On Trump’s Kashmir comment

The Print’s daily roundtable TalkPoint posed a question connected to PM Modi’s conversation with US President Donald Trump on the Kashmir issue since the abrogation of Article 370 visit: Is PM Modi allowing Trump to play policeman in India-Pakistan tensions over Kashmir?

My response:

Policeman is an incorrect metaphor to use. The act of policing involves ensuring compliance with an underlying rule of law. No such enforceable force of law exists in the domain of international relations. Instead, power is the currency in international relations. It is precisely for this reason that Trump’s stance and actions on India-Pakistan tensions are important following the Narendra Modi government’s move to abrogate Article 370.

The real issue then is how the Modi government can deal with a powerful stakeholder like Trump now. While India needs the US in order to increase its own economic and military power, the US-China structural rivalry makes India a very important player in the US strategic calculation. Pakistan doesn’t feature in any of these forces driving the India-US equation.

For its part, Pakistan will try to use the Kashmir issue to drive a wedge between the US and India. From Pakistan’s standpoint, returning to the India-Pakistan hyphenation era in the eyes of the US is desirable. And given Pakistan’s role in the ongoing talks between the US and the Taliban, Pakistan’s case is likely to carry more weight than it otherwise would. India’s challenge will be to continue isolating the US-India relationship from the ongoing India-Pakistan dynamic. This task will become more challenging if the security situation in Kashmir worsens.