Modi’s assertion has worked, for now

Modi’s assertion has worked, for now

Modi asserted to the G-7 leaders and to the assembled world media that these are bilateral issues and would be resolved only through bilateral talks, and not through third party mediation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks with world leaders on the sidelines of the Group of 7 (G-7) summit at Biarritz in France proved fruitful in clarifying India’s approach in dealing with Kashmir and other issues of contention with Pakistan. Modi asserted to the G-7 leaders and to the assembled world media that these are bilateral issues and would be resolved only through bilateral talks, and not through third party mediation. Modi was successful in getting the G-7 to back off on the Kashmir issue. That he was successful in getting this message across is evident from the fact that US President Donald Trump, who had earlier offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, even claiming that Modi had sought such help from him during the G-20 meet at Osaka, appeared more circumspect at Biarritz. He did not repeat his offer to mediate. However, India must take note of the fact that Trump repeatedly spoke of India and Pakistan speaking to each other to resolve their differences, which the Modi government is unwilling to do unless Pakistan stops fomenting cross-border terrorism. Hence, the possibility of the Trump administration returning to pressure India with its offer to mediate, along with proffering advice on how the Kashmir problem should be resolved, cannot be ruled out.

In addition to France, Modi also visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, two key allies of India in West Asia. He was conferred the 'Order of Zayed' by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the UAE and 'The King Hamad Order of the Renaissance' by the King of Bahrain. These honours are a reflection of the strong friendship that India has built with these countries over the past few years. Most Gulf countries have been close allies with Pakistan and have avoided publicly displaying any closeness with India. That seems to be changing. Recently, the UAE even came out in strong support of India’s decision to revoke Article 370.

Both in the UN Security Council’s ‘informal consultation’ and now, at the G-7 summit, Indian diplomacy has been successful in defeating Pakistan’s campaign to get the big powers to act against India on the Kashmir issue. While India can draw some satisfaction from the fact that most countries endorsed India’s position that Kashmir is its internal matter, India cannot take this for granted.  Our diplomats have won the Modi government some time to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir. Modi must act swiftly to revive democratic processes there and restore people’s democratic rights.