Kashmir: Obama’s failure
Views from Srinagar
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From his interviews and speeches, one could read that like President Dwight D. Eisenhower, he also recognized the ‘potential danger Kashmir dispute posed to the American interests’ and global peace. It also emanated from his interviews to the press that compared to other candidates in the election fray he was fully acquainted with the history of the dispute. He knew India ‘reneged on its pledge to allow the Kashmiris to determine their future through a UN-supervised plebiscite.
The candidate and President Obama had little doubt to quote Daniel Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations, “that normalized relations between India and Pakistan, including a regionally acceptable settlement on Kashmir, would offer tremendous benefits to the United States. Indo-Pak tensions are especially dangerous because they bring two nuclear states toe-to-toe; they distract Islamabad from the urgent task of combating terrorists and militants on its soil, and they contribute to suspicions about India’s in Afghanistan.
Thus, the long-standing dispute over Kashmir is one part of a wider regional dynamic that has direct implications for Washington’s ability to support a stable Afghan state and to address the threat posed by terrorist groups in South Asia.” Not only the Obama administration but many important analysts across the globe had almost reached a consensus that ‘the Road to Kabul runs through Kashmir’.
Obama’s concern about the resolution of Kashmir had caused worry in the corridors of power in New Delhi. The national spokesperson of the BJP, then a famed journalist, M. J. Akbar had written in The Times of India (June 7, 2009) “A turbulent whisper is surging through Washington. Barack Obama wants peace in the life of his first term. He has discovered the magic potion that will kill the roots Pakistani activities of two poisonous plants, Palestine and Kashmir.
He has told Israel that he wants a definite route map towards an independent Palestine state by July. July is also the month during which Hillary Clinton is scheduled to visit the Indian subcontinent. In her baggage will be a war manual for Af-Pak and a peace prescription for Ind-PaK.” Notwithstanding, New Delhi not favouring the final resolution of Kashmir, in Washington saw it important for the American interests. Many I experts had impressed upon President Obama to follow a robust role for the settlement of this outstanding dispute.
The fear about Kashmir causing a nuclear war between India and Pakistan had not only become the cause of concern in the South Asia alone but also in Washington. Ambassador Howard B Schaffer in his book the ‘Limits of Influence’ writing about India’s ambition to play major role on the international stage had rightly observed that ‘it will see Kashmir as an obstacle to seeking that recognition and it will have to be more ready to rid itself of this albatross.’
Fearing the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir escalating into nuclear war between the two countries, he also has observed a ‘settlement has become more important to American interests in South Asia and beyond.’ Schaffer is not alone; there are many other strategic experts and Defence analysts who have been vociferously subscribing to this view. But, strangely enough despite recognizing Kashmir as the road to peace in Kabul and a potent threat to nuclear war between India and Pakistan in his second term in office failed to address the issue.
Instead of having ensured peace in the region, during his last days in the White House, it seems his policy of deepening of US-India ties which Islamabad believes is centred on strengthening India’s military power will escalate tension between the two countries. The two countries are already in a confrontational mode with New Delhi reportedly pursuing the