Obama’s Kashmir comments hit a raw nerve in India

November 3, 2008

Barack Obama has hit a raw nerve in India by suggesting the United States should try to help resolve the Kashmir dispute so that Pakistan can focus on hunting down Islamist militants on its north-western frontier — who in turn threaten stability in Afghanistan — rather than worrying about tensions with India on its eastern border. India is extremely sensitive to any suggestion of outside interference in Kashmir, which it sees as a bilateral dispute, though Pakistan itself has long chafed against this position.

“The most important thing we’re going to have to do with respect to Afghanistan, is actually deal with Pakistan,” Obama said in an interview last week with MSNBC. “And we’ve got work with the newly elected government there in a coherent way that says, terrorism is now a threat to you. Extremism is a threat to you. We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis so that they can stay focused not on India, but on the situation with those militants.”

On the face of it, the comments are not particularly dramatic. For months now, U.S. analysts have been saying the solution to Afghanistan lies in Pakistan, not just because al Qaeda and the Taliban are based there, but also because they believe Pakistan will never fully turn its back on Islamist militants as long as it thinks it can use them against India.

Nor are they particularly new. Back in July, Obama said the situation in Afghanistan might be made easier if the United States worked to improve trust between India and Pakistan. He has also accused Pakistan of misusing U.S. military aid meant to help it fight al Qaeda and the Taliban to prepare for war against India.

The sensitivity, however, lies in the fact that the comments were made at all by a man who opinion polls show as well ahead of John McCain before Tuesday’s presidential election.

“As Obamamania grips much of the world, including India, the man who might become the next President of the United States has ideas on Jammu and Kashmir that should cause some concern to New Delhi,” wrote Indian analyst C Raja Mohan in the Indian Express. “Given its vastly improved relations with the United States and Pakistan, India has no reason to press the panic button. Yet it should be quickly flagging its concerns with the foreign policy team of Senator Barack Obama, should he be declared the Forty-fourth President of the United States on Tuesday night.”

While India would agree that a Pakistan secure within its own borders would be good for the region, “India’s problem with the Obama thesis is in the simplistic trade-off it sets up between Kashmir and Afghanistan,” he said.  American activism could backfire by undermining the current bilateral peace process, convince the Pakistan Army to harden its stance on Kashmir, and give a fresh boost to militancy there.

In contrast, Obama’s comments were welcomed by Kashmiris, both inside the Kashmir Valley and among the Kashmiri expatriate community in the United States. “I welcome the growing interest of Barrack Obama in resolving the Kashmir dispute,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the separatist Hurriyat alliance, told the Greater Kashmir newspaper in Srinagar. ”The US and international community is gradually recognizing that resolution of Kashmir dispute was imperative for peace in South Asia.”

So who is right? Arguably some of the greatest gains in the peace process were made behind-the-scenes in bilateral talks hidden from the glare of international attention.  The agreement to call a ceasefire on the Line of Control, the heavily militarised frontline dividing Kashmir, for example, was made in November 2003, before the formal peace process was even launched in January 2004. But were these gains enough?

And how will Obama’s election rhetoric translate into policy if he becomes the next president of the United States?





Ha, What are all Indians worried about? A thousand Obamas and Americas cannot force India to even take a minor decision without her will. What his comments will do is create a very bad impressions in the mind of common Indian. And if he doesn’t care about that, even thats okay with us.
It will take him at least two years to understand India. The sad thing about all this is that we Indians probably are the only people in the world who know how to curb terrorism and we have succeded 80% of it in Kashmir. His one statement has done a lot of damage to our efforts. He will pay for that and this is not a threat but a fact.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

from the time of the independence, kashmir has always been one of the biggest problems in establishing good relationships between Pakistan and India. it has been 61 years and the situation of the two countries and their fight over and their share and right on Kashmir has remained unchanged. both the countries have seen the ever changing governments of the U.S and had always refused to accept any help from any outside body. Obama\’s win and in turn his promises feel surreal because the results that he is hoping are unacheivable. the battle between Pakistan and India will never end as long as Kashmir stands between the two countries. distracting the attention of Pakistan from India is not a solution that Obama will get much out of. India will still remain a threat to the ever growing problems of Pak. Both the countries refuse to step down from claiming their rights to KAshmir. both the countries have neglected their country’s problems over this issue. and if Obama thinks that resolving the Kashmir dispute would be a ride in the park than i feel he is sadly mistaken. the best solution at this stage is somehow leaving the Kashmiri people on thier own which again as i said is a solution that is surreal.

Posted by Madiha Bashir | Report as abusive

One of the most important things one has to remember is that the US and its policies are not governed by a single man sitting in the white house (OBAMA). They have to be ratified by series of people in the cabinet. Just by having a Muslim middle name, and probably Muslim heart, Obama cant do least thing. If he does something over the head or something that looks even sligtest Islamic, he would be shot in his head. Hence, I am not worried about Obama. hite people chose him coz, they new just one Black guy out there cant change a thing, he would be a silent fish among the big fish, a man just to show to the world that US is not racist….

