UNITED NATIONS: “I had a very good meeting with Prime Minister (Imran) Khan. It was a long meeting and we discussed a lot,” said US President Donald Trump when Indian journalists pressed him to condemn Pakistan’s alleged support for militants in the occupied valley.

The 74th session of the UN General Assembly, although focused on climate change, has also become an India-Pakistan battlefield, with both trying to win over the support of the international community for their position on Kashmir.

While the Pakistanis are focusing on the human rights violations in held Kashmir, the Indians try to divert the world’s attention to its accusation that Islamabad intends to send 500 militants into the valley.

Since Aug 5, when India unilaterally and illegally annexed the occupied land, the US and international media have published hundreds of stories on the Indian siege of Kashmir, which entered its 51st day on Wednesday.

UNGA session is focused on climate change, but it has also become an India-Pakistan battlefield

This makes it difficult for the Indians to deflect allegations of human rights violations in held Kashmir. They, however, counter it by trying to lead the argument to terrorism, as Indian journalists did at the Trump-Modi presser on Tuesday afternoon.

President Trump, however, refused to be dragged into this debate and in doing so, he once again reiterated his offer of arbitration to reduce India-Pakistan tensions, despite New Delhi’s repeated rejection of his offers.

Asked “how do you make sure that you clamp down on terrorism from Pakistan,” the US leader said: “Well, I had a very good meeting with Prime Minister Khan. It was a long meeting and we discussed a lot.”

Read: Trump says ready to mediate on Kashmir if both Pakistan, India want

He then made his first – and the third this week – reference of the day to his mediation offer. “And I think he’d like to see something happen that would be very fruitful, very peaceful. And I think that will happen, ultimately. I really believe that these two great gentlemen (Mr Khan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi) will get together and work something,” he said.

“You mentioned Pakistan, but Iran would have to be at the top of the list. Because if you look at terrorist states, that’s been the number one for a long time,” he added.

He then went back to urging India, Pakistan to talk to each other — another suggestion New Delhi does not like.

“I really believe that Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Khan, they get along — they will get along when they get to know each other. And I think a lot of good things will come from that meeting.”

The journalists then tried another approach, claiming that Pakistan had 30 to 40 thousand terrorists and asked Mr Trump to give a message to Islamabad on this issue.

“Well, I mean, the message is not for me to give, it’s for Prime Minister Modi to give. And I think he gave that loud and clear on the other day (in Houston) when we were together. He gave a pretty loud message. And I’m sure he will be able to handle that situation.”

The journalists then came from a different angle, claiming that Mr Khan admitted training Al Qaeda (which he did not). “How do you see the statement coming from the Pakistani prime minister,” one of them asked.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2019