Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Obama will interfere in Kashmir very soon

Pakistan is a problem for Obama, a big problem, much bigger than even Palestine. This is not only because Pakistan is a frontline ally in the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan, but also because Pakistan is under the grip of Islamic fundamentalists who control vast swathes of the country. As Pakistan officially cooperates (in varying degrees) with the American government in its fight against the Taliban, its population turns more and more anti-American. Pakistan's military-intelligence apparatus has very close links with the Taliban and Pakistani Islamists. The US has no chance in hell of dismantling the army-ISI-Islamists link unless the Kashmir problem is resolved to the satisfaction of the common Pakistani. In the eyes of the average Pakistani, the Kashmir dispute necessitates a strong Pakistani army, strategic depth in Afghanistan and links with insurgents willing to become martyrs in Kashmir.  If the Kashmir dispute is resolved, Pakistan's rulers (Zardari or anyone else in power) will find it easy to crush Islamic militancy in Pakistan and divert Pakistan's resources to Afghanistan.

For that reason, Obama will find it irresistible to try and persuade India to solve the Kashmir dispute.  When I say resolve, I mean a resolution that is to the satisfaction of the common Pakistani. India has already had a taste of such interference when a couple of weeks ago, British foreign minister David Miliband wrote in a British newspaper (the Guardian) that "resolution of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms, and allow Pakistani authorities to focus more effectively on tackling the threat on their western borders".  Miliband got a lot of flak for saying what he said, both in India and even from British journalists. It is very much possible that Miliband's article was in anticipation of Obama changing the US policy on Kashmir.  

India has always taken the stand that Kashmir is an internal issue and that it will not permit third party mediation.  I wouldn't say that India should change its stand if Obama were to request India to do so.  Over twenty years of militancy have vitiated the atmosphere so much in the valley. Kashmir is no longer a territorial dispute, but is a part of the global fight against Islamic fundamentalism. Also, the only resolution that will be acceptable to Pakistan is accession to Pakistan.  India should continue to resist any outside interference in Kashmir. However, India must also prepare to withstand pressure from the United States and the adorable Mr. Obama.

1 comment:

JI said...

I'm not convinced Obama is going to 'interfere' in Kashmir. Considering his pro-India remarks lately, especially after the Mumbai terrorist attacks, I think he is committed to building greater Indo-US strategic ties. Miliband is entitled to his views, but he's a little mixed up linking the Kashmir dispute to the Mumbai terror attacks. Doesn't he realise that the aim of jihadis in Pakistan is to create a Muslim caliphate in the sub-continent? Crazy? Yes. As foreign secretary I'm surprised he is unaware of the West's role in fanning the flames of Islamic fundamentalism in order to beat the Soviets in Afghanistan. Nations reap what they sow.

However, I do believe India has committed grave human rights abuses in Kashmir and this has alienated the Kashmiris. If a plebiscite was taken in the 1970s, its possible the Kashmiris would have opted to stay in India. I know Pakistan has sent many insurgents into Kashmir, but India should have been more careful not to cause harm to civilians.