Posted by Vik | Report as abusive

the kashmir issue should not be viewed as a dispute between india & pakistan but the main party to it are the people of kashmir. thousands of obama’s, manmohan’s, musharaf’s, geelani’s, advani’s or other world leaders can not dictate terms for the settlement of kashmir issue. there should be a free & fair discussion with the people of kashmir and a decision accepted by the majority should be endorsed. there is no sane soul on earth who’ll shy away from peace so peace is all what kashmiri’s are demanding for long. the genocide, oppression & suppression, rapes, religious interference, poverty, economic blockade is all what the occupier hindu bosses have given to the people of kashmir till date. i just want to convey to the whole world the slogan of peace “live & let live”. Grant us the freedom to choose our path & inshaullah we will prove to be very good neighbours of both india & pakistan.

Posted by ASHFAQ ZEHGEER | Report as abusive

first think about your own country ohh soory I think
USA is not u r country you are Muslim naaa
That’s why you are so careful about Muslim kashmiries and pakis lol
Indian going to miss Mr.bush to much

Posted by Rahul | Report as abusive


– we can take care of our diplomatic relations with the Usa.. so relax…

It is some idiots like you who work in our foreign policy who have screwed our country.I am not very sure if you live in our country in the first place.I think to kill this enmity between India & Pakistan once & for all we need to bring some creativity & imagination in fixing this issue.There has to be a public opinion which needs to be built slowly in india where we work to give some space for Pakistan to claim some victory.

The second thing i want to see in India is we got to make sure we open 20 or 30 more IIT engineering colleges where we force the graduating students to serve our country in a labaratory project similar to Manhattan Project where we work on a war footing to address our energy needs, health needs & bring in vast innovative projects which can lift our people from poverty. I think the Government needs to work with China & Russia to achieve this goal in a non partisan manner.

As part of our foreign policy i want the congress government to go, They shifted our Non Aligned Status & became pally pally with the US & led us into the darkest moment of our History.The snub which Obama gave to Manmohan Singh should come as a wake up call that we better pack our bags from there.

I would also want to see that there is curbs put on students who need to go to US for higher studies,or working in the US under HI/L1 Visa etc.Infact when the US government retailiates with tax on outsourcing which they have right to do, i want a special tax to be levied on all US companies which operate in India begining with our cool drink to buying their $15BN boeing planes.

It is time that we really move with the chinese far more aggressively who have a consistency in their foreign policy stance compared to the US which is very ficle minded. Yah given a choice we want the RED FLAG to fly in every indian house & beleive me it’s coming to India soon wake up to a communist government here.

Indian you got to change you name to AntiIndian it suits you better.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

First I want to ask all these people who are saying that International Interference should be allowed in the Kashmir issue that how much success has been achived by International Interference in Sri Lanka—> still the war is Raging between the two parties
wat happened with International Interference in Ethiopia- Eritria conflict—-> still war goes on
wat has happened between Narth Korea and South Korea—> still North Korea threatens to annhilate its southern neighbours

there are numerous more examples to show, but wat i meant to say is that its a foolishness on the part of those ppl who are asking for International mediation coz they knw they are much much more weaker in Strentgh and have no cause for fighting the Kashmir Issue, thats why they want to internationalize the Kashmir conflict to gain some SYMPATHY for themselves and proove their cause right.

Posted by Neo-the One | Report as abusive

Pakistan and US should pressurize and squeeze India to make sure Kashmir dispute is settled. Even if it means through military means. India only understands the language of force. Pakistani air force should deploy fighter squadron in north, The Army presence in Pakistani side of Kashmir should increase. Nuclear tests be carried out followed by deployment of missiles. The heat should be turned on India, probably a nuclear war is the last resort. The misery of Kashmiris will never end as long as India occupies it, no harm in trying to liberate it with nuclear weapons. If India relinquish control of Kashmir, all the better. If it doesnt happen and destruction followes as nuclear weapons are unleashed, still it doesnt matter. Kashmiri’s destiny will always be destruction as long as India occupies Kashmir.
Pakistan will have to stand up to the occassion and pledge unconditional moral, diplomatic and political support to Kashmiris.

Posted by Liberate Kashmir | Report as abusive

Liberate kashmir,

If you think you will use nuke bomb & destroy each other you are a coward, if you use a weapon to get your freedom you are a bigger coward. All you have proved with your post is how much hatred & ignorance you have to practical realms of life. Suicide is the sincerest form of self criticism.

If you decide for 3 days to see everything in this world as a creation of God which you love you will make your life better. Squeezing India will not remove the poverty of your people,or you become prince xerex of persia.

