Obamas Kashmir talk generates keen interest

6 November 2008
The News International
Mariana Baabar

Islamabad: Pakistan appears to be happy with US President-elect Barack Obamas proposal that he would consider appointing former President Bill Clinton as special envoy on Kashmir. Well, we do not have the proposal before us and neither is it official. If such a proposal is made and an envoy is nominated by Mr Obama, we, of course, will be looking at the terms of reference behind such a move. However, let me add very quickly that on the face of it Pakistan would welcome any such move, and Obama has read the situation well that unless Kashmir is resolved quickly and amicably, tensions arising out of it would continue to prevail in the region, a senior official told The News. Obama made this proposal in an interview with the Time magazine in which he said that he might consider the appointment of former president Bill Clinton as special envoy on Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistani official added further that Pakistan would seek any kind of solution to Kashmir, be it bilateral, through an intermediary or through the UN. Our primary objective is to resolve Kashmir and generally we would welcome such a proposal. After all, are we not trying to resolve Kashmir through the composite dialogue? he asked. However, others like Dr Shirin Mazari do not appear to be happy on Obamas proposal. Appointing Bill Clinton for Kashmir is the same as appointing Tony Blair for the Middle East. Both are biased in their views and their track record is not very reassuring. We know what Clinton is all about and we are familiar with his views on Pakistan. He started the strategic dialogue between the US and India, so how can he play an impartial role? Mazari questioned. She added that Obama has no interest in the self-determination of Kashmiris, rather he is more interested to see that the US agenda was given full focus in South Asia. But there are others like analyst Lt Gen (retd) Talat Masood who welcome any such move from Barack Obama. It would be very good if the US acts as a facilitator and also in the process provides India an opportunity to move forward.