Thursday, May 6, 2021

After Saudi, Trump Endorses ‘Independent Kashmir’; Why Are Key Allies Turning Against India?

These are the dying moments of the US elections as a ‘war of attrition’ between US president Donald Trump and Joseph Biden is turning out to be, as predicted, a nail-biter, and fortunes may swing either way. Trump had already declared that the ‘transfer of power’ would not be smooth if he loses.

The world is looking at the US, whose president, perhaps in a first-ever, has debunked his own establishment, by claiming that the Pentagon and its deep state i.e. CIA is not ready to withdraw from Afghanistan, even at the cost of a disastrous war of 19 years. He trashed his establishment that it bundled all the deaths as due to COVID-19, which amply shows as to how US establishment works, of course, to the tune of corporate masters.

Trump also has termed the killing of Osama Bin Laden – which has been called the biggest achievement of former US president Obama – a hoax, thus, leaving the world into a tizzy as to how the US works to its own agenda!

The worst was yet to come, as Trump, who forced India to sign BECA, in order to put ‘China into order’ by ‘way of India’ had started to feel the rug under his feet slipping as 72% of Indo-Americans, as per NDTV on October 14, 2020, were in favour of voting for Trump’s rival Biden!

Biden’s vice-president nominee is Kamala Harris, who is of Indian origin, and in case of any eventuality, for instance, if Biden dies or steps down, then the obvious next thing would be an Indian making it to the presidential post of the US.

This has enraged Trump, so much so, that even before the polls results were declared, Trump Junior released a world map, with ‘red’ being the nations in support of the US and ‘blue’ being in opposition to it. Mexico, China and, believe it or not, India, is shown in ‘blue’! To add more smirk into it – wait for the surprise! Yes, Trump Junior has shown Kashmir, as being independent of both India and Pakistan!

This leaves a big question for all the lovelorn politics of Indian PM Narendra Modi who has been in the US campaigning for Trump with ‘Howdy Modi’ in Houston in September 2019, shortly after he had annulled the special status of Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370. And later, the ‘Namaste Trump’ visit of Trump to Modi’s home state Gujarat in February 2020 to mobilize Indian voters towards Trump has also turned to be a damp squib!

What turned out to be more intriguing was when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia released a 20 Riyal Banknote, on October 24, 2020, to celebrate the country playing host to the G20 summit, it was without Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) as part of Pakistan and showed Kashmir as an independent country. Although Pakistan did not even register a squeamish response to the move, India registered a protest saying the banknote was a distortion of the Indian map.

Now, it was the exact same world map, being tweeted by Donald Trump Junior that too hours before the results of the election are to be announced! Certainly, India, which is facing one of the worst war threats from China and Pakistan, in its last 70 years, has been left in a quandary, realizing the world powers want Kashmir to be independent of both India and Pakistan.

Wonder, then, what Modi has got after all these years?

Trump Jr Chops Kashmir From Indian Map, Faces Flak | Kashmir Observer
Trump Jr Chops Kashmir From Indian Map

The map tweeted by Trump Junior shows Pakistan in ‘red’ meaning ‘in support of Trump Senior’ which is quite opposite to reality since Pakistan is loathed by Trump and US establishment alike, for Pakistan did not let US ‘sell-off’ its weapons to India, after ‘vacating’ from Afghanistan and US had to incur an amount ‘triple their cost’ on transportation alone.

Here, it leaves a question? Will Modi or his battery of ministers make India register the same response with the US, as it did with KSA after Kashmir has been annulled from India too? As it becomes clear that KSA did what had been dictated to it by the US.

Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is now being made Pakistan’s fifth province, on the lines suggested by China, as it is China’s gateway to its life-line project China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). And, ironically, when India had started to air the GB weather report on May 9, 2020, it led to a backlash from China in Ladakh in which India lost its 20 soldiers on June 15, 2020, as China perceived the Indian move to finally attack CPEC.

The latest move from Trump Junior throws back the obvious cardinal question – has Pakistan already sold off its side of Kashmir? And, what would now be the Indian policy vis-a-vis the US which ultimately wants Kashmir to be a sovereign nation, to make it its military base in order to thwart China for the times to come.

India has been caught on the wrong foot, thanks to Modi, as the US is set to steer clear of Indian position on Kashmir, and the worse is that in the middle of all this, India has already lost its 70-years-old friend Russia.

How will ‘blue’ China, as shown in the map respond, along with ‘blue’ India (sic), is something only time would tell, as China will seek to make its moves to blunt US maneuvers over GB and the next years would find this new game unfolding. With Russia on the side of China, we may see India scurrying for its new ‘place’ as Kashmir is now into the hands of world powers.

If Trump loses, then, the move of Trump Junior will be a constant ‘reminder’ of the Republican position on Kashmir, which perhaps Democrats will find it too hard to put into favour of India?

The writer is a former State Information Commissioner, India. He is a media analyst and writes on international politics.

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