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 Indian Hawks in US [U.S. should stay out of Pakistan-India dispute over Kashmir]

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PostSubject: Indian Hawks in US [U.S. should stay out of Pakistan-India dispute over Kashmir]   Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:42 am

Quote :
Opinion: U.S. should stay out of Pakistan-India dispute over Kashmir
Appeared in San Jose Mercury News, December 4, 2008

Paul Kapur - Faculty Affiiiate at CISAC
Sumit Ganguly - Professor at Indiana University

The Mumbai terror attacks, apparently carried out by Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant groups, highlight one of the most pressing challenges facing the new Obama administration. Though it is officially a key ally in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, the Pakistani government has been unable or unwilling to control Islamist militancy within its borders. Large swaths of the country are now in the hands of the jihadis, including reconstituted elements of the Taliban. These groups are wreaking havoc both in Pakistan and abroad. Combined with Pakistan's collapsing economy and arsenal of at least several dozen nuclear weapons, this is the recipe for disaster.

Observers have suggested that, to ameliorate this situation, the United States should lead a renewed effort to solve Pakistan's dispute with India over the territory of Kashmir. The resolution, according to this reasoning, will significantly reduce the militants' incentives for violence. There is even talk of appointing former President Bill Clinton as special envoy to lead such a project.

Not a good idea
Despite its intuitive appeal, this would be an unfortunate South Asia policy for the United States. American efforts to mediate the Kashmir dispute would be ill advised for three reasons:

First, Islamist militants seek nothing less than complete Pakistani possession of Kashmir. Such a solution is out of the question. To allow Muslim-majority Kashmir to secede from the Indian Union on the basis of religion would badly undermine India's efforts to build a cohesive state out of the multiplicity of ethnic and religious groups within its borders. India has flatly rejected such an approach for more than 60 years and will not agree to it now. Thus, American efforts to devise a solution acceptable to both New Delhi and the militants would, at best, be wasted.
At worst, such a policy could convince the militants that violence has been effective, coercing the United States into bringing India to the bargaining table. This could embolden the jihadis further, resulting in even more terrorism in Pakistan and abroad.
Second, American intervention in the Kashmir dispute would greatly annoy India. After decades of mutual indifference, Washington and New Delhi now view each other as strategic partners, with a host of common economic and security interests. The Indian government has made clear that it considers Kashmir a bilateral issue to be resolved solely with Pakistan. U.S. interference would demonstrate callousness toward Indian concerns on this sensitive issue and could squander much hard-earned good will.

Kashmir improving
Third, proponents of American intervention ignore recent improvements in Kashmir. Left to their own devices, India and Pakistan have launched a peace process and implemented a series of confidence-building measures. As a result, violence has declined, and Indian forces have adopted a less aggressive posture in the region.

Of course, such improvements are tenuous. They could fall victim to events such as the Mumbai attacks, which were undoubtedly intended to undermine the improved security situation and increase regional tensions. Nonetheless, given recent progress, it would be inadvisable to jettison Indo-Pakistani bilateralism in favor of third-party diplomatic intervention.

Observers are correct to note the dangers emanating from Pakistan and the importance of South Asian stability to United States security. South Asia is no longer a strategic backwater; it is a region to which the Obama administration will have to pay close attention, as events in Mumbai have dramatically demonstrated. In crafting its South Asia policy, however, the administration should remember that less can be more, particularly regarding Kashmir.

S. Paul Kapur is associate professor in the Department of National Security Affairs, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, and a faculty affiliate at Stanford University"s Center for International Security and Cooperation. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. government. Sumit Ganguly is professor of political science at Indiana University-Bloomington and an adjunct senior fellow of the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles. They wrote this article for the Mercury News.
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