French President Echoes India’s Position on Kashmir, Emphasises Bilateral Solution
French President Emmanuel Macron has emphasised a bilateral solution to the Kashmir issue and has called for third parties to refrain from interfering in or inciting violence in the region. He made these comments during a one-on-one meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The French leader has also conveyed to Indian PM Modi that India and Pakistan are themselves responsible for avoiding a deterioration of the situation in Kashmir and preventing a potential escalation of events.
Macron also stated that France would remain attentive to the issue to ensure that the interests and rights of the civilian population on both sides of Line of Control are protected.
He also underscored the maintenance of peace in the region and called for civilian rights to be protected. He further expressed his intention to convey his thoughts about a bilateral solution in Kashmir to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in the coming days.
The French president’s comments came after the Indian prime minister apprised him of India’s decision to revoke the disputed territory’s special status.
France’s decision to support bilateralism in context of the Kashmir issue is being seen in light of its military deals with India. India is set to receive 36 Rafale fighter jets next month. Commentators are saying that the reason France has chosen to back New Delhi’s stance of bilateralism on the Kashmir issue is due to the fact that the Rafale deal is at stake.
A Pakistani journalist opined on Twitter that Macron’s decision was motivated by the ‘lucrative’ Rafale deal.
Do not blame you @EmmanuelMacron After that lucrative Raphael deal everything is bilateral.
Modi and I have discussed Kashmir, will tell Imran to settle it bilaterally: French’s Macron | India News, The Indian Express https://t.co/tgXQvE8GLS via @IndianExpress
— Mariana Baabar Pashteen (@MarianaBaabar) August 23, 2019
Another commentator was of the view that because this issue is getting traction at the international stage, with world powers like USA, France and China talking about it, this issue does not have to be solved bilaterally.
Kashmir is discussed daily with USA, France, China, Russia, UK, etc. It even reached the UN for the first time in decades
Everyone wants to play "mediator" and win a Nobel Peace Prize for it. And we're still pretending this circus is a "bilateral issue"?
— Chirpy Says (@IndianPrism) August 22, 2019
A French journalist has questioned India’s democratic credentials in light of the situation on Kashmir.
My analysis of the joint declaration by Modi and Macron, where I ask, among other observations, how long France can pretend India is a democracy that defends “basic freedoms.” https://t.co/r5jBepM3gA
— Mira Kamdar (@mirakamdar) August 22, 2019
Moreover, an Indian academic said that despite the Rafale deal between India and France, the latter has still called for protection of Kashmiri rights. This view trivialises the argument that the Rafale deal has prevented France from taking a principled stance.
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) August 23, 2019
Meanwhile, world powers have generally been in support of the idea that this is an internal matter of India and would be best solved bilaterally. Some Muslim states like the United Arab Emirates and Maldives have even supported the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution.
However, there does exist support for the idea that this issue need not be solved bilaterally. Early in August, US President Donald Trump offered to mediate on the Kashmir issue if both countries agreed. Trump’s statements can be seen as supportive for Pakistan in the context of the Kashmir issue in face of widespread support for India’s position of bilateralism.