Pakistan and India; breaking the logjam

June 23, 2009

President Barack Obama chose his words carefully when asked in an interview with Dawn earlier this week why the United States has been silent on Kashmir in recent months:


“I don’t think that we’ve been silent on the fact that India is a great friend of the United States and Pakistan is a great friend of the United States, and it always grieves us to see friends fighting. And we can’t dictate to Pakistan or India how they should resolve their differences, but we know that both countries would prosper if those differences are resolved,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.


“And I believe that there are opportunities, maybe not starting with Kashmir but starting with other issues, that Pakistan and India can be in a dialogue together and over time to try to reduce tensions and find areas of common interest,” he said. “And we want to be helpful in that process, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to be the mediators in that process. I think that this is something that the Pakistanis and Indians can take leadership on.”


During his election campaign, Obama said the United States should try to help resolve the Kashmir dispute so that Pakistan could focus on tackling militants on its western border with Afghanistan. “We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis so that they can stay focused not on India, but on the situation with those militants,” he said in an interview with MSNBC in October 2008, shortly before the presidential election.


The U.S. public position changed after the November 2008 attacks on Mumbai, blamed by India on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group.  Under pressure from India, which argued that any talk of resolving the Kashmir dispute would be rewarding terrorism, the Obama administration quietly dropped any reference to Kashmir.


But has the U.S. position on India, Pakistan and Kashmir really changed, or just gone underground?


It’s hard to believe that the U.S. position has changed dramatically. As I discussed in this analysis, the Lashkar-e-Taiba — once nurtured by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to fight India in Kashmir — is increasingly being seen as a potential threat to the West comparable to al Qaeda (scroll down on this pdf document from CTC Sentinel to see a detailed background report on the LeT and its Jamat ud-Dawa charitable wing).


Neither the United States nor Britain can afford to turn a blind eye to the Lashkar-e-Taiba when its training camps can be used by disaffected Pakistanis from the diaspora. And that suggests that the old “hands-off” approach in which the West tended to view the Kashmir dispute as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan no longer works. It needs to convince the Pakistan Army to turn its sights on the LeT while also nudging India to resume a peace process that might — over the long term — help reduce tensions over Kashmir.


Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Asif Ali Zardari met at a regional conference in Yekaterinburg in Russia this month. But they remain a long way off from resuming a formal peace process broken off by India after the Mumbai attacks. While the Pakistan government has said it wants to resume the peace process — a position supported in detail in Pakistani op-eds, including by former Pakistan ambassador Maleeha Lodhi and by retired Lieutenant-General Talat Masood — India wants Pakistan to take action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba first before it will resume formal talks.


In the meantime, the Pakistan Army is engaged in what looks as though it will be a very protracted and difficult battle against the Pakistani Taliban in Waziristan. So even if it were determined to target the Lashkar-e-Taiba, it would be unlikely to do so until it has defeated the Pakistani Taliban. Yet without a reduction in tensions with India, it is also unlikely to move significant numbers of troops from the eastern border with India to use against the Pakistani Taliban on the western border with Afghanistan.


So how does the United States break the logjam?


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits India in July, and while she is likely to choose her words in public as carefully as Obama, privately she is expected to try to enlist Indian support for U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan — including by moving forward on peace talks. In advance of her trip, she has promised to “create a new era” in the relationship between the United States and India.  Given India’s reluctance to respond — or be seen to respond — to American pressure on talks with Pakistan, that’s probablythe kind of language New Delhi needs to hear if it is to be won over.


The challenge for Clinton, and U.S. administration as a whole, will be in winning over India without offending Pakistan, where people are intensely wary of a U.S.-India relationship that would squeeze the country from both sides, from Afghanistan and from India.










