Obama Must Encourage Kashmir-talks: US Services Chief3 February 2010
The Economic Times
New Delhi: A top US military commander has spoken in favour of American intervention on Kashmir saying improved relationship between India and Pakistan is important to the success of the US war in the Af-Pak region. US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen said the Obama administration should encourage back channel talks between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. 'As part of our long-term regional approach, we should welcome all steps these important nations (India and Pakistan) take to regenerate their ‘back channel’ process on Kashmir,’’ Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. India has not taken kindly to suggestions of an intervention on the Kashmir issue and considers the matter a bilateral issue between New Delhi and Islamabad. Even the US in public statements has always endorsed the Indian line. However, Admiral Mullen told US Senators that US efforts in the region were complicated by the “animosity and mistrust” between Pakistan and India. “Yet India and Pakistan must both be our partners for the long term. Bilateral military relationships are an essential component in a wide array of cooperative activities,” he said. 'We must recognise this and address it as part of our policy. While we acknowledge the sovereign right of India and Pakistan to pursue their own foreign policies, we must demonstrate our desire for continued and long-term partnership with each, and offer our help to improve confidence and understanding between them in a manner that builds long-term stability across the wider region of South Asia,” Admiral Mullen said. These remarks come amid reports that Lashkar-e-Toiba might be planning a major attack in India. CIA director Leon Panetta told US lawmakers that another strike would undermine US efforts in Pakistan as it would lead to an increase in tension between India and Pakistan “A particular concern is Lashkar-e-Toiba which, if it should conduct an attack against India, could very well undermine our efforts in Pakistan,” Mr Panetta said in remarks that support Admiral Mullen’s conclusions on Indo-Pak ties and US efforts in the Af-Pak region. Mr Panetta was appearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence where he also flagged the concern of al-Qaeda attacks on the United States. The US intelligence agencies say that another attempted terrorist attack on the US in the coming months is certain with al-Qaeda remaining the top security threat. Mr Panetta maintained terrorists were pursuing an effort to try to strike at the US in three ways. The first effort included deploying individuals like Zazi and LeT operative David Coleman Headley in the country and the second by using terrorists who had “clean credentials” like Abdulmutallab. “And the third is the loner, an individual like Hasan (Texas military base shooter) who, out of self-radicalisation, decides that the moment has come to engage in an attack by himself,” Mr Panetta said. Admiral Mullen also said threats to US national security from al-Qaeda and affiliated movements in the Af-Pak region remained real. 'We require a stable and reasonably secure Afghanistan and Pakistan - inhospitable to al-Qaeda’s senior leadership, capable of self defence against internal extremist threats and contributors to regional stability,” he said.