Squeezing your mind of your hatred will atleast make your life, your friends life & your family life lot better.If you need kashmir issue to be solved it can be done where you build public opinion first by renouncing violence & allowing people who have unquestionable integrity to allow a ceasefire on the lifes of people.

Get your people to schools & colleges, impart a secular education , enlighten not darken the world Allow the pristine beauty of kashmir to be savored by all.Religion or Race should never be the architect based on which issues are settled. It is people’s will which needs to settle these issues.There are constructive ways where you contribute your ideas,it is the spirit of a people which needs to triumph. Atleast in the 21st century get over your parochial thinking & imagine all the people as one.What did you learn from the election in US,Racial prejudice was won over by inspiring leadership, Keep that faith this world can only be illuminated when you extend your first hand of trust & friendship.

Anyway there are a few blood thirsty people like you who have this deep sadistic joy of seeing people killed to satisfy your humor, honor & false notion of prestige.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

By the way liberator of Kashmir, Get over your US love, Indians would rather trust a Pakistani or a Persian than to trust a country like the US. Their wallet will keep getting richer when they play lamb versus lamb in Asia. India with China, China with Russia , Pakistan with Afghanistan.

Is your mind so bankrupt that you can’t think of resolving this issue when you look at how grateful they have been to both our countries & other asian countries.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

you wrote : “If you think you will use nuke bomb & destroy each other you are a coward, if you use a weapon to get your freedom you are a bigger coward.”
I am a Pakistani muslim, but our forefathers fought together for freedom from British rule. Do you know the history of India and its partition. The revolt and 1857 civil war. Did Bhagat Singh die in vain? Freedom is the right of everyone. Happiness is the right of everyone. The Kashmir dispute has been dragged on for 61 years.
Even in Pakistan, terrorist organizations play the Kashmir card to justify taking up arms to fight for freedom. Why not settle Kashmir?
And yes, I am not a blood thirsty person! not at all. I would like to live in peace as much as you do. Indian stubbornness on Kashmir is causing large scale frustration in Kashmir itself and Pakistan.
Lets settle Kashmir and see what great potential Pakistan and India possess.

Posted by Liberate Kashmir | Report as abusive

Liberate Kashmir,

Interesting !!. I am sure the issue is far more complicated than both of us can imagine. We will choose the wise men in our countries whom we have elected to work for a solution. At a philosophical level the analogy of our independance to equating to kashmir is difficult to fathom, Since the kashmiri people enjoy the same freedom what any indian citizen enjoys both its fruits & miseries of a functioning democracy.There is also additional safeguard not to change the demographic shift through Article 370.The intent i would say from the Government of India is honorable, I think may be they need to communicate more effectively to build trust & confidence with people of Kashmir.

I am not sure whether a 3rd party can dictate terms to both our countries how to resolve this conflict. Politically it will be suicidial even remotely for India & its citizens to agree to a US led peace initiative. I am sure someone like a Nelson Mandela Or Kofi Annan may be acceptable to both our country to see if there is a opportunity to deescalate the tensions & build some trust when fresh negotiations can be done in a fresh perspective.

Some logic are less appealing to me in the world of international politics like India Or Pakistan can have a nuke bomb but not Iran. You understand life sometimes is perception that if you are born in the US or the West you are of Pristine Morals while you take birth in this part of the land we become Immoral or Rogue Countries.

Let me ask you this honestly who do you think has screwed Pakistan more India or the US of Arrogance.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

your post is long and i read it. You have asked me a question. Let me answer that in full honesty:
In my opinion, the US has always tried to have a relationship with Pakistan on merit. In 1947 Pakistan was a new born nation on the world map. Came 1965 and war broke out between Pakistan and India. I can tell you Pakistan Air force was flying the more advanced fighter planes supplied by US. 1971 US assistance did no good, since Pakistani politicians had seriously messed up things in East Pakistan. India took advantage and dealt a severe blow to Pakistan. Even today, I see US has always helped Pakistan in the military, economy etc.
India is a different story though. India could have done much better by building trust with Pakistan from the start. Pakistan had no reason to go nuclear until 1974, after which the PM Z.A Bhutto proclaimed we will eat grass but build the bomb. During Kargil 1999 and 2001-2002 border standoff had Pakistan not been a nuclear power, India would have certainly attacked Pakistan. What an expensive arms race.
To cut a long story short, both India and Pakistan are mature enough states now. There is a potential to develop normal neighbourly relations between the teo countries. We need more people on both sides of the border who can think rationally.
Its not really a question whther India screwed Pakistan more or the US. Its about safeguarding the national interest, whenever Pakistan did well in that we benefited. Wherever came the flaws, other countries have taken full advantage.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

I used the name “Liberate Kashmir” though i post from my original name


(Liberate Kashmir)

