Obama’s South Asian envoy and the Kashmir conundrum

January 24, 2009

Earlier 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 issue was whether the envoy would be asked to focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan or whether the brief would be extended to India, reflecting comments made by Obama during his election campaign that a resolution of the Kashmir dispute would ease tensions across the region.

That question has been resolved – publicly at least — with the appointment of Richard Holbrooke as Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. No mention of India or Kashmir.

India has long resisted overt outside interference in Kashmir and argued – with great vehemence since the Mumbai attacks – that tensions in South Asia were caused by Pakistan’s support for, or tolerance of, Islamist militants rather than the Kashmir dispute.  For India, a public reference to Kashmir following Mumbai would amount to endorsing what it calls cross-border terrorism.

So does that mean the end of the road for efforts to ease tensions in Kashmir? Analysts think not. Unlike British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who riled India this month by linking security in South Asia to Kashmir, the United States appears to have decided that by keeping quiet in public, it can achieve more in private.

In The Cable, Washington reporter Laura Rozen – who says India’s U.S. lobby worked hard to make sure there was no reference to India in Holbrooke’s brief – quotes Philip Zelikow, a former counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as saying the omission might make things easier. “Leaving India out of the title actually opens up (Holbrooke’s) freedom to talk to them,” Zelikow says. In Pakistan’s Daily Times, columnist Ejaz Haider writes that “Obama will not overtly offend India by putting in place a special envoy for Afghanistan-Pakistan-India. But discerning analysts in New Delhi know the fine print.” Indian analyst Raja Mohan made a similar point when he wrote before Holbrooke’s appointment that, “although in deference to New Delhi’s objections, Obama might not name Kashmir as part of the special envoy’s mandate, reworking the India-Pakistan relationship will be an inevitable and important component of his initiative.”

And India may actually be less defensive about U.S. involvement in Kashmir than it was when Obama first raised the idea. It has since concluded elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, conducted in conditions of relative peace that many reckon would not have been possible without the active cooperation of Pakistan in restraining militants from disrupting the polls. 

There’s a window of opportunity there that Raja Mohan says should persuade India to embrace U.S. involvement in the region, but on its own terms. “India has no reason to deny that during the Kargil war with Pakistan in the summer of 1999, the military confrontation with Islamabad during 2001-02, and in the effort to pressure Pakistan after the Mumbai terror attacks, the US role has been a positive one.”

India’s terms, especially with a parliamentary election coming up in India, are likely to include a requirement that the United States avoids public involvement in Kashmir. Instead, Raja Mohan is quoted as saying in this article, it should help create the conditions in Pakistan for a resumption of back-channel diplomacy between India and Pakistan that before Mumbai was beginning to bear fruit.

The United States appears to have conceded the first point by quietly dropping public references to Kashmir following the Mumbai attacks. Can Holbrooke now pull off the much trickier task of working behind the scenes to reach private understandings to ease tensions in the region?

(Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the State Department in Washington January 22, 2009. From left are Richard Holbrooke, envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Vice President Joe Biden, Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mideast envoy George Mitchell/Kevin Lamarque)


Pakistan is a peace loving country and its people are warm and friendly…whats happening is that our reputation has been maligned owing to murky picture that has emerged from our Tribal Areas this decade.The world needs to understand that so long as the Kashmir issue is unresolved,the threat from India will remain & hence our army will always be distracted in tackling militants.
I fail to understand why our hypocritical pesk neighbour to the East cant just get on with it & solve Kashmir.It would enable a peaceful South Asia to emerge.Also,I cannot imagine why India has been working to dismember Pakistan through its intelligence network in Afghanistan.Is that what a peaceful country does?

Im sorry to say but while Pakistan has been bending over backwards to enable a peaceful South Asia to emerge,India has always been stabbing us in the back.

Why would you want to do that to a country you are talking peace with? Why?

Posted by Qasim Awan | Report as abusive

Why would you want to do that to a country you are talking peace with? Why?
Ans: Keeping Terrorists @ backyard and talking about the piece no body trusts.

Well let me ask you, Instead of telling india to give up Kashmir, why not Pakistan do the same?

Keeping Kashmir issue and many terrorist attacks India is growing, how about Pakistan.
So I urge unless Pakistan give up Kashmir, it’s Army will keep consuming more of it’s Economy.
Better think before late.

