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Trump wants Pakistan's help in Afghanistan exit, offers to mediate Kashmir

  • 22 Jul 2019

US President Trump claimed he can end the Afganistan war but the country "would be wiped off the face of the earth." He said Pakistani PM Imran Khan could help negotiate a peace deal and offered to mediate on the Kashmir dispute.

US President Donald Trump (R) spoke of possibly restoring to Pakistan $1.3 billion that he had cut last year, depending upon the results of the meeting with visiting Pakistan PM Imran Khan. ( Reuters )

US is working with Pakistan to find a way out of the war in Afghanistan and is ready to mediate on Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, President Donald Trump, speaking at a White House meeting with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, said on Monday. 

Trump claimed he could end the nearly two-decade-old war in a matter of days but that it would kill millions of people and wipe the country "off the face of the earth."

"I could win that war in a week. I just don't want to kill 10 million people," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. "If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth.

It would be gone. It would be over, literally, in 10 days."

Trump held out the possibility of restoring US aid to Pakistan, depending upon what is worked out while Khan told the US president there was only one solution for Afghanistan and that a peace deal with the Taliban was closer than it had ever been.

He said he hoped in the coming days to be able to urge the Taliban to continue the talks.

Uneasy ties

Trump wants to wrap up the US war in Afghanistan and sees Pakistan's cooperation as crucial to any deal to end the war and ensure the country does not become a base for militant groups like Daesh or Al Qaeda.

Washington wants Islamabad to pressure Afghanistan's Taliban into a permanent ceasefire and participation in talks with the Afghan government.

Trump last year slashed millions of dollars of security assistance to Islamabad, which it accused of serving as a safe haven for militants. Pakistan has denied the accusations.

In recent years relations between the US and Pakistan have resembled a yo-yo. 

In November 2018, Trump tweeted, "We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another."

That statement created a furore in Islamabad.

Khan, the former captain of the Pakistani cricket team who assumed office last fall, fired back.

He tweeted that Pakistan has suffered 75,000 casualties and lost $123 billion in the "US War on Terror," despite the fact that no Pakistanis were involved in the September 11 attacks. He said the US has only provided a "minuscule" $20 billion in aid.

Now, both countries are trying to smooth tensions.

Trump also said US and Pakistan are seeking to meet the "tremendous potential" in their bilateral ties.

"We haven't met the potential of either country. I think the potential with Pakistan, and likewise the opposite way, we haven't come close to meeting it."

Trump ready to mediate Kashmir dispute

On Monday, Trump also offered to mediate the decades-long Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, signalling a shift in long-standing US policy that the dispute must be solved bilaterally.

Kashmir has been divided between both countries and China since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 and remains at the root of tensions between the two nuclear-armed South Asian countries.

"If I can help, I would love to be a mediator," Trump said at the White House. "If I can do anything to help, let me know."

Trump said Indian PM Narendra Modi also wanted his help in Kashmir dispute, a remark drawing immediate reaction from New Delhi that denied Modi made such request.

"Only the most powerful state, headed by President Trump, can bring the two countries together," said Khan. 

"We have made all overtures to India to start dialogue, resolve our differences through dialogue, but unfortunately we haven't made headway as yet," Pakistan PM said.

Trump expressed a willingness to take up the herculean task.

It is far from the first time that Trump has offered to intervene in a seemingly intractable international dispute. US mediation, which has long been sought by Pakistan, is likely to be rejected outright by New Delhi.

India and Pakistan have been fighting over the Himalayan former kingdom for decades.

Some 100,000 people, mostly civilians, have died over the past 30 years in India-administered Kashmir, monitoring groups say.

The fighting is between Indian soldiers ––  who number around 500,000 on the ground –– and a few hundred rebels wanting either independence or union with Pakistan in a UN-brokered plebiscite and backed by a majority of the population in Kashmir Valley.  

The Pentagon said Pakistan's army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, will meet later on Monday with the top American military officer, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford.

Analysts believe Bajwa will play a key role in behind-the-scenes discussions in which much of the serious business of the visit will take place, with the military looking to persuade Washington to restore aid and cooperation.

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