Obama and his South Asian envoy

January 12, 2009

There’s much talk about President-elect Barack Obama possibly appointing Richard Holbrooke as a special envoy to South Asia. The New York Times says it’s likely; while the Washington Independent says it may be a bit premature to expect final decisions, even before Obama takes office on Jan. 20.

But more interesting perhaps than the name itself will be the brief given to any special envoy for South Asia. Would the focus be on Afghanistan and Pakistan? Or on Pakistan and India? Or all three? The Times of India said India might be removed from the envoy’s beat to assuage Indian sensitivities about Kashmir, which it sees as a bilateral issue to be resolved with Pakistan, and which has long resisted any outside mediation. This, the paper said, was an evolution in thinking compared to statements made by Obama during his election campaign about Kashmir.

Before last year’s Mumbai attacks, Obama had suggested that the United States should help India and Pakistan to make peace over Kashmir as part of a regional strategy to stabilise Afghanistan. In this he was supported by a raft of U.S. analysts who argued that Pakistan would never fully turn against Islamist militants threatening the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan as long as it felt it might need them to counter burgeoning Indian influence in the region. Obama’s suggestion raised hackles in India, and broke with a tradition established by the Bush administration which had tended to be — publicly at least — hands-off about the Kashmir dispute. 

But since the Mumbai attacks, India has argued that any attempt to link these to the Kashmir dispute would be to reward what it has called cross-border terrorism from Pakistan. Pakistan, which denies involvement in the Mumbai attacks, has in turn insisted that the best way to resolve tensions with India would be to seek a solution on Kashmir. So the brief given to a South Asia envoy could turn out to be one of the first clear tests of how successful Indian diplomacy has been post-Mumbai in trying to convince the United States to see Pakistan, rather than Kashmir, as the problem. 

Of course, in the way of diplomacy, it may not turn out to be quite so simple.  India has just held elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir which produced a turnout of more than 60 percent despite a boycott call by separatists. According to former Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar India may be feeling far more confident about its standing on the Kashmir issue following the success of the elections and therefore be ready to show flexibility on the role of a South Asian envoy.  The election campaign was also remarkable for its absence of violence, in marked contrast to the previous polls in 2002. As discussed in an earlier post, this suggested to some that Pakistan had cooperated by making sure that Pakistan-based militants did not disrupt the election — again offering a small window for progress.

At the same time, India is keen to have its voice heard in Afghanistan — it sees itself as an important regional player along with Russia and Iran, and denies Islamabad’s assertions that the primary motive of its expanding Afghan presence is to threaten Pakistan from both west and east. Pakistan,  however, would resent any attempt by the United States to encourage Indian influence in Afghanistan — especially if Kashmir and India were specifically dropped from the brief given to a South Asia envoy.

So if Obama’s team is gong to bring what Slate called “a return to professionalism” in defence and foreign affairs, it’s going to have to weigh every single word carefully before announcing not only who will be the South Asia envoy, but what exactly he will do.

(Reuters photos: Preparing for the inauguration in Washington; new Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdallah)


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India, Afganistan and pakistan could be the focus of new envoy but not likely kashmir..simply because the other countries including US has taken notice fo the efforts made by India to answer all the legitimate calls made by kashmiri people which include opening border for free trade with POK, holding elections and allotting millions of dollars if not billions for the development of the kasmir region.
Obama had made it clear previously when therumor was clinton would be a special envoy..that US will only facilitate if India and pakistan both willing the medling of a US diplomat in kasmir resolution.
However if Kashmir could be the main focus of a US envoy..then why not Baluchistan movement ?? cross border terrorism from Bagladesh ?? supression of people in Sindh ??
But whoever the envoy be or what ever his areas of focus be..one this is clear the Obama administration clearly understands the deep nexus between paki army/ISI and all terrorist outfits..

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

Kashmir should not be the focus in south asia.

If Obama or any other foreign power tries to solve this issue, it will be like curing the symptoms instead of disease. Current election clearly showed that people have trust in Indian democracy. If it is not raised, sponsored and interfered by Pakistan it would not be an issue.

Even the separatists are divided on Kashmir issue some want to get a separate nation while others want to merge with Pakistan.

Everybody has a right to speak but it is not compuslary that everything one speak has to be listened. Even I fancy a separate country sometimes where just I and my girlfriend lives. But I know its just an illusion which is also shown to kashmiris by some of india’s “GOOD” friends. Kashmiris from the very first day know they can’t survive with a notorious neighbor like pakistan.

Baluchistan movement is different from Kashmir, We in India are not saying that its ours. Its an internal issue and if they want to get separate thats their decision. If they want India’s help as Bangladesh did and internation communities think its appropriate, only then india should react on this.

Posted by Vivek | Report as abusive

If the people living in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir have “Kashmir problem” it is understandable.

The Punjabis like Ajmal Amir Kasab and Mohajirs like Pervez Musharaff having “Kashmir problem” is odd. This is a manifestation of Pakistan probelm.

The Pakistan problem is a much bigger threat to the global community than the “Kashmir problem”.

Posted by Victor | Report as abusive

If India was sincere in sorting out Kashmir problem it would have by now after 60 Years of occupation n agression. It simply wants to keep its grip on Kashmir by whatever means possible. Surely the International community understands that this is the most dangerous part of the world hence there should be utmost urgency to solve this once and for all as backed by the UN resoulution.

In 60 years India did NOT get a chance to have peblicite as promised by Nehru? So the Kashmiris can decide what they want.

Pakistan is only providing moral support to Kashmiris brothers who have been on the recieving end of Indian brutality. As India helped the Bengalis in 1971.