Posted by Blogger | Report as abusive

Holbrooke will already have his hands full with the Pak-Afghan assignment & I doubt whether he will be able to devote his time & energy towards Indo-Pak relations,nor does it seems it’s a subject entrusted to him at present, & I doubt whether he’ll digress from his core task…
Indo-Pak chore may probably fall in Hillary’s kitty…

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

The question to be asked is not whether Holbrooke can pull off trickier tasks of working behind the scenes in the region, -rather, with whom in Pakistan will he enroll, negotiate etc. enabling him to pull off trickier tasks in the region…

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive


Are you saying that the Pakistani involvement in clandestine activities across the border is a one way street?Do you pay no attention to the activities of people such as Colonel Purohit of the Indian army.

He burnt alive 60+ Pakistanis on the Samjhuata Express in 2007…why has he not been turned over to us? Google “Hindu terrorism debate grips India BBC”

Also,India is fanning the flames of revolt in Baluchistan,seeking to dismember Pakistan in the process. While on the peacemaking table with Pakistan,it kindly goes around to Afghanistan & stabs us in the back from there

Not exactly the characteristics of a “peace seeker” now is it?

Pakistan isnt innocent;however the flow of trzm is a two way street,son. You guys are destabalizing our country!!

Posted by Qasim Awan | Report as abusive

Seeds of doubts were sowed in the minds of people in India (all across India editorials have seen whats coming from Briton after its foreign secretary, Miliband’s comments) about what little others can do to mitigate violence on its soil. The strategic partnership with US will not be taking off, as is India realizing that the American influence is waning in not just in south America with traditional enemy Cuba joining hands with vitriolic leader of Venezuela, but in the middle east, a bellicose Iran’s unending tirade against US is emboldened with a strong hamas and Hezbollah having dug deep in the area. Now, countries in dire economic situations may apparently toe the line of USA, but what US fails to realize is that these are the nations that allowed militants to grow right under their watchful eyes. The Taliban that terrorized Afghan was nurtured by Pakistan and now its their (Pakistan) turn to taste their own medicine. India has a direct and legitimate question, “why do we care what the situation is in Pakistan and Afghanistan, tell us what do we gain from you (USA)”. Helplessness on the part of Pakistan, in view of it becoming a victim of terror, cannot be a strong argument that satisfies India’s angry anymore. They are resigned to the fact that USA has nothing to offer to India, their repeated complaints of cross border terrorism failed to ease the worsening militancy unleashed from Pakistani soil. Tired, India will devise a plan that suits its national interest, regardless what repercussion this would have on US objectives in the area.

US aid to Pakistan and Saudi aid to Pak charity are strengthening hands of terrorists both inside and outside the administration. If all else fails to bring the attacks on India to a complete halt nuclear blackmail, as everyone hopes for, will not be a deterrent. Mumbai massacre has made people decide in favor of starting the game, the game of violence. Everyone knows what ones options are when the other cheek shown gets slapped harder. India is convinced that US with all its commitment to friendship with India, remained ineffective to fix the terror menace.

Travelling to India with a song ‘Kashmir first terror later’ will be like playing a 20 year old record to which India would not be willing to dance .’Terror first everything next’ is what India screaming now.


Qasim, have you read this piece by Manoj Joshi in India Today?

http://indiatoday.digitaltoday.in/index. php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2532 2&sectionid=4&Itemid=1&issueid=90

I expect there will be many things you disagree with in the article, but in reference to your comment about India wanting to dismember Pakistan this line stands out:

“Nothing will convince the establishment in Islamabad that India is petrified at the prospect of the breakup of Pakistan.”

What, in your mind, would it take to convince Pakistan that India does not want the country to break up?


You say that Holbrooke will not digress from his core task. But one of the first questions he will be asked on his first visit to Pakistan will be about India’s presence in Afghanistan and its consulates there. How is he going to answer that without digressing?


Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

60+ Pakistanis on the Samjhuata Express in 2007..
Well if you know the name of Purohit, then you should also parallely know what India law is done/doing. He is under probe, and trail.

However when India handed over the evidence, what actions did Pakistan law took?
The same internal minister who came on press meeting and told the lone captured is not Pakistani, now claims he is a Pakistani.

So how would any Nation in this planet believe on what Pakistan say’s and does?

You guys have only one Samjhota express in your mouth, ask us we have many to say which takes entire life of Pakistan to deal with.
Lastly, when there isn’t any Samjhota (Co-operation), then what will you do with having this train moving around?
If you claim your people like (JuD, ISI, JeM, etc) are doing right, then why would be shy out saying what happened with Samjhota was wrong?

