What they say:
SouthAsia put the following questions to regional and international scholars, analysts and academicians about how they view U.S. ties with South Asia. 1. The United States has often played the role of a mediator between various South Asian nations, facilitating inter and intra-regional ties. How do you assess the latest American role in this regard? 2. How successful has America been in helping South Asia build a ‘democratic civic society’ on the lines of peace and amity?
Eminent American historian and Emeritus Professor of History at University of California, Los Angeles.
1. Mediation of any conflict is always difficult, and in dealing with sovereign nation-states usually impossible to resolve, leaving both or all parties to blame the mediator for their own problems. The United States is, therefore, viewed by many Pakistanis today as either “pro-Indian” or “anti-Pakistani,” unfairly, I believe, because we have often tried impartially to resolve major and minor residual conflicts between both nations in what we consider their best interests. Which doesn’t mean that we should stop trying to help India and Pakistan resolve peacefully their conflicts over Kashmir, or over Indus River waters, or relations with Afghanistan. Few good deeds go unpunished.
2. I think we have had some successes, primarily by helping so many South Asian students to learn about and appreciate our own democratic values and the freedoms of open civic society, while studying at our colleges and universities. To date India has been much more successful than Pakistan in establishing a democratic civic society. Indians mostly attribute that success to the wisdom of their first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, but Pakistan’s Quaid-i-Azam, M.A. Jinnah, also believed in those virtuous values, and hopefully more Pakistanis will someday learn to emulate his democratic faith in civic freedoms and human rights. Few people in either country credit us for their wisdom or virtues, though many like to blame us for South Asia’s misery and pain.
Senior Indian politician and former Minister for Defence, Finance and External Affairs.
1. The basic assertion that the “U.S. has often played the role of a mediator between various South Asian nations, facilitating inter and intra-regional ties” is faulty, principally because the assumption that U.S. actions are motivated by altruism is totally wrong. They are, have always been and will be governed by their own national interests which is how it should be, for this is not a value judgment, it is an assessment of a reality.
2. That being so, U.S. action(s) can simply not promote “democratic civic” societies; rather the reverse to my mind for the natural impulses and growth of society in South Asia get impeded.
Scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC. He is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana -Champaign, where he served as the director of the Program in South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
1. The U.S. retains considerable leverage in bilateral relations with several nations of South Asia. It has used its influence with governments in New Delhi, Islamabad and Kabul to avert larger confrontations. But its role in providing effective mediation between nations has been limited to crisis circumstances such as when it intervened successfully to arrange a stand-down of forces with India and Pakistan in 2003. It also played a role in defusing the Kargil crisis in 1999. The U.S. has far less to show for its efforts to encourage progress on long-standing disputes such as Kashmir and the Siachen Glacier. On Kashmir, India has regularly