Vivek lets not compare you and your girlfriend to a serious issue of Kashmir. Then you want to give others lectures like Ali what is logical and what is NOT. You seriously make me laugh and you think the 70,000 kashmiris who sacrificed their lifes for a independent Kashmir will simply forget that? Those who dies were next of kin of many families living still under the occupation of your coward army.

Further down in your commment you write “We in India are not saying that its ours. Its an internal issue and if they want to get separate thats their decision”.

How stupid so first you admit its not part of India then you go on and say it is your internal matter?? After that if they want a separate state? Yes they do!!!

Are you DEAF didnt you hear all Kashmiris with one voice asking for AZADI!FREEDOM! I guess your ears dont work AND only do when its anti pak/Islam properganda?

Posted by Hussain | Report as abusive

India n Pakistan has already fought 3 allout wars over Kashmir and this is a FACT!

Now our clever Indian friend Vivek thinks that Kashmir should NOT be the focus of South Asia.

What a clever idea ignore the main reason for the wars betwen these two nations which is Kashmir. Instead start comparing the issue of kashmir to him and his so caled girlfreind (u sure u have1 lol). I seriously have started doughting your mentality I think you should go and see a doctor please urgently.

“Kashmiris from the very first day know they can’t survive with a notorious neighbor like pakistan.”

But can survive with a small neigbour like INDIA!!!

This is what you comented, well if Pakistan is a notorious neigbour I wonder where that leaves India?

Mind you by the time India lets go off Kashmir it ll be too late and there will be many little nations the great Indian mother will give birth to just like her best freind USSR.

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive

As a nation, our biggest problem seems to be that we are quite adept at lying to our own selves. Our information machinery—starting from the leadership down to the columnists and the speakers on the TV talk shows—not only swore that Kasab was not a Pakistani but it was an Indian ploy to corner us. In the meantime, protests were “organised” against TV channels and newspapers who managed to interview the Kasab family, who since then have gone missing.

Why this charade, that too at our own expense? No one else believes what Pakistan says. Imagine the battering Pakistan has got overseas and how embarrassing this admission is for Pakistanis abroad, where there are no liars to protect us from the facts. The issue is not that Ajmal Kasab is a Pakistani but that our own government was “economical with the truth.” How long will we as Pakistanis deceive ourselves?

EMAIL: kamal.siddiqi@thenews.com.pk

Posted by Kamal Siddiqi | Report as abusive

I dont know why all these indians are trying to be clever. Why dont they ever admit that there army has done wrongs in Kashmir FIRSTLY.

I mean there are so many Human Rights group who have accused the Indian cowards Army of cases of RAPE, MURDER, STAGED killing of young kashmiris. Only these incidents can create so much hatered in the hearts of kashmiris and this is a FACT!

Surely by deploying your coward army there would not have angered the locals they MUST be doing something WRONG. Which any right minded person agree with me before I finish watch few idiots trying to defend their cowards armys actions as they are have tried to cover the Gujrat masacre. Thanks

Posted by Usman | Report as abusive

Kamal, to add to your embarassment..paki Pm gilani again today said there is no proof that mumabi attack was planned from paki soil !! and woed to start a investigation after proof is provided.

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

In response to the above comments:

To keep the discussion on track and relevant to the post, can you say what you think a U.S. special envoy should be doing in terms of sorting out Afghanistan and the rest of the region? And remember he would be focused on diplomatic rather than military solutions.

Also do you agree or not that India and Pakistan made more progress sorting out their differences when they were left alone without international mediation? They did after all agree the 2003 ceasefire on the LoC, which was a big deal at the time if you remember how much fighting there was there before that.

Hussain, when you write about a plebiscite, are you talking about one that would be held in all of the former kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir? In other words, including the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir? And for what? For full independence, or to choose between joining India or Pakistan?

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

Myra, Not that i side for the international mediation between India and pak..but 2003 cease fire on LOC was a wish of India to make progress with relations..but pakistan has violated ceasefire more than 60 times since then mainly to give cover to infiltrating terrorists.

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

Maybe let’s move this back to a discussion of Obama’s policy choices. This envoy, should it ignore Kashmir?

I would wager yes — as Myra just pointed out, India and Pakistan seemed to make remarkable steps toward rapproachment without the International Community breathing down their necks. Indeed, I’d almost view the Mumbai attacks as an attempt to derail those talks — and it’s been pretty successful.

So I vote for the envoy ignoring Kashmir, and instead focusing on other ways of building trust between Pakistan and India (which might include dangling the possibility of other security guarantees to help everyone maintain the regional balance of power). But most especially, that envoy should focus on building institutions in the FATA to undermine the insurgency’s support base.

Posted by Joshua Foust | Report as abusive

The root cause of dispute between India and Pakistan is Kashmir. There is 1948 UN resolutions on Kashmir that are as relevant today as they were before. The new envoy can choose to ignore Kashmir but forget about Pakistan’s cooperation. Pakistan cannot ditch the Kashmir cause, Kashmir is Pakistan’s jugular vein. It runs in our blood, Kashmir is a dispute needs to be settled.
The 2003 ceasefire was the culmination of what started in desert of Pokhran(Rajasthan) on 11 May 1998, Indian nuclear tests. After which Indian leaders were threatning Pakistan, after 17 days Pakistan struck back with remarkable nuclear tests. Come 1999, hostility increased and Kargil conflict broke out, 2001-2002 standoff took place when the two countries and their armed forces stood in an eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation. It was Pakistan that blinked first and Gen. Musharraf promised crackdown on millitants.
2003 ceasefire was the result of international mediation. Given the mistrust between India and Pakistan, Pakistan will always internationalize the Kashmir dispute. Let the world play their role in resolution of Kashmir dispute.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Hussain – On your comment “How stupid so first you admit its not part of India then you go on and say it is your internal matter?? After that if they want a separate state? Yes they do!!!”

