Continuing its tirade over US President Donald Trump’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to mediate in the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, the Congress on Tuesday dared Modi to wake up and call the latter’s bluff.
“Now, ‘Whitehouse’ puts up POTUS’ (Donald Trump) assertion in ‘black and white’ that Prime Minister Modi asked him to ‘mediate on Kashmir’.
“When will our Prime Minister ‘wake up’ and call the bluff if President Trump is lying? Or did Prime Minister Modi ask POTUS (Donald Trump) to mediate?” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a tweet .
Addressing a press conference on Monday before his meeting with visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in the White House, Trump said: “I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago, and we talked about the subject. And he actually said, ‘would you like to be a mediator, or arbitrator’, and I said ‘where?’, and he said ‘Kashmir’, because this has been going on for many, many years. I was surprised for how long it has been going on,” to which Imran Khan interjected to say, “70 years”.
“I think they (India) would like to see it resolved, and I think you (Pakistan) would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be mediator,” the US President said.
The Central government has, however, rebuffed Trump’s claim, saying that Modi had never made such a request to him, and stressed that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are “discussed only bilaterally”.
“We have seen the US President’s remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India and Pakistan, on the Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US President,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.
“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. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally,” he said.
Surjewala also questioned Prime Minister’s silence over the claim. “Reiteration of time-tested line on no mediation on Kashmir is welcome. POTUS (Donald Trump) remarks relate to a meeting between him and Prime Minister Modi, wherein our Prime Minister had asked him to mediate. Why is Prime Minister mum on what transpired between the two heads of states, more so when it affects our sovereignty?” he asked.