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Myra,A request for you to consider.Your piece uses an oft-used line on the Mumbai attacks i.e “blamed by India on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group. “I submit that this is misleading.The fact is that – LeT and JuD are blamed for the Mumbai attacks by not just India, but the US, UK, France and most importantly by Pakistan itself.Kindly read the statements made by Pakistan’s interior minister on the day of the filing of cases against Zaki ur Rahman Lakhvi and others.To present this allegation as a “he said, she said” instead of saying “the LeT is blamed by India, Pakistan and the US for the Mumbai attacks” is not accurate.Thank you

Posted by VT | Report as abusive

Ms. McDonald has written another piece along the same lines she has written before. Nothing new; she may have good intentions, but she is trying to sell several of Pak lies to the world.All the terrorists who came to Mumbai were Punjabis and not Kashmiris. The logic of this article goes something like this:The (Pak) Punjabi youth are “disaffected” because of perceived Kashmiri muslim sufferings at the hands of India, and they have to be pleased by India handing over Kashmir. If India doesn’t, these Punjabis will indulge in more terrorism in India. Missing in this analysis is the lack of explanation or accounting for repeated declarations of LeT terrorist leader Hafeez Sayeed at public sermons his organization won’t rest until Islamic flag is hoisted on Red Fort in Delhi.Also missing in the above analysis is when Balochis, Sindhis, Mohajirs, and Pashtuns are distressed at the Punjabi domination in Pakistan, why the entirely Punjabi- NON KASHMIRI- cadre of Lashkar-e-Taiba is eager to acquire one more ethnic group, and additional land mass for Pakistan. Ms.McDonald may or may not know the answer, but actually Indians and Paks do!!Ms. McDonald also seems to imply that US tactics (positive or negative) can be used or tactics are already being used to arm twist India. When India was a weakling, through the cold war era, the proprietary champions of freedom& liberty –USA and UK– were with the religious exclusivist state called Pakistan and tried to undermine India for 50 years. What makes you think US has any leverage on India over Kashmir in the year 2009??There is only one way to break the logjam and that is for Pakistan to dismantle terrorist camps and actually stop terrorism.India’s national interests dictate it preserve its current borders including the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Rest assured, Obama’s new “Af-Pak” policy cannot even make a remote dent on this.Every one is motivated by self-interest. Naturally USA feels terrorists who can attack them should be dealt with higher priority. And it is natural for India to feel terrorists who attack India should be given higher priority.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

Myra,The fact that Pakistan still exists shows that the U.S. is trying to maintain a delicate regional balance for its own energy future in the region.They, the U.S. allow just enough blood into Pakistan’s brain to allow it to maintain a sort of containment against India, all this for the sole purpose of containing India, so India does not build any pipelines into the Energy Rich Turkmenistan area.Pakistan in the mean time has been given “lee-way” by the west to remain a migraine and an agitating threat to India, to contain India’s reach and ability to further its regional dominance, Energy is the root cause that Pakistan is alive, more so, India’s need for Energy, is fueling the state of Pakistan to survive.The western powers, the U.S. UK are keep enough pressure to prevent India from expanding its energy network and providing just enough assistance to make it seem that the U.S. is sincere about terrorism.The U.S. is not sincere enough, weapons of Mass destruction in Iraq, well the entire Iraqi army was decimated in 1 week. Pakistan would not take much longer.Pakistan is being kept on life support to prevent India from reaching regional dominance of any kind in the energy field, especially growth of new pipeline networks.The U.S. and Russia will also give India enough support to counter China.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

MyraThe link for op-ed by retd. Gen. Talat appears to be incorrect, when click on it a different article appears.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Myra,So how does the United States break the logjam?- The US is incapable of doing anything ground-breaking on this issue.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive

If the west wants to take a lesson in history then they should read about ‘Kautilya’ or ‘Kut Nity’.No one has ever won a war against duplicity especially if the same coin has two evil and repressingly exclusive faces representing one and the same ideology.On one face of the coin we have Pakistan Army headed by the ex ISI chief Kiyani on the other side of the coin we have Bhaitulla Mehsud the terrorist trained by the ISI itself totally in liason and taking direct orders from the current ISI chief.LET another outfit has now spread in NATO countries and the membership consists of people who are qualified doctors and scientists.You are right US never changes its policies until the danger stands right on the doorstep.As far as India is concerned it can survive up to ten low level hits per year and still go about its business without even looking at Pakistan.The people of India are now looking at the future from a different angle ..Last 60 years of conflict has been a blessing to unite the country against exclusivity a cause championed by the Pakistan Junta.In the next five years we are going to see the building of an Iron curtain that we saw happen in Germany Communism against Capitalism likewise it will be Exclusivity against Inclusivity.As far as people of India are concerned we are going to see some very hard posturing in the coming days quite possibly Mumbai was the last straw in building quiet resolutions against this highly discriminating religion based exclusivity.The question the West needs to ask itself is that are their policies of Capitalism framed within the boundries of the inclusive world or not.If you look at the ordinary citizens of the world and the history thereon you will see that the new revolutions in future will not be ignorance based religious exclusion but on deprivation of material inclusivity basis.regards and god blessviren naik