You are so quick to read my comments that you miss some words, read it again, I am talking about BALOCHISTAN, we dont claim it. Kashmir is a part of India and will remain its part forever. I dont know why you guys miss words while reading, Do you want reuters in URDU ?

Majority of the Kashmiri people took part in this election and voted more than 60 Percent, If pakistan does not tries to brainwash them it could be 70-80 percent.

Even if 20-25 % people think that kashmir wants freedom what has Pakistan to do with it. Its our internal problem let us fix it why do you interfere. Why does Pak always internationalize the Kashmir dispute and not Baluchistan.

You say pak is providing only moral support, what was Kargil then, Musharaff denied it earlier and later on Nawaz shareef says Kargil was a big error. Does your moral support included sending army in our Kashmir and then refuse to accept dead bodies ?

If you really care for each muslim country and want to provide moral support, why does not pak interfere between israel and gaza people. I know because USA will stop funding your country and stop military aid, your moral support is only available to the muslims from which you gain something. You are simply selling your support and gaza has nothing to offer.

You self proclaimed intellectuals from pakistan just answer my one question.

Why does only YOUR country is discussed when someone speak on the subject of Terrorism, Nuclear proliferation, Safeguards of Nuclear weapons and such nasty things, why does not India,China or Russia is accused on these allegations ?

Posted by Vivek | Report as abusive

I don’t know why you are saying Indians are —trying–to be clever. We ARE clever. We don’t try.

Much has been made out of Obama’s comments made out of his ignorance on the complexities of Kashmir. The chances of his special Afghan-Pakistan envoy covering Kashmir are ZERO.

Posted by Victor | Report as abusive

As an American, I think the USA should stay out of business of India and Pakistan in settling the Kashmir dispute. So, that means do not send Richard Holbrooke even as a special envoy.

It’s pretty sad, but my country has done so much more harm than good both in Iraq and Afghanistan and as an American, I have a conscience.

I wouldn’t want India and Pakistan to be messed-up too.

Yes, I would like to see the 60-year-old Kashmir conflict resolved and so I say to let the 2 countries thenselves sort it out. I think they can.

And both India and Pakistan have full knowledge of their history about how outsiders can mess-up their part of the world.

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive

Ms. Macdonald:

So you couldn’t find any Pakistani news source or article? Very pathetic.

Reporting on Pakistan without considering the opinion of Pakistani bloggers? You maigh as well work for the Indian State Department.

Are you on Delhi’s payroll? if so please report on Indian stuff not Pakistani!

Editor Rupee News

Posted by Moin Ansari | Report as abusive

Ms. MacDonald:

How can you write about Pakistan without any Pakistani opinions?

It is like writing about the USA by quoting only Russian authors.

The only thing you lose is your credability!

Editor In Chief

Pakistan Ledger

Posted by Aliph Bay | Report as abusive

Who becomes the envoy is incidental. What I would like to know is what would be the brief/role for the envoy? Without that, any opinion is futile. Presuming that it would be only to facilitate dialogue between countries in the region, I think it may have some long term benefit. However, if it were to specifically try and sort out problems between Pakistan, India, Afghanistan etc I think it would be a futile exercise. Pakistan is an ally, India a strategic partner, Afghanistan is the hot seat and all three would expect special consideration. The US would be the only loser.

Obama indicated that his prime consideration is basically American security in the long run. However, one thing that is even more important to bear in mind is that other countries also have their own security interests which they would not be willing to sacrifice on the alter of American security. Its like preaching democracy and trying to convert others. The fact is that it is for the people of that particular country to decide how they wish to be governed and they will resent being lectured to. Its surprising that evn after having burnt its fingers so often, the US still hasn’t learnt this simple lesson.

The fact that India and Pakistan managed fairly substantial progress was only because they decided to look ahead and both sides kept a fairly open mind. That this process is going through a rough patch is disappointing but it will be restarted again. Sooner or later cooler heads are going to make their voices heard through the current rhetoric.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

The views of different bloggers are very interesting. It seems every body is ignorant of Kashmir situation or pretend to be ignorant. While talking about , we must consider which Kashmir we are talking about ? The Kashmir under occupation of Pakistan or the part which is under possession of China or autonomous district of Laddakh or Jammu region? Are Pakistanis talking about plebiscite in Kashmir or are they talking about Kashmir joining Pakistan? While talking about Kashmir, whether kashmiris have authorized Pakistanis to talk about Kashmiris? Just because, they are muslims, Pakistanis assume this right to talk about Kashmir? Pakistanis should be aware that Muslims are world’s most poorest community , all the poor countries in the world right from Bangladesh down to Somalia or Sudan or even Pakistan are world’s poorest countries , and at this moment the people in these countries need food ,shelter, medical care,economic development , the poverty is the biggest enemy of muslims , if Pakistanis talk about poverty removal and infant mortality , they will be doing greater service to not only muslims but the entire humanity including Kashmiris .

The recent elections in J&K have shown the poor Kashmiris need food and development, medical facilities more than jehad or the least they want any interference from Pakistan .

US policy maker should keep the above facts in mind while dwelling on Indo-Pak issues, J&K is no longer an issue between India and Paksitan but the state sponsored terrorism and presence of nuclear arsenals should be main focus areas . In order to maintain peace and tranquility in Southern Asia, the US policy makers should focus on Pakistan, its army, ISI and presence of jehadis in Pakistan, who use Pakistani soil to launch terrorist activities .

Posted by Manish | Report as abusive

Whats the Kashmir issue??? enlighten me!

If pakistan is really concerned with Muslims rights, why are 2.5 MILLION muslims in bangladesh still languishing in a never ending wait to join Pakistan????

