Kashmir Fixation Of Pakistan And Obama

Kashmir Fixation Of Pakistan And Obama

10 November 2013
The New Indian Express
V. Sudarshan

Chennai: In his book, Magnificient Delusions, a former Pakistani ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, has apparently divulged that four years ago, even as drones had stepped up strikes within Pakistan, President Barack Obama had offered to “nudge” India towards negotiations on Kashmir if Pakistan ended support to terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba. This assurance was contained in a secret letter dated November 11, 2009, that Obama’s then National Security Advisor Gen. (retd) James Jones personally delivered to then President Asif Ali Zardari by travelling to Islamabad. Haqqani writes that through the letter, America “even hinted at addressing Pakistan’s oft-stated desire for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute” and furthermore offered to become Pakistan’s “long-term strategic partner”. Obama declared that he was “committed to working with your government to ensure the security of the Pakistani state and to address threats to your security in a constructive way”. The US President unveiled his vision of South Asia which involved “new patterns of cooperation between and among India, Afghanistan and Pakistan to counter those who seek to create permanent tension and conflict on the subcontinent”. It appears from the reported excerpts, all Pakistan had to do was to cooperate in defeating al-Qaeda, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, LeT, Haqqani network, Afghan Taliban and the assorted other militant groups that threaten security. Obama’s offer has to be seen against the backdrop of Pakistan constantly trying to get the US to get involved in Kashmir. Haqqani claims Pakistan rejected the “offer”, which is hardly surprising. What is surprising is that the US President actually offered such a quid pro quo, that is, if it is true. It would be reasonable to entertain doubts on that score. First, it is not clear if the entire letter that Gen. Jones delivered to Zardari is appended at the end of the book for further clarity, but selective quoting may in fact distort the import and intent of the letter. It would be very odd indeed if the President made such an explicit connection: give up terrorism in exchange for talks on Kashmir. Pakistani diplomats are not famous for keeping things on the level. They are professional distortionists. They have been trying to get the world enmeshed in Kashmir since the very beginning but have not met with remarkable success, except from a clutch of usual suspects in the Arab world. And ever since an attempt made by a former US Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel to inveigle the US into the India-Pakistan-Kashmir matrix backfired, the US has not shown a willingness to try and meddle unless invited by the parties concerned. But Pakistan persists, as evidenced by the recent throwaway remarks of the new PM Nawaz Sharif, who paid insincere lip service to dialogue with India while at the same time welcoming sundry third party interventions. In fact, he is going around saying that without a third party it would not be possible to work out Kashmir bilaterally. The question to ask then is: why are we talking to Pakistan when we know that they are simply not putting their hearts into it? All we say now is stability and peace along the LoC is a pre-condition. The PM is now whining that he has been let down by Sharif after his meeting with him in the US. It would be pertinent to ask: who asked him to meet the Pakistani PM? The US?