Obama Told To Refrain From Mediation Over Kashmir

16 December 2008
The Hindu


Washington DC: President-elect Barack Obama has been told to refrain from promoting the idea of direct US mediation between India and Pakistan over Kashmir by senior American analysts, who say any such move could 'backfire.' Such a mediation 'could backfire by raising unrealistic expectations for a favourable settlement among Pakistanis, thereby fuelling Islamabad's support for militants in hopes of pushing a hard-line agenda,' analysts Lisa Curtis and Walter Lohman in a piece titled 'Stiffening Pakistan's Resolve Against Terrorism: A Memo to President-elect Obama'. 'Your recent assertion that the US should try to help resolve the Kashmir issue so that Pakistan can focus on reining in militancy on its Afghan border is misguided,' they told Obama who will be sworn in as the 44th US president on January 20. Former President Gen Pervez Musharraf initiated the Kargil incursion into Kashmir in 1999 precisely to raise the profile of the Kashmir issue and encourage international mediation, they said in this context. They said developing an effective policy toward Pakistan will be one of the most immediate challenges facing the Obama's administration. 'During the campaign, you (Obama) rightly pledged to support Pakistan's nascent democratic government and to convince the military establishment to shift its focus away from India and toward militants within Pakistan's own borders that threaten to destabilise the country,' they said. The duo asked Obama to convince the Pakistani military leadership that Pakistan's national security interests are no longer served by supporting extremists, whether they operate in Afghanistan or India.