Posted by viren naik | Report as abusive

USA needs India, India need not get under any kind of pressure, as Indians are not dependent on USA in any way.Pakistan is a client state of USA, and India won’t change its foreign policy for Obama or Osama.India has faced the enimity of USA for nearly 50 years, India can live without any US assistance or its diplomatic relationship.USA should try to please India not Pakistan. Pakistan is a unofficial Terrorist and Rogue State.India is the largest democracy and a future power which does not need USA’s relationship.If USA thinks it can pressure Indians then we Indians should align with USA’s ever growing list of enemies.Please stop supporting Pakistan which is nothing but a Terrorist country whose people hate Americans more than Indians.

Posted by Suresh | Report as abusive

Myra ,The Indian position is very clear , no peace diaologue unless perpetrators of Mumbai attacks are handed over to India as well as the terror infrastructure in Pakistan are dismantled.Secondly, our past experience was not very happy , Pakistan has never stopped short of back stabbing us , there are numerous instances : Delhi -Lahore bus journey was marred by Kargil invasion, similarly when India and pakistan were talking peace, Indian Parliament was attacked . While peace dialogue was in progress, Kandahar hijack of Air India jet happened, and the perpetrators of all these heinous attacks are living in Pakistan under official shelter. Perpetrators of Bombay blast of 1992 , Dawood and his cronies are enjoying official shelter in Pakistan .Why should tak peace with a criminal ? Who is US to dictate terms to us ? Why must we listen US now in the changed global economic scenario when India is poised to become a global economic giant , if US is really serious about resolving Indo-Pak dispute, US should first ask Pakistan to surrender all the criminals responsible for various criminal acts in India , secondly , Pakistan must dismantle terror infrastructure from its soil .what is Kashmir problem? It is a dispute between India and people of Kashmir , Pakistan has lost its locus standi after Simla Accord , has any gallop poll ever been conducted about the desire of Kashmiris, whether they want Pakistan to play any role ? People of J&K are very well aware of Pakistani designs, and against dictats of various separatist elements, people of J&K have been voting overwhelmingly in Indian elections for selection of their elected nominees .As far as Pakistan’s problems with talibans and other extremist elements are concerned, it is the making of US and Pakistan combined , we have nothing to do with this, we as a good neighbour fully sympathize with the people of Pakistan .

Posted by Manish | Report as abusive

Myra:If your intention was to address the Pak-supported anti-India terrorism, your article fell way short. Some points:1. The issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism against India is not limited to one terrorist group LeT. Talking just about LeT due to Mumbai terror attack is a myopic POV. Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) was involved in December 13, 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi that led to same situation as we face today due to LeT. Also JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar arrested by India had to be released by India in Kandhar during plane hijacking in 1999—the hijackers were all Pakistani nationals whose name/ pictures are posted up front on Indian Embassy site.2. The hijacking almost led to Pakistan being labeled a terrorist state during Bill Clinton/Albright Admin. The right hand man Omar Saeed Sheikh killed Daniel Pearl in 2002. “August 16: The father of Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of the JeM, said that Rashid Rauf, identified by Pakistan as a key player in the failed plot to blow up transatlantic airliners in London, left the movement to join rivals more interested in Al Qaeda’s anti-Western message. He said that Rauf was a member of the JeM before he joined Al Qaeda.”All these terrorist groups are known to have connections with Al-qaida and or Taliban.3. LeT, its front desk JuD, JeM, HuM and any other terror group which changes its name like a virus mutates and ALL have to be removed. For example, after UNSC banned JuD, it changed its name to “Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool’.4. @So how does the United States break the logjam?–There is no quick fix solution. US must ask India to do what US would have done if it was in India’s shoes—not talking about bombing Pakistan into extinction but the politically.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Myra,It is fine if the U.S. is asking or even bending India’s arm to bring peace with Pakistan.One has to realize that this is a two way street. India has every right to demand of the U.S. and Barack Obama, that the LeT, JuD, JeM and HuM be smashed and demolished forever and wiped out completely. India should also demand that before any peace talks are even considered that it put its money where its mouth is, that the U.S. especially secretary of State, Hillary Clinton demand that all Eastern side jihadi proxy armies be flattened out of existence and all leaders, at least 5 levels down arrested and jailed.If the U.S., Obama and Clinton are serious, they should talk to Mr. Kayani, Pasha and Zardari and get this contract signed in blood. Without this signed document, the U.S. is not serious about peace, it is just blowing hot air and so is the Pakistani politicians and especially the Pakistani Army Junta.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

