The US President, Donald Trump’s india visit will offer New Delhi sufficient diplomatic steroids to amplify its stand on Kashmir

Whether one accepts it or not, the forthcoming maiden visit of US President Donald Trump is politically, economically, and strategically very significant for both the countries. It is taking place at a time when Pakistan is stridently going ahead with its disinformation campaign against India on Kashmir.

Surprisingly, it has found in UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres a gullible international figure who could speak the same thing that the country’s political and army elites want him to speak. During his recent visit to Pakistan, Guterres offered his good offices for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. Though India summarily rejected this proposal from the UNSG, it helped Pakistan’s Imran Khan government in generating enough political soundbites against India.

Remarks on Kashmir by some anti-India European leaders, including the United Kingdom’s Labour Party lawmaker Debbie Abrahams, have armed Pakistan with ammunition to hit India hard. They have questioned India on the detention of political leaders and a controlled communications system. Foreign media outlets like The New York Times say, “the internet clampdown in Kashmir is far worse than anywhere in the world. It even surpasses China. It is a step towards demolishing democracy in India.”

In the midst of such anti-India bashing, the US President’s visit will offer New Delhi sufficient diplomatic steroids to amplify its stand on Kashmir. Pakistan, despite being rebuffed by a large number of Islamic countries, including those who are members of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), is trying its best to internationalise the issue.

Remember, after India abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, Pakistan’s all-weather friend China endeavored hard to humiliate India by taking it up at the UN Security Council twice. And both the times, the US played an anchor’s role in steamrolling China’s plan. It happened at a time when India and the US were not having comfortable relations on the trade front. But then, in international relations, personal chemistry is what matters between leaders.

Both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump are known for making hard decisions. They are also known for surprise moves, irrespective of whether they are politically acceptable or not. Personal chemistry between them overrides the contradictions that the two countries face on international issues like Afghanistan and Iran. Even on Kashmir, the US President has embarrassed India twice by offering to play a mediatory role between New Delhi and Islamabad on Kashmir.

Despite this, Modi and Trump enjoy irrefutable bonhomie between them and India wants to encash this for its move on Kashmir and also the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). To the dismay of the Indian Prime Minister, the CAA issue has helped Modi-bashers in portraying him as a polarising figure.

It is in this backdrop that the visit of one of the most powerful leaders in the world will give Prime Minister Modi an opportunity to salvage his reputation as a strong leader with the ability to influence domestic constituents. It will also provide him a chance to silence his political enemies who mischievously say that the Prime Minister has isolated India from the international community by playing with Kashmir and making Muslims “others” in their own country through the controversial citizenship law.

Whatever may be the optics surrounding Trump’s upcoming visit, New Delhi will ensure that the US President helps draft a new meaning to ties between the two countries at a time when some international forces are trying to create problems for India. Also, the aggressive rise of China is creating political and strategic ripples in the entire Indo-Pacific region.