What they say:

Southasia - - Cover Story -

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?

Stan­ley Wolpert

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.

Jaswant Singh

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.

Marvin Wein­baum

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

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