Pakistan made formal promises to allow these Muslims loyal to Pakistan to be a part of pakistan but that was 1971 and its 2009 now.

If Kashmiris had no land would pakistan be so sympathetic towards them???

Pakistan sold off portions of land from Kashmir to China, whats to stop them from doing the same to the whole of Kashmir???

More importantly who is going to claim Kashmir few years from now?? independant Balochistan, Sindhudesh, Jinnahpur or Greater Punjab???

Posted by indian1127 | Report as abusive

In response to Moin Ansari and Aliph Bay:

I looked for news reports — not opinion — specifically about the appointment of a South Asian envoy. And no, I did not find any in the Pakistan media when I looked or I would have included it. It would be more useful if you would provide links to news reports specifically dealing with the South Asia envoy rather than making unwarranted assumptions and allegations.

And by the way, this post is about U.S. policy and it quotes three different U.S. news sources. That is really not comparable to writing about the United States by quoting Russian authors.


Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

JUST TO OPEN YOUR EYES:Former British Foreign Secretary: Al Qaeda is Not a Real Group, Just a U.S. Propaganda Campaign.
Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook says:The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive the TV watcher to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US. Cook has previously written:Al-Qaida, literally “the database”, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians. Cook is merely confirming what others have said. Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told the Senate that the war on terror is “a mythical historical narrative”.

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive

The biggest sin Muslims do is to fight among themselves. Being raised in India I always use to wish if I were born in a muslim country specially Pakistan where there are only Muslims & I would then stay away from Hindu – Muslim conflict.

Today I’m thankful to Allah that I’m not born in Pakistan where I would then risk my family and my life to a fellow muslim (Shia or Sunni, I do not wish to disclose my sect in order to avoid unnecessary harsh comments).

GDP per Pakistani is $623. GDP per Indian is $900.

In 1991, India’s GDP per capita was $328, Pakistan’s was $458. In 1991, India was 28 per cent behind Pakistan. In 17 years, India has gone 30 per cent ahead. How did this happen?

For 17 years, four Indian governments have followed what is called Manmohanomics. In this period, four Pakistani governments followed a policy of ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan till 2001 and jihad in Kashmir till 2002. In 2007, India’s GDP grew at 9.1 per cent, the second highest in the world. In this period, it shrugged off dozens of terror attacks including the Bombay train blasts which killed 209 people in 2006.

In the last five years, India created 11 million new jobs every year, the highest in the world and more than the job growth in China, Brazil and Russia combined. Every year, India pulls one per cent, 10 million — one crore — of its population out of poverty. This has happened with a single focus on economy. War, through all sorts of terrorism, and foreign policy has not been our concern.

One man began dismantling India’s Nehruvian economy 17 years ago. He did it not because his party had any mandate to do this from the population: India votes for identity, not policy or governance. He did it because he believed that was the right thing for India.

That man, Dr Manmohan Singh, will go down in our history as the single most influential politician in India. More than Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Atal Behari Vajpayee. More even than the great Nehru.

Hundreds of millions of Indians have a better life in 2008 than they did in 1991 because of Manmohan Singh. Indians laugh at Manmohan Singh because he’s dependent on Sonia Gandhi. L K Advani called him India’s weakest prime minister.

Posted by Faiz Hassan | Report as abusive

Faiz Hassan,

Good post.

In the years to come, we will do away with absolute poverty and stronger media, judiciary and secular middle class the Hindu-sikh-muslim-christian-etc divide will be a thing of the past.

Posted by indian1127 | Report as abusive

—Posting a ‘Special Envoy’ may prove to be a double-edged sword…

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

>>It’s pretty sad, but my country has done so much more harm than good both in Iraq and Afghanistan and as an American, I have a conscience<<

For a moment I thoought you are criticizing Pakistan. Alas, it turns out you are abusing America which gave you freedoms and livelihood not available to you in Pakistan. You have a “conscience” when you wear ur American hat, but you have no such obligation when you wear Pakistani hat.

Same problems in UK. Where the “Pakistanis” born in UK are suspects involved in terrorism of the country they were born.

Do you import text-books of “Pakistan studies” to US and UK?


The Class V book has this original discovery about Hindu help to bring British rule to India: “The British had the objective to take over India and to achieve this, they made Hindus join them and Hindus were very glad to side with the British. After capturing the subcontinent, the British began on the one hand the loot of all things produced in this area, and on the other, in conjunction with Hindus, to greatly suppress the Muslims.”

The students of Class III are taught that “Muhammad Ali (Jinnah) felt that Hindus wanted to make Muslims their slaves and since he hated slavery, he left the Congress”. At another place it says, “The Congress was actually a party of Hindus. Muslims felt that after getting freedom, Hindus would make them their slaves.”

And this great historic discovery is taught to Std V students, ”Previously, India was part of Pakistan.”
The book prescribed for higher secondary students makes no mention of the uprising in East Pakistan in 1971 or the surrender by more than 90,000 Pakistani soldiers.

Instead, it claims, “In the 1971 India-Pakistan war, the Pakistan armed forces created new records of bravery and the Indian forces were defeated everywhere.”

Posted by Victor | Report as abusive

What you have quoted from text books of Class 111 and V is utter non-sense and rubbish. First, remeber there are four provinces in Pakistan. The text book boards of Punjab, Sindh , Baluchistan, Frontier are all slightly different. Yet Kashmir and Northern areas educational institutions have further different curriculum. Pakistan has a fairly well education system identical to the British system. It serves no purposes while you try to state blatant lies, it is not difficult to figure out the reasons why muslims wanted a seperate homeland in India.
As always you are obssesed with 1971 war, remember 91000 soldiers didnt surrender, it was only a ceasefire agreement. Pakistan has never surrendered to India, the military exercises, nuclear tests, Kargil, Border-standoff 2001-02, the war of attrition will continue until India accepts Pakistan’s existence from the depth of their hearts.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

The main agenda of any US envoy to south asia sould be to use diplomacy for 2 reasons –

1.)to get Indian armed forces in to Afghanistan as Indian army is more used to rough terrain comabts and would be efficient in training afghan security forces to install peace in afghanistan and would be a better choice to be put on affensive roles to fight militants.

