New Delhi/Washington: Amid a huge political storm, Parliament saw an uproar by Opposition members and repeated disruptions and adjournments on Tuesday over remarks made by US President Donald Trump regarding mediation on the Kashmir issue, even as external affairs minister S. Jaishankar informed both Houses that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had never made any such request for mediation to the US President. The Opposition also sought a statement by the Prime Minister in the House.
The US President had on Monday claimed that Mr Modi had asked him to play the role of a mediator on Kashmir. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, in a sharp tweet, alleged if President Trump’s remarks were true, then Mr Modi had “betrayed” India’s interests.
Mr Jaishankar, in a reaction to President Trump’s remarks, told Parliament: “I would like to categorically state that no such request has been made by the Prime Minister to the US President. I repeat, no such request has been made by the PM to the US President.” Mr Jaishankar added: “I would reiterate that it has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally.
“Any engagement with Pakistan will require an end to cross-border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration provide the basis for resolution of all issues bilaterally,” Mr Jaishankar said.
The Trump administration also launched a damage control exercise after the President’s remarks about mediation on Kashmir, with the state department on Tuesday saying it was a “bilateral” issue between India and Pakistan, and the US “welcomes” the two countries “sitting down” for talks. It also said Pakistan taking “sustained and irreversible” steps against terrorism is key to a successful dialogue with India.
An influential Democratic Congressman on Tuesday also said he had apologised to India’s envoy in the US for President Trump’s “embarrassing” remarks on Kashmir.
“I just apologised to Indian ambassador Harsh Shringla for Trump’s amateurish and embarrassing mistake,” Congressman Brad Sherman tweeted.
In a clarification to the US President’s remarks that was issued around midnight Tuesday, the MEA spokesman had said, “We have seen President Trump’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 (Modi) to the US President. 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 and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally."
The Rajya Sabha witnessed repeated disruptions on Tuesday as Congress, CPI(M) and AAP members created an uproar and demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi make a statement on the issue.