 

On Monday, Srinagar recorded a minimum temperature of 0.6 degrees Celsius, up from the minus 0.2 degrees Celsius on Sunday, a MET official said.

He said the night temperature in the city was above the freezing point for the first time in recent days and it was 1.6 degrees above normal for this part of the season.

In Qazigund the gateway town to the valley in south Kashmir the minimum settled at a low of 0.8 degrees Celsius an increase of 1.5 degrees from the previous night’s minus 0.7 degrees Celsius.

The night temperature in Pahalgam tourist resort in south Kashmir settled at a low of minus 10.4 degrees Celsius down over seven degrees from the minus 3 degrees Celsius on Sunday and Pahalgam was the coldest recorded place in the Kashmir Valley, the official added.

The ski-resort of Gulmarg, in north Kashmir, registered a minimum of minus 10.2 degrees Celsius, the official added.

The night temperature in Kokernag in south settled at a low of minus 0.8 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara in north recorded a low of minus 4.4 degrees Celsius, the official said.

Leh in Ladakh Union Territory recorded a low of minus 18.4 degrees Celsius, he said, adding the nearby Drass registered a minimum of minus 27.8 degrees Celsius.

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Nixing Sher-e-Kashmir from awards political vendetta: NC

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jan 27: National Conference Monday took strong exception to axing of the name of Sheikh Abdullah from various J&K police gallantry awards, saying the measure has taken vendetta to a higher level.

During a meet of party functionaries here, the NC leaders and workers unanimously condemned the axing of ‘Sher-e-Kashmir from J&K Police gallantry awards.

“It is a calibrated effort to trim every single symbol of J&K’s political individuality. The present ruling dispensation in Delhi heaving with subjective prejudices and complexes against ideals revolving around the Indian constitution and the spirits of its accommodative federalism hasn’t ceased its witch hunt against everything recognisable with sheikh Abdullah. The axing of Sher-e-Kashmir’s name from state gallantry awards should be seen in that direction. It is yet another glaring attempt of perversion aimed to distort J&K’s history, which has long been familiarized with Sheikh Abdullah even decades after his physically leaving the world,” said party spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar.

 

He said nixing Sher-e-Kashmir’s name from awards, and state holidays cannot erase him from J&K’s history.

“His persona is above petty recognitions, and awards. A conscious leader, he preached to his countrymen to overcome timidity and prejudices. He decried lack of courage as a biggest curse in achieving self-respect,” he said.

While rebuffing former deputy CM Nirmal Singh’s remarks on Sheikh Abdullah, Imran said: “We unequivocally condemn his uncouth remarks against Sheikh Sahib. Being lost into the obscurity he is hitting on the tallest political statesman and charismatic mass leader of J&K and Sub-continent to gain cheap publicity.”

Meanwhile party’s members of parliament Muhammad Akbar Lone and (Retd) Justice Hassnain Masoodi also condemned axing of Sher-e-Kashmir’s name from JK police gallantry awards, terming the move “vengeful and shocking”.

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