2.)Get the POK from the illegal occupation of Pakis back to India as pakis have no control in the region and terrorist are using these area to breed terrorists to inflict terror accross border.

Posted by Om | Report as abusive


There are other people in this world who see some humanity in innocent Pakistanis besides those who are of Pakistani descent or directly from Pakistan.

I am a born American through and through. You have some nerve to assume that I am of one religion or another, and abuse me for it, and to question my patiotism as an American.

Your prejudice seems to know no bounds and you and some commenters here have turned these columns into “if he/she is Muslim and Pakistani, then he/she is no good”.

If you insist that I am Pakistani and Muslim, then…poof – I am an instant Pakistani and Muslim! I stand proudly with any person’s religion or ethnic group who is discriminated against.

Yours is one of the basest and meanest of attitudes that I have encountered. And your ignorance is laughable.

I am a very gentle person and believe in forgiveness, but I will sit through arctic blasts to defend those who are objects of prejudice.

You also do not deserve to know my real ethnic and religious background and you would never be able to guess what it is.

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive

Hi Myra,

Here is my brief response to couple of your questions.

Myra: “What U.S. special envoy should be doing in terms of sorting out Afghanistan and the rest of the region?”

In my view, the following are the 3 broad things the US envoy can do,
a) In Afghanistan, the US envoy must find alternatives to drastically reduce the need for American reliance on Pakistan army, such as finding new routes for logistical supplies going in to Afghanistan. The US envoy can also assist in improving governance issues in Afghanistan.

b) In Pakistan, the US envoy must find ways to reduce the influence of Pak army in Pakistan. Which means no funding for new weapons and soft loans until terrorism is wiped out from Pakistan. It’s easier said than done because the ISI sees these terror out-fits as assets to pursue perverse foreign policy in the region. If the US succeeds it’ll not only help in bringing normalcy in Afghanistan but also help in resolving Kashmir.

c)The US envoy must de-hyphenate Kashmir and Afghanistan. Kashmir will be solved as a bilateral issue between India & Pak. On Kashmir, the US envoy can only ensure that the Indo-Pak peace talks are on track and the prospects of an all out war between the two are minimum.

Myra: “Also do you agree or not that India and Pakistan made more progress sorting out their differences when they were left alone without international mediation?”

Yes and No. The problem in Kashmir is political one however, so far the Indo-Pak peace talks have only addressed the economic issues. The talks have resulted in confidence building measures (CBM’s) such as trade, people to people contact etc. Given the history, this is no less feat. But, as we’ve seen, post Mumbai attacks, CBM’s can be very fragile. As a result, I support the US intervention – neither international mediation nor UN plebiscite – in the “bi-lateral peace process” that may speed up not only economic but also political resolution in Kashmir.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive

If you live with the land you got peacefully, Indians are done with Pakistan. No offence, we really don’t care for you.

About Pakistani text books, it is not clear who you are trying to fool.

Here is WEB LINK FOR the entire report of Sustainable Development Policy Institute
#3, UN Boulevard, Diplomatic Enclave I, Islamabad
Mailing Address: PO Box 2342, Islamabad, Pakistan
Telephone: ++(92-51) 2278134, 2278136, 2270674-6
Fax:++(92-51) 2278135

http://www.sdpi.org/whats_new/reporton/S tate%20of%20Curr&TextBooks.pdf

SAMPLE QUOTE -Several authors have identified how the writing of history in Pakistan has been
systematically distorted to foster an artificial identity and ideology. The entire focus of this effort is directed towards proving the historical differences, enmities and differences between Muslims and Hindus and the righteousness of the Muslims as opposed to the cunning,deceit and cruelty of Hindus. A further objective is to establish in the child’s mind that there has never been any period of amity or intermingling between the peoples of these religions
since that is to be made the basis for justifying the demand for Pakistan.END QUOTE

Posted by Victor | Report as abusive

Hi Myra,

I like the topics that you discuss on the blog. Keep up the good work! I also had a question. Is there a way to monitor the comments posted? I noticed many commentators digress from the core topic and engage in a never ending riot of allegations and counter-allegations. It simply adds to the clutter.


Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive

The question here what will be the agenda of the Special Envoy to Southern Asia ?

1. Over last 2 decades, India has been a victim of terrorist attacks launched from Pakistani soil, the world including US has been shown enough evidence , Pakistan is in a great turmoil, the first and foremost priority to ascertain who is in control of Pakistan : whether this country is ruled by army, ISI, or Jehadi elements or a democratically elected govt?

2. Pakistan is supposedly US front line ally in the war against terror in Afghanistan , US has given financial aid worth USD 10 billion during last 10 years , it has been reported widely, Pakistan has used this aid to buy military hardware which has more application in their war against India , a sizeable portion of aid has been reported as pocketed by Pakistani generals , US must ask for detailed account of this aid ?

3. US is considering an aid package of USD 15 billion to Pakistan, Pakistani economy has for all practical purpose collapsed , they sought IMF emergency assistance to bail out , but this is not sufficient, Pakistan needs more help, while considering aid to Pakistan, US must ensure the proper utilisation of this package , must ensure the aid reaches to the people who need it most . Pakistan must be told in strongest term that this aid will be given only if they behave responsibly towards international community .

