Pakistan Wants The U.S. To Get Involved In The Conflict Over Kashmir

Aug 27, 2019
Originally published on August 28, 2019 9:27 am
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Pakistan and India are again dangerously at odds over the disputed territory of Kashmir after India moved thousands of its troops into the region earlier this month. Pakistan is trying to get the U.S. involved, but that is proving to be a struggle. NPR's Diaa Hadid reports from Islamabad.

DIAA HADID, BYLINE: In a speech to the nation this week, the Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, vowed his country would support Kashmir.

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IMRAN KHAN: (Through interpreter) Whether the world stands with the Kashmiris or not, it is important for the people and the government of Pakistan to stand with them.

HADID: Three weeks ago, India revoked the special status of its part of Kashmir, and that set off tensions with Pakistan. The territory is divided between them, but Pakistan claims it entirely because it's majority Muslim. Pakistan's trying to involve foreign powers in the conflict, but India says this is a bilateral issue, and it's so far refused to negotiate. President Trump has twice offered to mediate, but he was rebuffed by India. And then on Monday, at the G7 summit in France, with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his side, Trump suggested Pakistan and India didn't need his help.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, we spoke last night about Kashmir, and the prime minister really feels he has it under control. I know they speak with Pakistan, and I'm sure that they will be able to do something that will be very good.

HADID: Pakistan did manage to get the U.N. Security Council to discuss Kashmir on August 16. It was the first time in decades that the powerful body discussed the issue. But foreign powers have been fairly quiet since. Pakistan is a nuclear power; so is India. They've gone to war more than once over Kashmir. But Khan and other senior officials have been pretty clear - they don't want another war.

MOSHARRAF ZAIDI: Pakistan has zero interest in any kind of military conflict with India because Pakistan's principal priority right now is working on its economy and making sure that its economy recovers from the crisis that it's going through right now.

HADID: That's Pakistani political analyst Mosharraf Zaidi. He says regional events might help Khan draw Trump into the Kashmir crisis. Pakistan's helping the U.S. negotiate with the Taliban on a deal that would allow American forces to withdraw.

ZAIDI: One of the things that Pakistan has is it can appeal to President Trump, and it can say, look - we're trying our best to help you in Afghanistan, but you've got to help us in Kashmir.

HADID: In the meantime, Khan's told Pakistanis they'll have to stand in solidarity with Kashmir - literally. He's ordered schools, colleges and businesses to stand once a week between 12:00 and 12:30 Those images will help remind the world that the conflict continues, but it also might be a way for Khan to manage domestic frustrations.

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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in foreign language).

HADID: There's certainly people here who want more action, even war. Right after India scaled back Kashmir's autonomy, a few thousand Kashmiris rallied, demanding they be allowed to fight India.

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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in foreign language).

HADID: It could be bluster. But if and when images emerge of Indian troops violently cracking down on Kashmiris, that pressure will increase.

Diaa Hadid, NPR News, Islamabad.

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