January 2004 News

America An 'invisible Third Party' In Kashmir: US Expert

1 January 2004
News Network International

Srinagar: Despite its rhetorical stand that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, the United States discreetly seeks a mediatory role because that will not just raise its importance in the world community but will also confirm its status of sole superpower, an American expert on Asian affairs has said. Dr Bernard Haykel, Assistant Professor, Middle Eastern Studies, New York University was quoted by 'The Kashmir Times' newspaper as saying that Kashmir was one of the most important components of American foreign affairs policy and that's why it is very keen that the issue should be resolved at the earliest. Dr Haykal currently in Kashmir delivered a lecture on 'United States and Political Islam' Jammu university. Given its importance in its foreign affairs, American interests lie in the fact that the confrontation, between the two hostile neighbors on this issue, should not lead to a catastrophic full fledged war and this is its primary concern, he told the paper in an interview. Again to serve its own ends, US wants an early end to Kashmir imbroglio and that's why it is actively 'engaged' in the peace process, observed Dr Haykel. He added that there is no denial to the fact that America is interested to don the role of active peace broker in the sub-continent and in fact it is already at the 'front' as an 'invisible third party' formulating the agenda and 'dictating terms'. However, for public posturing, US continues to maintain that it will not intervene as a mediator unless it is desired by both the concerned parties, he said. Haykal maintained that even Kashmir problem has not escaped the influence of phenomenon of 'radicalization of Islam' as now this term is being exploited by the fundamentalists to recruit militants for 'Kashmir struggle'. Earlier these developments here were benefiting Pakistan but after it joined the United States in its 'war against terrorism', it (Pak) is being 'hurt' by its 'own weapon'. And on the proverbial lines, at present it is caught in its own trap, Dr Haykel said. It's another remarkable feature is that it is mainly driven by domestic considerations and not by national or international concerns. And domestic considerations gain further importance when it is an election year, Dr Haykel added. Quoting the contradictions in US foreign policy, he mentioned that some foreign policy circles believe that the real threat to US comes from radical Islam being funded by Saudi Arabia while Junior Bush describes it (Saudi Arabia) as a friendly state in its war against terrorism. There are certain groups in US administration better described as neo-conservatives which affirm that US has a definite role to play in the world. First it has to spread democracy and then it has to promote liberal capitalist trade agenda. And for the propagation of this model, United States has successfully roped in Japan and Germany. Even behind attack against Iraq, neo-conservatives had this model in mind. Good side of these groups is that they don't think of races but the bad side is that they don't have hesitation in using weaponry might, engaging military forces and taking great risks in the furtherance of their model, Dr Haykel briefed. He observed that American foreign policy makers really give a damn to what Muslims feel about the United States notwithstanding that a substantial Muslim population is there in United States. What the policy makers are really bothered about are the security concerns of the country and the growth of its economy because US economy is directly linked to price index across the world besides the petro prices. In the aftermath of September 11 incident, FBI is persecuting Muslims, Arabs in the garb of 'involvement in terrorist activities'. Even US Justice department is involved in the persecution and the 'targeted' people fall in the age group of 18-45 years, Dr Haykel pointed out. He also mentioned the problems being faced by Muslim scholars, students and visiting professors in the acquisition of visa to pursue their academic activities in the universities and schools of America. Although civil liberties groups object to new powers given by the Justice department to FBI on this account but paradoxically the government is not responding to these objects about its policies, the learned professor lamented. Cautioning Indian foreign policy makers against adopting the similar line to fight against terrorism taking advantage of this situation in US, he warned that this kind of Indian position vis-a-vis Pakistan would be 'extremely foolish' and would be a risky venture for it. 'Because firstly, neo conservatives are fast losing favour in the United States with hundreds of US soldiers being killed in Iraq and secondly Pakistan is an anomaly in US foreign policy. Despite 'creating' Taliban in Afghanistan and supporting Muslims in Chechnya, Pakistan has not suffered and after 9-11 the world has seen president Musharraf going from strength to strength. US has willfully not engaged Pakistan in confrontation keeping in view its decade long strategic alliance. Agencies have been very helpful to US agencies, forces in their war against terrorism. And obviously this 'structural relationship', India will not be able to develop soon,' Dr Haykel maintained. He added that US concern is only how it can use both India and Pakistan to further its strategic, global interests. Nothing is given free and there is a strong nexus of interests between Bush and Musharraf, he noted. Jammu University vice-chancellor Prof. Amitabh Mattoo in his presidential remarks observed that US foreign policy is dominated by three groups; neo conservatives, traditional conservatives and liberals. As far as traditional conservatives are concerned they support 'cold war' days approach to fight against terrorism whereas liberals are for introspection of US policies. And common features of these three groups are they all want to deal with terrorism robustly although degree may vary, want to go to roots of the problem for its treatment and they all recognize Middle East and want the role of US as a peace broker there, Prof Mattoo averred. While mentioning about the determinant factors of the foreign policy of India including reaction of Muslim population, relations with Arab world, complexities of US foreign policies and attitude of Pakistan and Indian armed forces, Prof Mattoo initiated a stimulating question answer session. Responding to various queries of the distinguished gathering, Dr Haykel noted that American domestic audience does not see contradictions in US foreign policy. Asserting that power has a polity of its own, he prophesied that if Iraq becomes democratized, neo conservatives would become strong. Intervening into the discussion that followed the lecture, former foreign secretary Salman Haider maintained who goes up and who goes down has a direct bearing on the foreign policy of any nation as the dimensions are more emphasized.-


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