Donald Trump rushes in where angels fear to tread, which, in this case, is the devil infested vale of Kashmir

Donald Trump rushes in where angels fear to tread, which, in this case, is the devil infested vale of Kashmir. The compulsive interventionist and disruptionist pokes his Pinocchio nose into every situation ignoring the odour and the stench. Subject of liberal ridicule at home, he is taking his Big Brother role a tad seriously. Facing an impeachment at home, the US President is tilting at the windmills of world peace with the panache of a panacea pundit. He is escalating his battle for a second term by attempting to win hearts abroad rather than seeking votes at home.

While his predecessor Barrack Obama won the Nobel peace prize before he even moved into Pennsylvania Avenue, Trump is still struggling to broker peace treaties in regions where US is directly or indirectly involved. America factors in conflicts in West Asia and Kashmir into its algorithm of global diplomacy. Without the Valley, innumerable interlocutors, opinion peddlers, media-wallahs and politicians would lose both their relevance and jobs. Successive American presidents have tried to resolve ‘K’ but failed and withdrew. With the US economy hitting the high notes and Americans falling for Trump’s ultra nationalism, there was hardly a need to for an outreach involving Kashmir.

But not for Trump and the Art of the Deal. Even as Modiology rendered irrelevant and silent all dialogue-obsessed megaphones, the Donald went on an overdrive. He is a headline machine from North Korea to New Delhi but his undiplomatic adventurism has predictably been counterproductive. Last week, he preened on stage once again the global mediator between Pakistan and India during a visit to Davos to address the World Economic Forum.

The Imran-Trump bromance was on full swing: Trump said, “We’re talking about Kashmir and the relation to what’s going on with Pakistan and India. And if we can help, we certainly will be helping. And we’ve been watching that and following it very, very closely.” The isolated Imran was elated. He replied beaming, “And of course, we always hope that the US will play its part in resolving it, because no other country can.” There were few takers for Trump’s unilateral intervention. India ignored his remarks.

On the inverse side, Trump’s Kashmir obsession reflects the desperation of the Pakistan establishment to regain lost credibility. The US has been leveraging the relationship for strategic actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region. The Pak Army uses Imran as the face of its fixed democracy. Two years after being in power, Imran has failed to exploit his connections with the Indian elite and peaceniks to nudge the Indian government to resume the dialogue.

During the past two years, Pakistan has failed to persuade any major superpower except China to support its views on Kashmir. Even the abolition of Article 370 didn’t alter international perception about Pakistan as a terror haven. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it absolutely clear that he wouldn’t talk unless terror camps across the border were totally destroyed and the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks are handed over to India to face trial. Both India and Pakistan-based Think Tanks are facing imminent closure as none of their paid retired diplomats and defence officials could penetrate the Modi establishment. Trump is Imran’s only option left to revive lost connectivity with his former Indian hosts and the chatteratti, who were used to enjoying foreign junkets with luxurious hospitality to prevent an imaginary India Pakistan war.

Imran has been begging Trump ever since he became the Pak premier to wade into the Valley. During his US visit in July 2019, he told Trump: “You will have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate or resolve this issue.” Since then POTUS has been sweating it out to collect Pak prayers. It was when he claimed that Modi had sought his intervention on the same issue. Expectedly, the Indian Opposition was up in arms in Parliament.

External Affair Minister S Jaishankar punctured Trump’s boast, and turned the tables by insisting: “It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally…I would further underline that any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross-border terrorism.” In the US, the Democrats called Trump’s claim “amateurish and delusional” and insisted that “Everyone knows PM Modi would never suggest such a thing.”

But Trump has a habit of repetition, which many sociologists say is a factor in his charisma build-up. Since July, he has repeated his mediation offer seven times. During his France visit last year, he ensured that his Kashmir agenda made to prime time news. He hardly misses an opportunity to remind Modi that he is forever available to bring Imran to the talks table. Foreign policy wonks are baffled over Trump’s excessive obsession with Pakistan.

They feel that his moves may prove disastrous during the American elections if the powerful and wealthy Indian diaspora turns against him. Access to the massive Indian market and foreign policy mechanism is important for the success of both American diplomacy and business equally. A total ban on dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad would choke the flow of information from within the government agencies, which is freely available to high profile interlocutors. But Trump advisers feel that America’s top tech companies have acquired enough control over the Indian corporate ecosystem and are powerful enough to influence important fiscal and strategic policies. In Pakistan’s case, a cordial relationship is not necessary to achieve the same.

For example, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos was royally ignored by India’s political leadership while the top business leaders, Bollywood icons and other lobbies unrolled the red carpet for his Christian Louboutins. For US diplomacy, the continuity of its core policy of influencing the global narrative takes precedence over market forces. Trump is convinced that reviving the dead K-bomb is the best way to ensure the efficacy and sustenance of its embedded emissaries in the Indian establishment disguised as promoters of peace. Trump is just blowing his own trumpet. He doesn’t know India holds the trump card.