New Delhi, July 23 : Amid an uproar over US President Donald Trump’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan at the G-20 summit in Osaka, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Tuesday categorically rejected Trump’s statement and clarified in both the Houses of Parliament that “no such request was ever made”.
The matter was raised in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha when the Houses assembled for the day. The opposition demanded a clarification from the Prime Minister but the government chose minister Jaishankar to reply. This led to an uproar in both the Houses – the Rajya Sabha faced an adjournment and in the Lok Sabha all the opposition parties walked out.
In his reply to Parliament, the External Affairs Minister categorically denied Trump’s claim and said, “Yesterday, the US President made certain remarks to the Press after meeting the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He said that he was ready to mediate if requested by India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. I assure the House categorically that no such request has been made by Prime Minister 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.”
Concluding his statement, Jaishankar said the Shimla agreement and the Lahore declaration provide the only basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan.
The minister read out his statement first in the Rajya Sabha and then in the Lok Sabha where the matter was allowed to be raised by Speaker Om Birla after Question Hour.
Offering to be a “mediator” between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, the US President had, in a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, asked him if he would agree to the proposal.
The Congress and the Communist Party of India (CPI) reacted sharply to the US President’s claim, demanding an explanation from the Prime Minister on the issue in the Upper House. “The entire country was shocked last night to hear US President Donald Trump tell Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan that, at the G20 Summit held recently in Osaka, the Prime Minister of India had requested him to mediate on Kashmir,” said Congress leader Anand Sharma.
Amid the uproar in the Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu adjourned the proceedings followed by his statement, “how is it possible that you don’t believe on your own government and believe on what a foreign leader said.”
Meanwhile, the matter was raised in the Lok Sabha by Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury followed by slogans by other opposition members. Chowdhury said, “India has bowed before the US. We are not weak. The PM must reply.”
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla interrupted and said, “This is a national and a very sensitive issue. The country’s integrity and security is involved. We need to speak in one voice.” He said he has received an adjournment notice and assured the members that it can be discussed.
“We all know who took the issue to the UN,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said in a veiled dig at the Congress. The Speaker said that there should not be any politics on the issue. “This is a serious issue. We need to have a constructive debate. Let’s discuss this after the Question Hour.”
The opposition staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha when its demand seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reply was not met by the government.
Raising the issue for the second time in the Lower House during Zero Hour, Congress MP Manish Tewari sought Modi’s reply and asked whether the Prime Minister had made any request to Trump at the G-20 summit. Tewari said if this was the case then, “it is a very big stroke on India’s unity and sovereignty”.
Trinamol Congress leader Saugata Roy also sought the Prime Minister’s reply on the issue, calling it a “highly sensitive” matter. “This is in contravention of all past positions held by India that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and any bilateral issue with Pakistan would not invite third party mediation and that Kashmir is an integral part of India,” Roy said. Roy also said that the Prime Minister has violated the basic thing and compromised the territorial integrity of India and that is why he would not like External Affairs Minister Jaishankar to reply on the matter as he is a professional diplomat and would say high sounding phrases.”I want direct reply from Prime Minister,” Roy said.
As the opposition’s demand was not heeded and Jaishankar stood up to speak on the issue, the Lower House witnessed an uproar. Amid the din, the Minister read out the statement but the opposition did not pay heed to the government’s statement and trooped out of the House.