Posted by Blogger | Report as abusive

’Terror first everything next’ is what India screaming now.

India was shouting this from the begining, but it was heard now. This what messing up lives in Pakistan that finally it was heard and very clearly heard and aloud.

Terror goes first, then Kashmir will resolve on it’s own, without anyone’s interference.

Posted by Blogger | Report as abusive

—The moment he mentions Afghanistan-Pakistan will slip in India, that’s one of the torturous trickier tasks that he’ll be subjected to,& it would be a blunder if he bites the bait…
The Obama regime has snubbed Karzai soon after assuming office, & it would be a tad difficult for him to disengage India in Afghanistan,

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

Myra, anyways it all depends on the instructions given to him,whether to throw his weight behind the democratic Govt. or the Army Establishment, he’ll have to choose one because trying to strike a balance will surely make him fall flat on his face…
if it’s Zardai & co. then I personally beleive that atleast their intentions to resolve the tensions in the region are genuine…although it would be shortlived & will have to ultimately toe the line of Pak Army Est.

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

Philip Zelikow’s observation is spot-on, & if Holbrooke survives the initial harrowing times, well I have no doubts he’ll turnout to be an asset for India.

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

@dazadp and anyone else who can answer this question:

Can you tell me why everyone in India was so convinced that Miliband was speaking for the west as a whole, including the United States?

His visit came right in the middle of the transition and we have no evidence yet that under Obama the “special relationship” between the United States and Britain will continue. So maybe he was just speaking for Britain?

I’m also wondering whether we are beginning to see a “dehyphenation” between Britain and the United States in their approach to South Asia. Does Britain, with its large South Asian community, have a rather different stake in security cooperation with India and Pakistan than the United States?

For anyone with the time to look at this further, I recommend reading this rather dense piece about the politicisation of the Kashmir diaspora in Britain:

http://kashmiraffairs.org/anouk_kashmiri %20diaspora.pdf

Otherwise, to get back to the subject, what do we expect of Holbrooke?

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

It doesn’t matter on which Line of the, disputed, unfortunate, colonial, artificial and evil entity of Pakistan (LoC or Durand Line) Holbrook starts his mission impossible.

Mr. Holbrook should know that Afghans will never ever recognize the imposed and shameful Durand Line. Punjabi occupation army must leave the sacred and beautiful lands of the Pashtuns and Baluchis. They belong to the other side of Indus river, which is the historical borders between Afghanistan and India.

If Mr. Holbrook wishes to create security, peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia, then he should come up with an idea on how to dissolve the extremist entity and the epicenter of terrorism called Pakistan.

If Mr. Holbrook fails to the above, West with the U.S. at the head will lose the support of both Afghanistan and India.

Mr. Holbrook shall also remember that it is “make or brake” times in Afghanistan, which WILL not tolerate West’s ignorance in regards to the Terror Central of Pakistan any longer.

To my Indian friends: You shall never play cricket with the Punjabi terrorists. It is time to get serious and put these terrorists in their graves.
It is time for eradication!

Posted by kabura | Report as abusive

Forgot one more thing: the Paki-Punjabis should know, since your government welcomed the appointment of Holbrook, that he is the one who balkanized the former Yugoslavia. So you guys should get ready to face the wrath of history and geography. See you in India!

Posted by kabura | Report as abusive

What i dont understand is..what was the necessity to put an enoy for Pakistan and afghanistan ?? is he there to see to that 30000+ US soldiers are deployed in pak border with out a questioning voice from pakistan ?
This question becomes more curious as there didn’t seem to be a problem either between pak and afghanistan on mutual cooperation, since Zardari recently went there to meet karzai..nor there seems to be a problem between NATO forces in afghanistan and pak army/intelligence..as drones continue to seem to be accurate on targets..which can only be so with the help of Pak intelligence…
So am convinced the job of this envoy could be a low key who simply carrys messages between washigton to kabul/islamabad..or could be an agenda to lay ground work for future plans the US has for either India or Iran.

