Bartering Kashmir Away

India has held on to a consistent position on J&K (Jammu & Kashmir) State for the past 62 years, despite international criticism and U.N. pressures. Not to say anything about serious attacks by Pakistan, and sometimes by the U.S. in a circumspect manner.

But that position is under a severe test now.

Should India relax its position on J&K, giving in to pressure from the U.S. which in return might offer to support India’s bid for a seat on the high table – the United Nations Security Council with potentially veto powers ?

Not at all. I do not think India will yield to pressure from President Obama. Pressure has been applied by the U.S. in many ways and at many times, irrespective of what both sides choose to say publicly. No one is fooled by diplomatic lingo or jumbo mumbo. A Democratic Party President is more likely to apply pressure on India, rather than collaborate with India, and it has not taken much time for India to realise this fact. Pressure is going to be applied during the forthcoming trip of President Obama to India, who only cares about U.S. interests. If India goes soft on Kashmir, that would help seal the control of Pakistan on this critical border state, and Pakistan would agree to cooperate more closely with the U.S. in eliminating the Taliban and other terrorist outfits in North Western Pakistan and Afghanistan. This seems to the short-sighted objective of the U.S.

But President Obama has no real experience of working with Indian government leadership, which can easily turn stubborn when their entrenched positions are challenged. Especially, when they come from the Congress Party. So, I do not think the U.S. will succeed. India will rather forego the UNSC seat than give away Kashmir. It will never happen, the Indian people will not pardon any such government or party which acquiesces to U.S. or any international pressures. And, that too, when India is already the envy of the world in terms of its growing economic might.

President Obama will do well to learn from the Indian experiences in handling the global financial melt-down without so much as a frown, with its measured approach. He will learn how we exercise our enormous patience. He needs to understand how a democracy operates outside of the U.S. He has to see for himself how an ancient civilization has transformed itself into a modern service economy and how it is willing to collaborate with America in a non-threatening manner. He needs to understand why we chose to remain as a balanced nation with equitable interests around the world, than getting polarized. He will learn that Indians will remain as friends of the U.S. for the most part, if the U.S. learns to respect the aspirations and ambitions of the world’s single largest youngster population of nearly 600 million. Because these are the folks who are most influenced by the U.S. culture and customs.

So, Kashmir as an angle to be pursued is a strict no, no. When Pakistan has taken 2 years to even properly address Indian concerns on the 26/11 Mumbai massacre, it would be the most inappropriate thing to do and could turn out to be a deal-breaker if broached strongly. President Obama should be happy with the fighter aircraft deal of USD 10B.


Vijay Srinivasan
9th Oct 2010


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