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Kashmir ‘solution’ – a ticket to Security Council

September 29, 2010

This is so typical of DC that one does not even get astonished any more. They simplify things to the barest minimum and then expect the world to go along with them. And if you point that out or refuse to take their cue, they have the ways and means to make a dent anywhere they want to. Not that it affects a nation like Pakistan which it seems is on a suicide mission as it were. They can take a beating and more and yet remain obdurate about their ‘core issues’. They have refused to cooperate with Washington in totality. But then they can see that US is losing steam and cannot go on much longer with a festering wound that is Afghanistan. Bob Woodward’s latest book shows how the US is now more concerned about Pakistan than Afghanistan. It may have come late, but the US has finally managed to join the dots and the picture that is emerging is one that does not amuse Washington at all. At the heart of it all is Pakistan’s state policy of using extremists for their political and strategic aims. The US has also realized that elements propped up by Islamabad to bleed India are also the ones out for a jihad against the west. Zardari is not too worried about collateral damage in the drone strikes. He is looking at the bigger picture. He is looking at the region post American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Pakistan is looking at strategic depth on its western front. Yet they would hate to antagonize Uncle Sam. So they play on and let the US strike with drones in specified areas called ‘boxes’ by the CIA.

The US has been impressing upon India to ‘normalize’ relations with Pakistan so that Pakistan army could shift focus to their western region. Gen Kayani, the Pakistan army chief and the most powerful man in the country has admitted that he is India-centric. Maybe that was a ploy to get the Americans off his back. But I will be surprised if there is not some truth in what the General says. What he failed to mention was that Pakistan also knows that they cannot take on India and that economically and militarily, India has gone miles ahead. Strategically, though it made sense for the General to mouth India phobia. Manmohan Singh’s Sharm-el Sheikh diplomatic initiative was a step in this direction. The recent Foreign Minister level talks were also an effort to make Islamabad feel that they do not need to worry about India. That the Sharm-el Sheikh was torpedoed by a belligerent Indian media and the Foreign Minister level talks were sabotaged by the hosts has left a feeling of inevitability about a situation that seems irredeemable.

Clearly, Washington sees Pakistan at the heart of its operations in Afghanistan. They have been urging Pakistan and India to come together and reduce the tension between the two nations. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Pakistan Foreign Minister went on record to say that he was ready to talk to his Indian counterpart anytime. Privately, though Islamabad has told Washington that any normalization of relations between the two nations is possible only if there is some resolution to the ‘Kashmir problem’. Here is where the gullibility of Washington comes through. Pakistan has thrown a red herring and Washington has taken to it as the panacea to the problem that bedevils them. Pakistan knows that the Kashmir issue is something that cannot be resolved quite so easily. They have bought themselves time. Obama and his men have been led down a maze that leads nowhere. Remember, it is the same Islamabad that has let more than 10,000 Chinese troops in the Northern Areas – the region of Gilgit and Baltistan and now they are asking Washington to help them find a solution to the Kashmir issue. It is they who have bartered away a part of Kashmir to China the Shaksgam Tract a 5,000 sq. km of land strategically located and are now calling for a resolution of the Kashmir issue. Pakistan does not want a resolution of the Kashmir issue nor do they believe that this one issue can be resolved anytime soon. Obama has taken the bait and is now calling on New Delhi to do something about the Kashmir problem so that they can tell Islamabad to focus on their western front. It amazes me as to how men with so much at their command can think about issues that have a history and an equation that is mired in intrigue, so simply.  Obama believes that a solution to the Kashmir issue could be the exit strategy for the west from Afghanistan! Truly, this is farfetched and does not have any links with issues that are at the heart of the problems that face Americans in Afghanistan.

