US will not hurt Indian interests in J&K
18 January 2002
The Times of India
NEW DELHI: If the US does not mediate on the Kashmir issue, it will not be for want of effort on the part of bulk of our media both print and electronic to promote such mediation. All the assertions of president Clinton, president Bush and secretary of state Powell cannot persuade a large number of Indian commentators and TV anchor persons that the US does not have a secret agenda to mediate on the Kashmir issue to which India would sooner or later have to succumb. The Americans are more familiar with India''s stand on various issues than perhaps some of our commentators. They remember that they could not armtwist India on the Kashmir issue even when India needed US military help in 1963. Indira Gandhi stood firm on her Vietnam stand even when president Johnson was holding back wheat shipments needed by famine-stricken Bihar. India refused to sign the NPT and CTBT. And India went ahead and liberated Bangladesh when 104 nations voted to stop the war in the UN general assembly. The US attorney general recuses himself from the Enron case because he received a campaign contribution from them. The US had sided with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue during the four decades of the cold war under pressure from the British, though under information now released, we know George Marshall, who was US secretary of state at the time, was of the firm view that the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union was unassailable. Decency and fairness require that a nation with such a long-term partisan record on the dispute cannot play the role of a mediator or facilitator. Today''s India and Pakistan are vastly different from that of the 1950''s and ''60s. India is even less vulnerable to pressure than in those days and Pakistan is no longer a cold war US ally. Though General Musharraf may be an ally in the war against terrorism as India is too, Pakistan is today a self-condemned breeding ground of extremism and terrorism. Thousands of Pakistanis, according to Musharraf, have been killed fighting the Northern Alliance and US special forces in Afghanistan. The US is fighting this war to uphold multi-culturalism. Handing Kashmir over to Pakistan would violate that norm and will be a reward for religious extremism ^ emboldening the two-nation theory. The US today wants to preserve multi-cullturalism in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and elsewhere. When the Americans say they will help in Kashmir if they are requested by both parties, they are aware that they will never get that invitation from Delhi. It is precisely that confidence which makes them comfortable in making such statements.