Posted by Anitha | Report as abusive

Mr. Milband’s visit was meant to placate strained relations of India & Pakistan, on the contrary he’s succeeded in aggravating India & Britain’s, these links may probably throw more light…

http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephilli ps/3235431/the-astounding-shallowness-of -britains-foreign-secretary.thtml

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/po litics/article5525152.ece

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/peter_foste r/blog/2009/01/22/david_miliband_too_amb itious_for_his_own_and_britains_good

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

The Indian subcontinent hosts hundreds of ethnicities, speaking 1000 languages and practicing all the religions in God’s earth. There are linguistic ethnic groups- Sindhis, Gujaratis, Bengalis, Maratis, Pathans, Punhabis, Tamil, Telugus,Kashmiris …the list is long. The only ethnic+ linguistic group in the subcontinent that constitutes a separate country is Bangladhesh- birth of which was precipitated by Pakistan army’s genocide of 3 million Bengalis in 1971.

Kashmiri muslims wanting a separate country seems to have born out of sense of entitlement out of events of partition, UN resolutions, etc. They have ethnic cleansed and kicked out the Kashmiri pandits from their ancestral homeland. In any case another intolerant country based on religious exclusivity is the last thing the subcontinent needs. Everyone sees what a mess Pakistan has been.

The priorities are – control of religion based terrorism, as waged by Kashmir “freedom movement” sponsored by Pakistan army and ISI. This should be eliminated.

Once this is achieved LOC could be liberalised. Other genuine grievances of Kasmiri muslims could be fullfilled without redrawing of India’s current borders which includes the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. No need to erect new Berlin walls!!!

If there is a desire to create additional new countries in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region of south asia, then nationalistic aspirations of Sindudesh, Jinnahpur, Balochistan (Kalat), Paktoonistan all need to be addressed along with the idea of independent republic of Kashmir.

My 2 cents for peace and prosperity.



Glad you raised that point since it seems that people in both India and Pakistan are worried about what they see as Holbrooke’s assocation with Balkanisation.

But is it relevant? Do you, and other people posting comments here, believe the United States will apply the same formulae to South Asia/Pakistan/India/Kashmir that it followed in the Balkans?

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive


Thanks for the links, and I had realised that the British media had dismissed Miliband’s comments about South Asia as a diplomatic gaffe.

But was there more to it?

According to this comment here: http://www.juancole.com/2009/01/guest-co mment-afghanistan-cant-be-fixed.html

“the British feel dependent on Pakistan for policing cooperation to address the perceived threat from radicalised youth of South Asian origin living in the Midlands…”

Indian media reports have responded to Miliband’s comments as though he were a representative of the United States. But what if he was only speaking for Britain? Was this the first sign of British domestic politics intruding on South Asia for the first time since, say, 1947?

Maybe I am reading too much into it. But it is worth watching. And once again, back to Holbrooke…

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

Dear Myra (if I may),
I personally think and hope that the “Balkanizer” of the 21st century has finally arrived in South Asia. I as an Afghan, where my own blood (Pashtuns and Baluchis) live in the slavery of a Punjabi civil-military Mafia, armed with nukes and suicide bombers, which is destabilizing Afghanistan, the entire Indian subcontinent and beyond… would very much like to see a similar formula to that of the former Yugoslavia be implemented in South Asia as soon as possible.

He has to go back to the initial days of the Cold War (1945-1948) and the very tragic and unfortunate partition of India, and seek the truth there.
Yugoslavia too was a product of the Cold War and surely there are some similarities with what is called Pakistan.

The question is, exactly how long are these hostilities to continue in South Asia, where people are suffering and face so many huge challenges?
How long will the world turn a blind eye to the state-sponsored terrorism emanating from Pakistan? Don’t tell me it isn’t state-sponsored, because I’m not a student of this thinking and have learned my lessons well when it comes to Pakistan.

Holbrook has to realize the fact that Pakistan is a disputed territory and should be treated as such.
He should know that peace and Pakistan can’t exist at the same time, because the very ideological and emotional foundation of Pakistan is hate of Hindus, which makes life impossible in South Asia. Simply, you can not have a state built on hatred. I leave it to him to find out the alternative options in regards to South Asia, where hopefully Pakistan doesn’t exist.

In fact, Mr. Holbrook will have to clean the mess left after the British if his mission is meant to be successful.

Finally, I welcome and support the Balkanization of Pakistan. Long live the Balkanizer of Pakistan. History is made!

Posted by kabura | Report as abusive

I think that Pakistan can turn the entire Mumbai conflict into a cross border terrorism issue to divert attention from what Pakistan needs to accomplish…stop terrorism and improve its ailing economy. Kashmir is not the issue, and islamic militancy has forced Hindus out of Kashmir over many years.

