U.S. President Donald Trump's first mediation offer in July between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute cost the people of Kashmir dearly; they lost their special autonomy and are reeling from India's worst form of state terrorism since Aug. 5.
Now Trump has once again offered to mediate the Kashmir issue in his second one-on-one meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sept. 23 in New York after two months.
What price will the Kashmiris have to pay for Trump's Kashmir mediation part two?
Addressing a joint press conference with Khan, Trump said, "I think I would be an extremely good arbitrator. I've done it before, believe it or not. And I've never failed as an arbitrator."
Trump during his first meeting with Khan in the White House on July 22 offered to mediate between the two nuclear-armed nations on the 70-year old Kashmir dispute, the offer was however bluntly rejected by New Delhi. Then on Aug. 2, Trump repeated his Kashmir mediation offer. India this time not only rejected third party mediation but unilaterally annexed Kashmir on Aug. 5 after revoking special status to the disputed territory.
A lot has changed in Kashmir in this two-month period – the period between the first and second Trump-Khan summit. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's bungled Kashmir gambit has taken the two countries 70 years back.
After Trump's first mediation offer, millions of people have been besieged in their houses as hundreds of thousands of Indian troops continue to be deployed in every nook and cranny of the Kashmir Valley.
The crisis spreads
A humanitarian crisis is brewing in the Kashmir Valley, once called a "paradise on Earth," it has turned into a living hell. Kashmiris are bearing the brunt of a strict lockdown and communications blackout and massive crackdown and harassment from the Indian military. New Delhi's Aug. 5 move ramped up tensions between India and Pakistan raising global concerns over a nuclear conflict between the two nations. What else is left for the oppressed Kashmiris, they would have to reel under Trump's second mediation offer?
Prior to the meeting with Khan, President Trump said in a statement that, "a lot of progress has been made in defusing India-Pakistan tensions," and actually triggered speculations about indirect dialogue between the two South Asian archrivals during the U.N. General Assembly with Trump playing the role of a facilitator. Imran Khan, who declared himself an ambassador for Kashmiris, was virtually on "mission Kashmir" in the U.S. when he attended the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly.
The second Trump-Khan summit marks the beginning of Trump's mediation "part two," after the first offer ended up in smoke. Will his offer carry weight for New Delhi, which has occupied Kashmir militarily, this time? Trump actually knows that India will never accept third-party mediation; hence he is diplomatically playing the "mediation song."
If Trump is really serious in resolving the dispute, then he must use his power and influence as president of the United States in the U.N. Security Council, which has so far failed to implement its own resolution of 1948 demanding a plebiscite in Kashmir.
New Delhi rejects U.N. intervention or third-party mediation because it will open the Pandora's box of India's state terrorism and gross violations of human rights in Kashmir. Under Trump's second mediation offer, what is left for India to do in Kashmir except for a genocidal agenda of the ethnic cleansing of Muslims to change the demography of Muslim-majority Kashmir?
After committing a strategic blunder of abolishing the special autonomous status of Kashmir, India is committing mistake after mistake. It enforced a curfew and launched a massive crackdown on Kashmiris, who are not willing to surrender their right to self-determination before Indian military might. The frustrated Indian army is putting blame on Pakistan and playing a dangerous game of escalation with its nuclear-armed archrival.
Prime Minister Khan has already alerted the international community to a possible "false flag operation" by the Indian leadership to "divert attention from massive human rights violations" in occupied Kashmir.
India is allegedly preparing grounds for a false-flag operation by projecting two Pakistani civilians who had inadvertently crossed the Line of Control (LoC) – the de facto border between India and Pakistan – last month as terrorists. Pakistan's military media wing in a press release alleged the Indian military of presenting a false and fabricated story during a press conference on Sept. 4 portraying the apprehended Pakistani civilians as terrorists.
They were also forced to give a confessional statement under duress by the Indian military that they were trained in Pakistan and were from Rawalpindi.
After this second mediation offer, a nuclear war, if it ever breaks out between India and Pakistan, could be the result of tragic mistakes, strategic blunders, miscalculations or misadventures on either side of the border.
The surgical strike drama created by India in February following the Pulwama terrorist attack on the Indian armed forces could trigger a nuclear conflict between the two states. While Trump would continue to play the mantra of mediation, Modi in his arrogance will push the whole region deep into a crisis with no way out.
* Freelance op-ed contributor based in Karachi, Pakistan, contributing analyst at the South Asia desk of Wikistrat