4. Pakistan must be sternly told that they are ordinary citizens on the world, they are not the sole representative of muslims world over , they should mind their own business , by harping the muslim cause , they are doing more harm to muslims, if they are so concerned about muslims, they should bear in mind poverty is the biggest enemy of muslims, muslims are world’s most poorest community , even muslims in Pakistan are very poor , Pakistan should work to alleviate poverty rather than raising the bogey of jehad .

5. Pakistan has a great stockpile of nuclear weapons, the effort of US to ensure that they do not fall in jehadi hands . Moreover, US should take immediate steps to prevent illegal transfer of nuclear technology to other rogue states . The illegal trade and its traders should be immediately arrested proper steps should be taken to prevent use of nuclear technology.

Posted by Manish | Report as abusive


Thanks for your comment. I’m looking at ways of tightening up on comments to make sure only those relevant to the post get published. I agree that those that veer off topic are unhelpful.


Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

Fazaal ,Glad you have only kind words for your mother land. Indian muslims are as Indian as any others.

Kamal Siddiqi, I’m worried for your safety in your mother land. Please change or leave.

Usmaan, Ali and Hussein, with your blessings, entire Pakistan will be Talibanized soon. Recent spine chilling diktat forcing Pakistani girls to marry only Taliban goons, to stop women from going to to school, work or to bazaar unaccompanied heraldsanewera. You will turn Kashmir into another lawless land churning out killers. In 1971 you killed 3million Bangladeshis.
Its relevant to keep history in the back ground when discussing any India related issues, since this is an ancient land and kept its age old spirituality still alive and modern; ever embracing new faiths and thus providing spiritual leadership to the world. Some of India’s neighbors keep rewarding themselves calling equals to India. American readers -remember- with due respect Cuba and Venezuela can not compare themselves with USA, not definitely as equals.

Posted by Azad DP | Report as abusive

If we want to believe that what india is saying about Pakistan in true, then it means that all Americans and other western countries are fool to give billions of aid to Pakistan. AHHHHH.
If these idiot stop watching TV (their own news channel) then only they will see the truth.
Again, if what is said on indian Channels was true then why the indian government is making a law that before broadcasting any news permission should be obtained from thier ministry of information…this is an indirect acceptance that news were full of lies and are an effort to earn publicity and advertisements.
During his recent visit in PAKISTAN British Foreign Secretary David Miliband clearly rejects indian claim for Pakistan involvement…. and india is sayin that it has provided evidences…Please stop being puppet and look around you.
Long live and Prosperous PAKISTAN

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive

Frankly discussion about a special envoy is a distraction. This is like believing appointing an “Energy Czar” will solve America’s energy problems.

What matters is change in policy. The reason for tensions in South Asia is because of Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

Japan and China have disputes, but China does not send in terrorists to a Tokyo train station to shoot at unarmed civilians. Malaysia and Singapore have disputes but Malaysia does not send in terrorists to Singapore to bomb shopping malls. Yet this is exactly what Pakistan does.

So far the US has been trying to discourage Pakistan through backdoor diplomacy, but there are no signs Pakistan wants to change course.

Current huge media exposure of Pakistan as the sponsor of Mumbai massacre has escalated the costs for Pakistan. But this is hardly sufficient.

Delay of IMF, World Bank payments to Pakistan citing other reasons is welcome step. Additional punitive measures in diplomatic, military, and economic spheres are needed to further coerce Pakistan. That’s where the policy change needs to come.

Besides above, civilian government should be strengthened. The military hold should be weakened which also requires further weakening of its conventional force capabilities. Diversion of money meant for civilian development to conventional forces is going to be even more restricted and scrutinized.

On the other border Afghanistan is also very frustrated with Pakistan’s use of terrorism.

Posted by Johnny | Report as abusive

“”Azad DP””

I agree with you. Pakistan will soon fall into Taliban hands and will formally admit being the only terrorist nation in the world.

Examples are out there, only if some people don’t cover their eyes.

Swat valley has already fallen into Taliban hands and they have announced that after January 15 2009 girls will not be allowed to school in addition to killing of thousands of Pakistani army as well as beheading civilians.

My advise to YOU “stubborn” Pakistanis is to stop forcing yourselves to believe that you are in a peaceful era.

I hope you “Pakis” believe in karma because it’s coming. Enough of killing innocent Indians and destroying Afghanistan. It’s your turn now.

I am so looking forward to that day that Pakistan’s self created terrorists take over the entire Pakistan’s government and admit to what Pakistan have been involved in the past over 50 years of its horrified history.

“Pakis” when you people will learn???

Posted by Afghan | Report as abusive

Why should US send its envoy to Asia ? Is it the influence it wants to gain in South Asia ?? Is it not a form of greed ?? Greed for power, influence, money..
Every heard greed kills ??
If all the countries had just minded their own bussiness..we wouldn’t have had such high tension situations in the world today..Let US mind its own bussiness there in US..pakis their own in pakistan and India its own in India.

Posted by Anitha | Report as abusive

Dear Mr Peace, I really like your slogan long live prosperous Pakistan , Pakistan and prosperity are diametrically opposite, they can not go together, if any body talking about Pakistan , Peace and Prosperity sounds like he making some kind of joke. If you are trying to make jokes, this is not the right place and forum .

Posted by Manish | Report as abusive

What Kashmir issue?

I l tell you, u ignorant idiots. You call yourself clever and dont even know whats your cowards army is doing in Kashmir. But the problem with you idiots is that you get spoonfed information from STARNEWS so if they say milk is Black you will blindly agree to that!

Kashmir Issue?

Human Rights groups have accused Indian fortces of violations of HR.

Indian army to this day is killing young kashmrirs and simply labels them as terrorists in staged killing.