Pakistan heads of state, including Zardari, were saying, “To our knowledge, Kasab is not a Pakistani”. How long does it take a country to make the statement that he is one, and how does a country look when they fire the national security adviser for being honest. So far, Pakistan has been the reason why there is no peace in southeast Asia.

Obama’s administration could well try to force a resolution on the Kashmir issue, but any resolution will not be a victory for Kashmiri’s, Hindus or muslims alike. Kashmir as an independent islamic state will be worse off and probably would destabilize the region further and throw it into militancy; it is not possible to trust one word fanatic islamic militants say in trying to achieve their goals, because the goal never includes peace but more often involves ethnic purity and cleansing. Until peace becomes a general Pakistani initiative by ending violence and terrorism, it will not be respected and certainly cannot be trusted by India.

Posted by Watcher | Report as abusive

OK Guys,

much has been said, stated and read, lets face the truth. Kashmir runs in every Pakistani’s heart, it is our jugular vein. Many states were illegally annexed by India but Kashmir will always be a different case. Can China loose its claim over Taiwan or Macau? Pakistan cannot loose its claim over Kashmir. There will alwyas be trouble as long as Kashmir remains a disput, this will have to be settled ultimately, now, 50 years or 75 years, through peaceful means, conventional war or nuclear confrontation. Kashmir will need a solution because Pakistan can simply not ditch Kashmir, plain and simple. Thats the way it was, it is and will remain.
Now to the question of appointment of Richard Holbrooke, I dont see much of a difference on his appointment. Pakisyan will have to show unity and strength. We will have to play our cards smart otherwise US will keep treating Pakistan unequally. I dont expect Holbrooke to be a champion of peace, he will only come into action if Pakistan shows a readiness to use military force. His primary job is to keep Pakistan from use of force(specially nuclear) in case of conflict with India. If restraint wont work, they will try pre-emptive strike to neutralize Pakistan nuclear arsenal. Good luck to India, good luck to Pakistan and good luck to USA.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

@ Qasim Awan the Paki-Punjabi writes: “whats happening is that our reputation has been maligned owing to murky picture that has emerged from our Tribal Areas this decade”.

Show some honor and stop blaming your terrorism on the Pashtuns. Not a SINGLE Pashtun have been convicted of terrorism. 95% of all terror attacks around the world are trace back to Pakistan’s Punjab province. The overwhelming majority of terrorist caught around the world are Punjabis.

“Our tribal areas” as if Pashtun lands were the property of the alcoholic British agent Ali Jinah’s father, as if you would belong to the proud lands of Pashtuns and Afghans.

Let me remind you Punjabi terrorists that we the Afghans, the nightmare of Superpowers in human history, will reclaim our lands, peacefully or through war, sooner or later. Rest very assured about that!

Accepting Pakistan is against the teaching of the Holy Prophet and Islam!
Accepting Pakistan is accepting colonialism and imperialism!
Accepting Pakistan against the basic principles of democracy and human rights!
Accepting Pakistan is shame, ignorance, hypocrisy and slavery!

Stop blaming the Pashtuns for Punjabi terrorism!!!

Posted by kabura | Report as abusive

You and I share similar ideas.
Please visit my web site:


Syed Jamaluddin


Any one attempting to balkanize of Pakistan will be f*cked off straight to hell. Yugoslavia didnt keep a nuclear arsenal. Pakistan has more than 50 nuclear bombs and we did not manufacture them to eat.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Kabura wrote:
“Don’t tell me it isn’t state-sponsored, because I’m not a student of this thinking and have learned my lessons well when it comes to Pakistan.”

Who ever is your teacher teaching you lessons about Pakistan missed an important subject: WMD or weapons of mass destruction. Do some research and just type Pakistan- weapons of mass destruction in google. It will give you a sense of the fire power we maintain for anyone desiring Pakistan’s balkanization. Good luck to Kabura and anyone else who wishes Pakistan’s balkanization. You surely will not survive, i did see the after effects of Hiroshima/nagasaki and chernobyl in films and media. Sorry is this seems nuclear blackmail, but Pakistan’s territorial integrity and independence is sacred enough to sacrifice a few billion people.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

@ Umair,

Am I allowed to ask where you live? I ask because I am not sure that you are right to state that “Kashmir runs in every Pakistanis’ heart, it is our jugular vein.”

My own experience has been that people’s perspective on Kashmir is different depending on where they live and where they are from. (That said, you should not feel under any compuction to answer the question if you think it encourages stereotyping.)

On Holbrooke, you apppear to suggest that Pakistan’s approach will be primarily defensive. Do you see anything positive in his appointment?


Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

since cold war era pakistan and india were grouped together in US foreign policy. And the policy was always that of balancing between the two. But with Bush administration foreign policy towards india was changed. India was no longer looked through the prism of cold war and was disassociated with Pakistan in all real dealing.
The fruits of this policy was the Indo US nuclear pact.
The new envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan (and no India) could be a continuation of this policy.

Though on many occasions US influence on Pakistan has been useful for india (like kargil), it has not resulted in any concrete change in the paki establishment policies.Unless pakistan stops aiding and abeting terrorism i dont see any lasting normalization between the two countries.
Every terrorist attack in india will bring back the country to square one.

Yes, pakistan manufactures nuclear bombs not to eat but to export to countries like libya and N korea and to threaten its neighbors. No other country,except pakistan, comes to the negotiation table with a gun to its head . (as said by a Western diplomat)

Posted by chirkut | Report as abusive

i think mr holbrooke agenda is to redraw the division of the subcontinent.whether they are successful only god knows. it will lead to balkanization of the whole subcontinent which will not only have afganistan/pakistan but will have india also included and in the process kashmir will become a free country.

Posted by moby | Report as abusive

@ Umair:
Did some research and am back now. Many books and the recent history tell me that nukes couldn’t prevent the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. Did or could nuclear weapon prevent the fall the Soviet Union?
Is Pakistan, in any sense, stronger than the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia?

Do you think the world will be helplessly watching while Punjabis are firing their nuclear capable missiles and dropping their atom bombs over the region? I doubt that.

Make sure that your nuclear capability doesn’t become an unbearable liability.

Wake up boy!

Posted by kabura | Report as abusive

I live in Rawalpindi and work in Islamabad,Pakistan. But have travelled and worked in recent years(briefly) in Middle East and Africa.
As far as the appointment of Mr. Richard Holbrooke is concerned, well I only hope there is something positive about it. It is alleged that he struck a deal with Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic assuring him he will not be sent to the Hague in the international criminal court if he quits the political scene, this was probably 1996. I am not sure if this is true but still it is a controversy. The only positive thing as you mentioned would be for him to privately let the Indian leadership know that Kashmir hold the key to lasting peace in south asia. I fail to understand why the hell cant Kashmir dispute be settled by India. They dismembered Pakistan in 1971, fought and imposed war and hurdles in the path of a nation which started from scratch on 14 th August 1947. Pakistan had to spend billions of dollars and invest huge time and energy to build weapons of mass destrution, why? because of India. the moment we ditch Kashmir, Pakistan is gone. Thats why Kashmir is Pakistan’s jugular vien.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive


You are an insignificant speck of dust

Posted by Qasim Awan | Report as abusive


I want to believe that India wants to be peaceful however I am pessimistic because of what its activities are in Afghanistan.

I dont need to elaborate on this,because it has been done already by your unprofessional & petulant colleague Sanjeev Miglani.Have you read his recent article? Its called “Strategic encirclement of Pakistan”…from a few days ago.

As for your question? I would say that India should withdraw all its clandestine operations from Afghanistan,which is being used as a launching pad for espionage/stoking violence in Pakistan.The Baloch Liberation Army has been funded,armed,trained & indoctrinated by RAW. Secondly,it would have to abandon the Baghliar Dam because in doing so it has violated the Indus Water Treaty & international law.Our agricultural output forecast has already been cut for next year because India has reduced the flow of water from the River Chenab.Its all part of a carefully constructed strategy to weaken the Pakistani state,if you ask me.

Who would want to starve Pakistani children?Toddlers in the Punjab who may never live to see thier 3rd birthday?Mind you the Baghliar Dam became an issue even before 26/11…so why would a country with whom we are talking peace want to starve us & turn our agricultural land barren?


Posted by Qasim Awan | Report as abusive

makes perfect sense to me m8′s
India is a trustworthy democratic county that we are now willing to trade nuclear tech with while Pakistan remains a terrorist save haven as well as a nuclear proliferater

its only right to reward and punish based on the actions of each nation separately

Posted by Ds | Report as abusive


Talking of how our countries have routinely sabotaged each other will take up a lot of time…but I want to address the issue of Colonel Puroit here.I want to say I am extremely glad my government asked for the extradition of the Samjhuata Express suspects in exchange for the Mumbai suspects…an eye for an eye,son.

Also,note the reaction on each side.When the Samjhauta Express incident occured,there was outrage in India because as usual the ISI was blamed.The Pakistani government condemned the bombing because it was seeking peace.But when internal investigations led by Hemant Karkare found out Purohit was involved,did Pakistan complain?Did Pakistan throw a tantrum?Did Pakistan abandon the peace process? NO!! Compare that to the outrage in India post-Mumbai

It really was quite hypocritical & uncalled for

Posted by Qasim Awan | Report as abusive

US doesn’t have a stick but only carrot for india. so pressuring india won’t help anything except worsening india-US relationship. surely that is not in the interest of US. india also has a lot of carrots for US.
a public engagement with US in kashmir issue will be an electoral suicide for any political party in india. and it will make US hugely unpopular in india. I think US understands this.
so there may be private communication but won’t be any pressure and public engagement.

but holbrooke may engage india’s alleged anti-pak role in afghanistan. i don’t know whether there is any anti-pak role, spying and monitoring is part of the game. disintegrating pakistan surely is not in india’s interest. in indian media even few months ago this is a clichéd theme for the editorials.

i think this may be one of holbrook’s job. to decrease distrust. rather than solving kashmir directly.and it is a challenging job.

Posted by basu | Report as abusive

two more comments…..
1. i think miliband was trying to toe obama line of “afghan key is in kashmir ” policy. whether obama admin. changed that policy or not is a different question.
and india’s reaction to miliband is not only to miliband but also to obama to convey the message “stay away”.
2. it will be a very tough job to convince pakistan that india is not an enemy.
because a theory is – this is not in the interest of pakistani army. the only rationale of having a disproportionate military budget and so much of national importance and support is “the barbarians are at the gate”.

Posted by basu | Report as abusive

Whoever may come this Pakistan/Kashmir claim is vicious circle. We all have witnessed this since 60 years and nothing has happened yet, nothing will ever happen in future.
Indian Army will still be there, Pakistan will keep infiltrating the Terrorists, and Kashmiris will refugee in every part of India for their safety.

I think Mr. Holbrooke has to look at the problem cause and put the resolutions in action. It’s simple look at the commonality of the problem… Pakistan/Afgha borders problems, Pakistan/India Kashmir problem. So fix the Pakistan first and then action on other 2. This is what both Afghan and India expects. So could he go against these 2 or take action against his friendly Pakistan is the Question.

Let’s see, whether he survives or be replaced by Bill Clinton later.

Posted by Blogger | Report as abusive

…an eye for an eye….
Were the eyes closed before Mumbai Attack that all of a sudden Pakistan is concerned about 60 citizens? However whenever India extended an eye to eye contact say (1993, 1999 etc), Pakistan was bending down the face in denial?

Therefore son, first look at the mirror and practice for having an eye to eye contact, and then come for practical.

I can say that currently Pakistan is coming under checkmate and everyone are shouting against everyone.

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I have been to Kashmir, people of Kashmir hate indian army, army has done so many human right violations there, now I think its the time to resolve Kashmir issue by giving the people of Kashmir their long waited right of self determination.

Posted by Jamie | Report as abusive

Salam (peace) to all,

Its not a matter of what India, Pakistan or US likes, all these countries and the people of these countries have no right to speak about what’s in their interest when they are deciding the fate of Kashmiri People.

The only solution to the Kashmir problem is asking the Kashmiri people. It’s they who should decide for themseleves.

How will you feel if the word is talking about its own interests in deciding about your rights?

BAD. you will definitely feel bad, the world has no right to consider its own interests when deciding the fate of Kashmiri people. So everyone who talks about who benefits or what is someone’s interest is a part of the thinking that has kept the Kashmiri problem alive and suffering for the people of Kashmir.

You wouldn’t like to suffer and you wouldn’t like others to decide if you should get your rights or not, so do the Kashmiris.

so stop the politics on lives of Kashmiri people,
simple solution, hold a vote: Pakistan, India or independant.

Whatever they want they should get.
Every un-selfish person in India and Pakistan would agree.

Posted by Khalid | Report as abusive

To all those wondering… Why would India give up Kashmir? Its is already in de-facto control of most of the territory. It is vital to maintaining a strategic defense against a pakistani invasion. Without Kashmir, Pakistan is relegated to invading India mostly by sea to which India has a far more capable and effective Navy. It is the only asian country besides Russia to have a functional aircraft carrier. Not even China has one yet. It would decimate the pakistani fleet.

The past few decades have really helped India while division and instability have ruined pakistan. India is about to become the worlds leading arms purchaser and is about to have the worlds 4th largest capable concentration of power soon while Pakistan has fallen back. Prior to the Sino-Indian war I would have definitely stated that Pakistan could have captured and decimated India. No more now. Even with Pakistans nuclear arsenal, it is proven to have enough uranium capable of only 50-100 warheads, while India now has enough for 250-300. Pakistan may fire off as many as it wants in a pre-emptive strike but you can guarantee that should India survive and its likely it will, Pakistan would cease to exist.

Look up on Wikipedia, India maintains the worlds 3rd largest army, 4th largest airforce and 5th largest navy with blue-water capabilities and is the only asian nation besides russia to have an aircraft carrier. 20 years of political instability, military infighting, terrorist attacks have left Pakistan a shell of its former self. Hence the defeat in the kargil war. Even if China is an ally of pakistan, russia is an ally of india. And both nations wouldnt interfere since its no feasible for them.

I predict pakistan would do a pre-emptive strike, take millions of lives and then be decimated by India once and for all.

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The moment Milband opened his trap in the Taj, it was obvious that he was wooing the Obama regime,although Milband is notorious for such goof-up’s (Russia-Georgia / Israel),that he’s more privy to the possible American change of policy, understanding this fully well, thus the Indian reaction to his comment, actually it seems that it ultimately did contribute to the omission of the ‘K’ word riddle,in India’s favour, the central theme of your Post.
—I wholeheartedly endorse Juan Cole’s perception.

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Interestingly,Milband is being promoted as the future Prime Ministerial candidate of Britain, hmmmmm….

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“the moment we ditch Kashmir, Pakistan is gone.”

—Aptly put, very much the truth,The common man of Pakistan needs to ponder on this anti-India-Kashmir crutch,the cornerstone of their existence,which if pulled away will lead to the disintegration of their identity…& Nation.

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive


Marvellous! Keep it up, Bro!
You stated:
“The question is, exactly how long are these hostilities to continue in South Asia, where people are suffering and face so many huge challenges?”

—To some extent the citizens of Kashmir have answered this query, democratically, thru the Ballot, enmasse by voting, mainly for Pro-India parties (79 out of 87 seats were won by them)
—They voted for stability, prosperity & a brighter future, by affronting the ban call by the pro-Pakistani Hurriyat buffoons.
We sincerely wish that this Paki inflicted miseries on the Afghan Nation ends soon…

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

All, can we try to avoid getting too off track and rehearsing arguments about Kashmir which have been made before?

And to bring it back to Holbrooke, here’s an interesting piece by Scott Ritter arguing he is the wrong man for the job:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/01  /24-0


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Scott Rider states-”the United States needs to contract the services of a U.S. special envoy capable of visionary thinking,” & “Richard Holbrooke as U.S. special envoy bodes ill for the prospect of lasting peace and security in a volatile region.”

—Point taken, it seems the worst fears of the sub-continent are on the horizon & ofcourse expect Holbrooke to do the contrary as suggested by Scott,all over again, ironically, the dumb-wits have an uncanny knack of producing short-term & disastrous results in the sub-continent, Mountbatten is a historically proven example…

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Pakistan army is playing a deadly game of pretending it is fighting Taliban (to collect money from US) while simultaneously sponsoring Taliban.

http://www.bso-na.org/Sana_Baloch/006.ht ml

Jan 05, 2009

QUETTA: The Pakistan Government is providing covert support to the Taliban to capture land in eastern and
western Quetta in order to undermine the Baloch nationalist movement and promote Talibanisation in
Balochistan. Balochistan National Party (BNP) Information Secretary and former senator, Sanaullah Baloch,
said the government is fully aware of these encroachments, but it was deliberately silent because the
Taliban enjoy the support of the government and its intelligence agencies who wish to pit the religious
elements against the Baloch nationalists. The Daily Times quoted Baloch as saying that the government
had failed to establish its writ in Quetta, where the Taliban and their supporters were consolidating the


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