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Mediation is working in Middle East as Tony Blair has taken the role of mediator between Palestinians and Israel. Just a day before his efforts helped supplies pass through Israel and into Gaza for the besieged city. Former Finnish President Maarti Ahtisari is another name who has been a good mediator.
Now any amount of mediation efforts will only work in Indo-Pak scenario where both sides are free, open and willing to break with the past and look towards a future.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Dear Umair,

This example of Mediation by Tony Blair has no effect, just by sending supplies across the Border is working for both Palestine and Israel is a mere consoling of Ur own mind. Boss there is no end to the deaths which are taking place there Earlier it was the US government now its Tony Blair…..if u dnt agree to that then get ur facts cleared. If it would have really worked then so many loss of lives could have been prevented… Moreover if u consider only supplies across the borders to be a sign of easing tension then India has long back declared Pakistan as MFN(Most Favoured Nation) and a trade of around $613 million takes place annually…now do u need a tony blair or obama to mediate coz SUPPLIES ARE ALREADY HAPPENING….. also wen u urself say that any amount of mediation efforts will only work in Indo-Pak scenario where both sides are free, open and willing to break with the past and look towards a future, then why need a mediator…if both both the sides are free, open and willing to break with the past then no need of a mediator we can talk ourselves…the way i am doing with u now…. :)

Posted by Neo-The One | Report as abusive

I appreciate you talking to me. But there is no point if we end up all talk and no substance. Pakistani diplomat Mr. Durrani was in India recently. Both Pakistan and India are 61 years old mature nuclear powers. In the bilateral framework even the smallest issues like little dams here and there, border opening, airspace authorization for commercial aircraft, echange of prisoners, limited trade etc could not be worked out. A big dispute like Kashmir will be settled? You tell me ?
Anyways, I only wish for prosperous South Asia.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Hi Umair,

Firstly, if you consider the issues like dams, exchange of airspace are small issues then bro i will recommend you to take into account whats happenning in the rest of the world, even the Uncle Sam’s country (USA) is still having problems of water sharing with Mexico over Colorado River, also there have been constant instances of breaching airspace by US in LAtin America(mainly Venezuela and Columbia). Boss these kind of problems will exist and with constant dialogue will solve …just by linking them to the Kashmir issue wont solve any purpose…try to keep it aside from all these issues coz no mediation can be ever be successful in the KAshmir issue. Its the will of the two countries to look into future and move ahead in Life which will make the two neighbours live in peace and Harmony. And for that we dnt need mediators but able leaders frm both the sides to push the dialogue forward.

Posted by Neo-The One | Report as abusive

Hi Umair,
I read your all comments.Now you guys want a dialog with India and maybe business.One thing really confuse me that how a country like Pakistan ended up like this.NOW YOUR COUNTRY IS OUT OF CASH.THE PROBLEM OF TALIBANIZATION IS ever incresing.
why ur country always need some support like USA in past now china.
And there is no center of power in Pakistan your new elected president can’t even stop American attacks which are killing Muslim brothers .
I always believe Pakistan is destroyed by the Americans for their own profit.
WE ONLY WANT REMAINING KASHMIR(POK 33 %) you can take the population with you AND THE REMAINING KASHMIR WHICH YOU GUYS SOLD TO YOUR CHINESE BROTHERS don’t worry about that we would get that part back very soon.
proud to be indian.

Posted by replytopakis | Report as abusive

hi replytopakis
i have read all your comments and to be frank your sounding like a old worn out nationalist hindu from the BJP the whole issue of kashmir is the problem india must accept its wrong doings by killing men and women and cold blood and being scared to death about the world finding out thats why these pathetic indians try and cover it up and state that no third party should try and resolve it because they might find mass graves in indian occupied kashmir firstly pakistan is able to feed its people and cloth them unlike india which is reserved for the likes of a few rich pigs like ambani while poor indians starve in dharavi the largest slum in asia india needs to start feeding its children before they get angry and have another anti india protest soon look at IOK this year thousands of protests and india trying to cover up amarnath ring a bell ? how do you expect to tack on pakistan when kashmiris spit on ghandi and indian flags lol kashmir it can never be indias pakistan doesnt need to try and take it kashmiris are spitting all over india

Posted by ReplytoGandians | Report as abusive

Obama is right. I doubt Indian democracy on Kashmir issue.

Posted by rajan | Report as abusive

For 60 years no peace between two countries for sake of Kashmir! Who suffered? Kashmir has lost thousands of lives.Pakistan kept on spending for weapons to make her economy in shamble and her politics unstable! While India prospered.Period.
India does not need any help.

Posted by gentalman | Report as abusive

Mr.Rajan here must know that irrespective of change of ruling party,India has same common voice for Kashmir!That’s the democracy.

Posted by gentalman | Report as abusive

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