well, US can initiate another ‘war’ keeping terrorism as front shield. Probably this won’t happen as US has bigger economic problems within itself. It has to convince China for this, and then it could allege them for terrorism! Obviously there is no big requirement of this neighbour for US. This may be a fantasy though, we have better exapmles of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Posted by razi | Report as abusive

As the terrorist org. LET / JUD et al are secret extended arms of the pakistani army against India, similarly the pakistani army is a terrorists org. acting as a secret extended arm of the US & GB, so all in all, India is nowhere in the scheme of things, if there’s any piece to be cut, then it’ll have to be carved from the trunk of it’s strategic partner – pakistan.

Posted by anup | Report as abusive

To answer the question regarding “breaking the logjam”….Once India’s GDP get’s to about $5 trillion (around 2020), the U.S will start leaning towards the Indian side, when the GDP=$10 trillion (2030), the U.S. will agree almost 100% with the Indian side (about 2030). After about $20 trillion in GDP (2040) the West will be consulting India first before making policy on Pakistan.I expect the Logjam to slowly start clearing.

Posted by Ahmed Mueller | Report as abusive

We will talk to Pakistan if1. US allows 100% free trade between India and US2. US gets India a permanant seat in the UN Security Council3. US “sells” us the latest arms and ammunition including robotics/space/internet/aeronoticsWell, if the whole world (including Pakistan) can make the fools of USA why should we the Indians be the only honest person. Like others, when our purpose is solved, we can always squirm out of our promises to US.

Posted by chal chal | Report as abusive

How can the Congress government start dialogues with murderers of innocent people in Mumbai? USA wants us to talk to USA well here is a thought why did she did not talk to Taliban after they hit their twin towers? Clearly we are out of US calculations in Afghan-Pak strategy and we seriously need to do a reappraisal of our level of trust on America.

Posted by Akhil Singh | Report as abusive

It is not about Pakistan and India breaking the logjam. It is US BROKERING THE PAKISTAN AND INDIA LOGJAM. Both nation’s sissy leaders are crawling under might of US.US has already destroyed, depleted and sent Iraq into abyss. It will soon send AfPak to same depths.Next on radar would be Iran and N Korea.

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

I often heard from Pakistanis this notion that Kashmir is the root cause of all problems in South Asia. Apparently if this is solved then South Asia will be heaven on Earth (forgetting of course that South Asia includes far more than India and Pakistan).I always shake my head when I hear this argument. Most Pakistanis of course will conveniently leave out the caveat that when they say the want Kashmir to be ‘solved’ they mean that India should simply hand over all of Jammu and Kashmir (or at minimum at least the Kashmir valley). Somehow, what Pakistanis don’t seem to realize that if India is divisible then so is Pakistan. Surely if Pakistan has such legitimate claims on Indian territory because of some religious ties then Afghanistan’s claims on all the Pashtun areas of Pakistan is just as (if not more) legitimate because of their ethnic ties. As it is the boundary is not recognized by Pashtuns on both sides (just like the Kashmiris and the LOC). Should Kashmir ever be solved to the liking of Pakistanis, then the legitimacy of the Durand line (just as artificial a boundary as the LOC) would automatically be called into question. Afghanistan would then have every right to follow Pakistani precedent and offer ‘moral’ support for their brethren (Pashtun freedom fighters) battling for freedom from the dominion of Islamabad. As the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for…”

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive