ISLAMABAD - United States President Donald Trump has started a ‘remote’ mediator’s role on the Kashmir issue as Washington expected Islamabad to concentrate on the Afghan peace deal.

Senior government officials told The Nation that Trump wants Pakistan out of the war-like situation with India to give more time to the Afghan issue.

“President spoke to Prime Minister Imran Khan two times in the recent days which speaks volumes about the interest he is showing in the region. President Trump is trying to play an unofficial mediator’s role to defuse Pak-India tension,” said one official.

Another official said Pakistan wanted Trump to play a more active role and use influence on India to end excesses in Kashmir. “It’s give and take for Pakistan and the US. Washington understands they have to help Pakistan to get their own job (on Afghanistan) done. Trump has promised to remain in contact with both the countries,” he added.

US to continue contacts with both countries. Pak summons Indian DHC over ceasefire violations

This week, President Trump telephoned Pakistani and Indian Prime Ministers- Imran Khan and Narendra Modi - and urged them to play role in reducing the escalating unrest in Kashmir.  In a tweet, Trump called Imran Khan and Modi his good friends and said that a discussion was held on the ‘tough situation’ of occupied Kashmir. He said they also deliberated upon the trade ties and strategic partnership.

“Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding trade, strategic partnerships and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations,” he tweeted. “A tough situation, but good conversations,” he wrote.

White House Spokesman Hogan Gidley said: “The president conveyed the importance of reducing tensions between India and Pakistan and maintaining peace in the region.”

Mounting tensions between Pakistan and India have flared following New Delhi’s scrapping of the special status for the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir region.

The region has been facing a clampdown since August 5 when the Indian government repealed its special status. Hundreds of people, mostly political leaders, have been detained by the authorities.

Kashmiri leaders and citizens fear the move is an attempt by India to change the demography of the state, where some groups have been fighting Indian rule for either independence, or unification with neighbouring Pakistan.  India’s decision this month to scrap Article 370, thereby revoking the special status of its portion of the Kashmir region that both countries claim, has worsened an already difficult relationship between the two neighbouring countries.

President Trump urged that both sides exercise restraint. The White House said Trump discussed with PM Khan the need to “reduce tensions and moderate rhetoric with India” and conveyed “the importance of reducing tensions” in the phone call with Modi. Trump also discussed economic and trade relations with both countries.

“The two leaders further discussed how they will continue to strengthen US-India economic ties through increased trade, and they look forward to meeting again soon,” the White House said of the call with Modi.

Kashmir has been divided between Pakistan and India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947. The disputed region has been the spark for two major wars and countless clashes between the two neighbours.

Meanwhile, Director General South Asia Dr Mohammed Faisal summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia yesterday and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control on August 18 in Hot Spring and Chirikot Sectors of LoC.

“A seven years old minor boy, Saddam, who got seriously injured has succumbed to injuries and has been martyred,” said a foreign ministry statement. The Indian occupation forces along the LoC and Working boundary have continuously been targeting civilian populated areas with artillery fire, heavy-caliber mortars, and automatic weapons, which still continues.

This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from the year 2017 when the Indian forces committed 1970 ceasefire violations, said Dr Faisal. “The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws. The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation,” he added.

The Director General urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 Ceasefire arrangement; investigate these and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC and the Working Boundary.

He said the Indian side should permit UN observers to play its mandated role as per the UN Security Council resolutions.