The American ‘solution’ to the Kashmir problem is to accept the Line of Control as the international boundary with a porous border. A porous border in Kashmir will spell doom for the security concerns of India. India is facing incessant influx of terrorists from across the Kashmir LOC. A porous border could have serious repercussions for India. Besides, neither Pakistan nor India is ready to accept the LOC as international border. Even if India accepts the LOC with Pakistan as international border, we are then in effect accepting Aksai Chin as part of China and Shaksgam too as a Chinese territory. Pakistan has been calling for a referendum in Kashmir. Will they accept anything less? Then there is a lobby within Kashmir that is calling for Azadi. This word Azadi has multiple meanings. And the separatists on the Indian side use it as they find suitable in any given situation. Sometimes they say Azadi means an independent Kashmir that will be a buffer between Pakistan, India and China. Other times they call for Azadi as an independence only from Indian control which then in effect means that they want to amalgamate with Pakistan. And then at other times they call for Azadi when they mean that they want greater autonomy for the region of Jammu and Kashmir. I hope Obama and his men know where they are going and what this means. The recent violence in Kashmir valley was also because the people there want the west to know that things are not quite alright in the contentious region prior to the much anticipated Obama visit.

Obama is coming to India with his lovely wife (and perhaps those sweet little daughters too, but that is not confirmed yet) with a message. The Obama message is that India must look at its stature globally and not get bogged down by issues that really are niggles for a nation that has come a long way and has huge potential. Obama is trying to sell India that a ‘solution’ to the Kashmir dispute will be in our interest and that then the country can move forward. He has also dangled the carrot of a permanent seat in the Security Council were India to go along with American plans and try and resolve the Kashmir dispute. Sounds sensible? As I said before, Americans and the West have this propensity to lay a situation to its bare minimum, simplify it to an extent that it becomes incongruous and then expect everyone to go along with their point of view. They forget that India has lost more than a hundred thousand of its men and women in combat and more than 200,000 to terrorist attacks since Independence. Kashmir is more than a piece of land for us. Kashmiri’s are our brothers and sisters and that includes Kashmiri’s on both side of the Line of Control. The people of Baltistan and Gilgit are looking at us with hope that one day they will be extricated from the hell that is the Punjabi-Pashtun rule that they have to contend with on a daily basis. We cannot let them down. The Chinese cannot be handed over Aksai Chin on a platter that will have serious geo-political ramifications and embolden Beijing. If anything, I guess the Americans must have learnt by now that when dealing with China one must talk from a position of strength. India would be committing hara-kiri were we to let go our claim to Aksai China and Shaksgam Tract.

Let us, for a moment, dwell on a situation where India accepts the LOC as international border and accepts the status quo as the norm. Will that mean there will be peace between India and Pakistan? Only a fool will guarantee that Pakistan will stop sending terrorists and hit squads from across the border. Pakistan wants India to disintegrate. Will Obama be a party to such a scheme of things?

Let me make it simpler for our western friends. Joe Liberman said that a two state solution to the Middle East crisis is no guarantee for peace in the region. And he is right. Think on those lines Mr. President. The fault lines run deep. And if this is your agenda on your trip to New Delhi, I am afraid you are coming to India for the wrong reasons.

Addendum: An article in Washington Post: We need to make clear… the cancer is in Pakistan an excerpt from Bob Woodward’s Obama’s War should also interest readers. Following is the link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/28/AR2010092806354_pf.html

PS: As I write this Shah Mehmud Qureshi has brought up the Kashmir issue at the UN. This has irked India no ends. Pakistan strategy is clear, if one can see it.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. neel123 permalink
    September 29, 2010 7:47 pm

    The Americans are greedy and untrustworthy.

    They want a democratic and stable India with a growing economy, for commercial, economic and strategic gain. They want to counter China with India, while their military-industrial complex makes huge profits in India.

    But they want Pakistan even more desperately, to carry out their dirty works in the region. Pakistan will do it for the billions of dollars, which they would use to harm India. The Americans could care less !

    The Americans want to have both India and Pakistan on their side, while paying no attention to Indian concerns and sensitivities. They only have American national interests in their mind.

    In short, the Americans basically want to have their cake and eat it too !

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