“Why Is PM Mum?” Opposition Wants Discussion On Trump’s Kashmir Claim

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US President Donald Trump met PM Narendra Modi at the recent G20 summit in Japan (File)

New Delhi:

Amid a massive controversy over US President Donald Trump's claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to "mediate" on Kashmir, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar will make a statement in parliament. Both houses began this morning with loud protests from opposition benches over Trump's comments.

Two notices were submitted for an urgent discussion; Congress MP K Suresh called for a discussion in the Lok Sabha and Left lawmaker D Raja in the Rajya Sabha.

Several Congress leaders tweeted since morning demanding PM Modi's statement in parliament on Trump's stunning claim, which runs completely contrary to India's stand that Kashmir is a bilateral issue with Pakistan that needs no third-party mediation.

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India has strongly rejected Trump's claim and even the US State Department, in a clarification, said while Kashmir is a bilateral issue, "the Trump administration welcomes Pakistan and India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist".

Congress president Randeep Surjewala, however, referred to the full transcript of Trump's joint media briefing with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday and questioned when PM Modi would call his bluff.

"Now, 'Whitehouse' puts up POTUS' (Donald Trump) assertion in 'black and white' that Prime Minister Modi asked him to 'mediate on Kashmir'…When will our Prime Minister 'wake up' and call the bluff if President Trump is lying? Or did Prime Minister Modi ask POTUS (Donald Trump) to mediate," Mr Surjewala tweeted.

Now, 'Whitehouse' puts up @POTUS assertion in 'black & white' that PM Modi asked him to 'mediate on Kashmir'!
When will our PM 'wake up' & call the bluff if President Trump is lying?
Or
Did PM Modi ask @POTUS to mediate?https://t.co/pFV8gnl6YQ

— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) July 23, 2019

On Monday, with Imran Khan by his side, President Trump said: "I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago, and we talked about the subject. And he actually said, 'would you like to be a mediator, or arbitrator', and I said 'where?', and he said 'Kashmir', because this has been going on for many, many years. I was surprised for how long it has been going on," to which Imran Khan interjected to say, "70 years".

"I think they (India) would like to see it resolved, and I think you (Pakistan) would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be mediator," the US President said.

New Delhi asserted that PM Modi had never made such a request to him, and stressed that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are "discussed only bilaterally".

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The Indian Army has been fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir operated by handlers in Pakistan, such as Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed, and has maintained that Pakistan must stop sheltering terrorists

"We have seen the US President's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India and Pakistan, on the Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US President," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.

"It has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement 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 and Pakistan bilaterally," he said.

Mr Surjewala had earlier also questioned what he called the Prime Minister's silence. "Reiteration of time-tested line on no mediation on Kashmir is welcome. POTUS (Donald Trump) remarks relate to a meeting between him and Prime Minister Modi, wherein our Prime Minister had asked him to mediate. Why is Prime Minister mum on what transpired between the two heads of states, more so when it affects our sovereignty?" he asked.

1/2 this is a very serious claim to make wherein he has either invented a conversation or stated what actually transpired between the two. A response by a Joint Secy level officer won't do. PM must clarify in both houses today whether he asked Trump to mediate on Kashmir or not?

— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) July 23, 2019

Congress parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor, however, blamed Trump over the row, saying he "doesn't know what he is saying" and "it looks like he wasn't briefed properly."

Mr Tharoor added it was "impossible that PM Modi can ask such a thing, our policy has always been against mediation."

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