Your coward army has raped so many innocent kashmiris women without EVER getting held into accountable for their actions.

Your security forces are simply there to impose New Delhis wishes NOT to help the local kashmiris.

There is UN resoultion and promise by Nehru that Kashmir issue would be solved with the wishes of Kashmiris but after so long the only thing that occurs in the valley is staged election just to install another puppet regime and to enhance New Delhis intrest.

The problem with you Indians is that you think everything is rosy on your side, never once admitted that kashmiris dont want the occupation forces there. Anyone with a little intrest in Kashmir and have seen the news lately the only voice that was coming from the valley was AZADI/freedom.

How ignorant of the indians trying to paint a picture of Kashmir as all rosy and one day the same IGNORANCE will lead to your downfall.

Anyway with so many sepratist movemnts in India active today, it wount be long since the Great Mother India gives birth to few more children Inshalah which is already overdue…Let me make one thing clear Kashmris will NEVER SURRRENDER TO INDIAN OCCUPATION!!!

We did NOT sacrifice over 70,000 Kashmiris lives for nothing, either India accepts and has a peblicite or the struggle will carry on with the struggle by whatever means till we have an Independent Kashmir!!

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive

Mr Ali,

Sat Sri Akal. You constantly mention StarPlus TV yet never back this up with justifiable debate. Do you just sit there all day hating StarPlus/India/Indian etc ? Do you do anything intersting in your life ??????

Posted by Jeeda Malhotra Singh | Report as abusive

Guys, is this bickering going anywhere ? End of the day India and Pakistan share the same lingo/food/clothing/culture/family values etc etc. Why on earth does so much hatred exist back there in teh subcontinent ? Here in the UK, Indians and Pakistanis coexist side by side with no problems yet over there not a day goes by without swearing/killing/bombing/hurting others ? It is disgraceful. I believe these forums should be shut down as no change is going to be made whilst we have people like ALI who hate everything from India and others who see Pakistan as a breeding ground for terrorism. All of you get a life and zip it.

Posted by Kamran Mugni | Report as abusive

Let’s put your terms in short… Indians are doing genocide of Pakistan sponsored Terrorists and self-claimed Kashmiris.
We too checked everyone who died by Indian Army guns in our NADRA, but they don’t belong to our country. Can you please check in your NADRA, you may find their names.
The Peblicite was done decades ago, we will do a newer one, please watch your news channels regularly.

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

Miss Singh!

To be honest with I never heared of it but after the Mumbai incident I wantched the International media coverage as well as on Paki channels.

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive

Mrs Singh!

To be honest with I never heared of STARNEWS but after the Mumbai incident I watched the International media coverage as well as on Paki channels. So I thought it would be good to see what the indian news channels had to say and believe me if you had ever watched it.

It makes me laugh to start with its cartton movie style and there were no fair reporting at all I saw and heard the news and it was ALL anti Pakistan properganda. So that answered all my questions why idiots have so much hate for the pakis in their hearts and physicaly cant do SH~T!

No I think the answer to your question is in your question and its for you idiot to work out. Do I do anyting intresting in my life yes I have a beatifull girlfriend in the name of Sarbjit kaur and

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive

Love her thanks

Posted by ali | Report as abusive

Ali Wrote:

“Kashmir issue Human Rights groups have accused Indian fortces of violations of HR.Indian army to this day is killing young kashmrirs and simply labels them as terrorists in staged killing.”

Even if its correct, (I am not saying its true just imagine)

What has pakistan to do with it ???

Posted by punjabiyaar | Report as abusive

—-“.As a result, I support the US intervention…”
–Are you crazy!Do you really trust these neurotic Pentagon bloodhounds???

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

Ali did you watch Pak media on mumbai, some paki channels reported that terrorist caught was Indian and India planned these attacks. One of your channel even said that his name was “Amar singh” and he was a sikh. Now when your govt finally admitted that Kasab is pakistani and they have also arrested 124 people linking to this.

What do you have to say now ?

Do you still believe in pakistan media ?

You also said you follow internation media what do you have to say about this ?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/world/ asia/01pstan.html?hp

Please be rational this time. 😉


Posted by punjabiyaar | Report as abusive


You’ve misunderstood my last comment on Kashmir. Like it or not, American influence in Kashmir already exists; case in point look at the US involvement during the Kargil war and the ongoing diplomacy between India & Pak after Mumbai attacks.

US will not actively mediate to solve Kashmir issue but it’ll also not allow India & Pak to slide into a situation of conflict.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive


—Firstly, there is no such problem called ‘Kashmir’, the real problem is the ‘Red Fort’ where the Pakistani’s Establishment 24×7, hallucinate to hoist their ‘Islamic Flag’ (sic)- what all active involvement would you like the cunning Americans to be mediators i.e. Officially- Junagadh? Deccan(Hyderabad)?
—You state that the US will ‘not allow India & Pak to slide into a situation of conflict.’, maybe not in their present situation & their needs for Afghanistan , but once they are over with it, would they care? remember Kargil, it was before 9/11…any toehold given to US in any territory globally, has proven to be disastrous to that region… they better far off..

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

To get more information about developments in Pakistan and in the region, please visit


Posted by Sikander Hayat | Report as abusive

you have not understood USA foreign policy. the strategic relation ship with pak for the past 60 years is to destroy all major economies in the region. with pak help they destroyed USSR, next their aim will be INDIA and next will be china. their presence in afganistan is also for the same.

Posted by venkat | Report as abusive

nikhil, the very purpose of creating the pakistan by uk itself is for the US to have military base in the region. otherwise how a western type muslim can create a islamist state of pak. it is because of pakistan today, the enemy to the world peace and enemy of major countries in the region is having military base in the region.

