India and Pakistan have been at daggers drawn over Kashmir for as long as both countries have existed. The two nuclear powers have fought several wars over the disputed territory as well as a decades-long low-grade proxy conflict. It is, in short, a very sensitive topic.
President Trump today announced, in a meeting with Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had invited him to mediate the subject. India heatedly denied having extended such an offer, having long maintained that it will not accept outside mediation.
With Khan beside him, Trump shared his alleged private conversation with Modi. “He actually said, ‘Would you like to be a mediator or arbiter?’ I said, ‘Where?’ He said, ‘Kashmir.’ Because this has been going on for many, many years. I was surprised at how long. It’s been going on a long —” Khan gently reminded him, “Seventy years.”
So according to Trump, Modi offered to have Trump be a mediator for India’s conflict with Pakistan despite both India’s longstanding opposition to such a negotiation and Trump’s obvious unfamiliarity with the issue. Indeed, according to the president’s own account, he had no idea how long the conflict had even been going on.
But maybe Modi decided that what he needed to settle his highly delicate, decades-long, blood-soaked international rivalry was the intervention of an erratic narcissist who probably couldn’t locate the disputed territory on a map.