Posted by venkat | Report as abusive

To, Anup & Venkat,

I usually refrain from starting parallel conversations but, after reading your comments, I chose to briefly respond. Here, I am only focusing on the external factors that may affect the outcome in Kashmir.

Anup, I disagree with your views. The dispute in Kashmir is political one. No military/jihadi outbursts or economic hand-outs are going to give durable solution in Kashmir. India knows Pakistan’s hypocrisy better than anyone; needless to say, India has to deal with it smartly. Although Kashmir dispute will be resolved bilaterally between India and Pak, the US will continue to play an invisible hand there. Without confirmation from a third party (the US), Pakistan will continue to violate peace agreements keeping Kashmir on the boil.

For me, the real question is can Indian politicians & diplomats influence the outcome in Kashmir in their favor? India should upgrade its relations not only with the US but also with the Central Asian countries. The more India asserts itself in Afghanistan and beyond, the more it’s seen as part of the solution in Asia, in the eyes of the US. Within short time you’ll see the Kashmir solution falling permanently in India’s favor.

Venkat, I disagree with your views. I believe you underestimate India’s abilities and overestimate American capabilities. The US/UK cannot defeat emerging powers such as India, China among others because time has changed. We’ve seen China using its economic prowess to silence the US in Tibet & Taiwan, Israel using its Jewish lobby in the US to bend the rules in Gaza and Russia sending chill down the EU/NATO countries by threatening to cut off oil & gas supplies. Can India take a cue from other countries? There lies the answer how to deal with the US. India must quickly use its military, economic & diplomatic weight to influence the Kashmir outcome ‘permanently’ in its favor.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive

“Without confirmation from a third party (the US), Pakistan will continue to violate peace agreements keeping Kashmir on the boil.”
—It shall be naïve on our part to expect such a confirmation, nor is any amicable solution to the mess already created in the name of Kashmir & be rest assured Pakistan will continue it’s diatribes, irrespective of Kashmir or no Kashmir-
@Venkat’s observation is Bullseye, with retrospection it’s now obvious who were the surreptitious forces behind the formation of Pakistan & for what purpose…

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive


You are confusing between India’s strategy in dealing with Kashmir and that with Pakistan. In 21st century, India needs new strategies for both. It’s smart, not naive, of India to deepen its relations with the US, with an eye on a permanent solution in Kashmir. Because in the past, the US chose to take sides with Pakistan in Kashmir, the US will not necessarily continue to do so now. We know that Pakistan is fidgety. Even if Kashmir is resolved bi-laterally, Pakistan will not give up on its nefarious plans against India. As a result, India simultaneously needs different strategy to reign in Pakistani state.

According to Venkat, the west may have sinister designs in its covert support to Pakistan. On the same token, we can talk about the west’s designs in Taiwan vis-a-vis China. However, with passage of time, the west cannot mess with a cash-rich China anymore. Can India not take a leaf from the Chinese experience? In addition, India cannot harp of non-alignment, like it did in the past, and hope that the world will stand by her when she needs the most. Be it dealing in Kashmir or dealing with perpetrators of Mumbai attacks, India must develop internally and deepen links with other countries, simultaneously.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive


–I am not suggesting returning to the cold-war ways, ofcourse I am in complete support of India strategically allying with the west, but never rely on them, American policies / priorities drastically change according to the whims & fancies of the incumbent President, Pakistani Establishment have mastered the art of fawning them & they are comfortable with the Pakistani loyality & Kashmir issue will be kept alive, 1-to keep India in check, 2- to humor Pakistani Establishment, who need Kashmir symbollicaly to amuse their locals… China is a ower, whereas, on the Global Map, India is still irrelevant & insignificant, no, the Chinese have expansionist plans, not applicable to India, non-allignment was idealistic stupidity.

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

Pakistanies more worried about others problems than thier own. Here are my suggestions to Pakistanis
1. First free your land from Taliban and save inncocent Pakistani people before you lend help to others. Around 400 schools closed by Taliban.
Here is the link to read further

http://www.dawn.net/wps/wcm/connect/Dawn %20Content%20Library/dawn/news/pakistan/ sindh/destroyed-girls-schools-to-reopen- soon-sherry–qs

2. Try to take decision on your own without acting on behalf of someone.

3. Your counrty is on the edge of bankruptcy but you guys are still talking about war and nuke. What a joke?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/finan cetopics/financialcrisis/3147266/Pakista n-facing-bankruptcy.html

Posted by Murgan | Report as abusive

Some intelligent guy had said that you shall harvest what you sow—- meaning what happen in mumbai is what india should expect —-have you all forgotten about the destruction of “Babri Mosque”, have you forgotten about killing, raping and molesting young an old women in Kashmir in front of thier fathers, brothers, sons and husbands, have you forgotten about killing of hundreds of muslims in Gujrat…If yes then somebody will remind you soon… the real terrorist state is only India, which has been terrorizing its people particularly non-hindus sincs beggining of 19th century.. because you call it “Hindustan”, land of hindus. Hindus brutality results in creation of Pakistan. and you they stop doing this they see more division of India.
regarding Pakistan involvement in mumbai incident…just answer why Miliband instruct india to solve Kashmir issue…why the picture of Kasab re-worked to remove his wrist band… why all things found on boat are marked as made in Pakistan. why india has stepped back when Pakistan said she is ready for anything from india…………..The world has accepted that mumbai incident was self created by india itself in order to get rid of Pakistan the biggest threat to india

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive

[…] this month, I wrote that the brief given to a South Asian envoy by President Barack Obama could prove to be the first test of the success of Indian diplomacy after the Mumbai attacks. At […]

Posted by Obama’s South Asian envoy and the Kashmir conundrum | iSawNEWS.com | Report as abusive