The Obama “Kashmir trip” is being planned in Washington–and it sends shivers up the spine of Delhi analysts. Political Scientists around the world are analyzing every word spoken by President Obama.
This has not been a good month for India. The fiasco in Afghanistan, the debacle of the Delhi Games, the Ayodhya verdict and now the UN report disparaging. Not good news for Shining India. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is ready to publish a report describing the brutal human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir. The strongly-worded report will diligently take an inventory of all the events that took place in the Indian Occupied Kashmir valley after June 11. The report will prolifically describe the atrocities committed by Indian security forces from June to September. The panicked Indian side is holding secret talks with the top UN hierarchy and will try to convince them not to publish the strongly worded report. “Hundreds of cases of murders, assaults, and torture on youth, women and children are going to be reported sometime any sooner”. The Chinese are pushing the UN to publish the report as soon as possible.
There is copious information available on the UN, Kashmir and Obama’s agenda for it. Most of the Obama policy is based on the writings and agenda of one Bruce Riedel who seems to have found the Alladin’s Lamp in resolving all problems of South Asia.
For the U.S., reducing and resolving the India-Pakistan Cold War before it goes hot is critical to stability in South Asia, isolating the jihadi extremists and preventing a war in South Asia that could go nuclear. Riedel
The Times of India places a lot of emphasis on Bruce Riedel because it suts the Delhi solutions. Bob Woodward’s book, “Obama’s Wars” also has excerpts that discusses Kashmir as central issue which would resolve Afghanistan.
Mr Riedel seems to think that he can impose his agenda on Pakistan and India and eliminate all the tensions in South Asia. Mr. Riedel’s solution to Kashmir goes something like this.
1) The LOC is made the permanent border between Pakistan and India.
2) The border between Azad Kashmir and Indian Occupied Kashmir is made a soft border.
3) The Legislature of Indian Occupied Kashmir and Azad Kashmir meet on a periodic basis to resolve arts and craft issues.
Mr. Riedel seems to think that this is a solution. Obvioulsy he is not aware of the ground realities in Kashmir or in Pakistan–or in India for that matter. The Kashmiri Intifada doesn’t want the status quo sprinkled with M&Ms called “Fake Azadi Made in USA”. The Kashmiris want a real solution–they want the withdrawal of Indiai troops and they want accession with Pakistan.
Despite the threats and drone bombings, the ground realities in Afghanistan spell defeat and humiliation. Naveeta Kapoor eloquently describes is as follows “The recent spate of Kinetic activities indicate growing restless of America in resolving Af Pak or should we say Pak Af.There is one consistent message emanating from the “surge” about the Afghanistan conflict: it will be won or lost in the corridors of Islamabad and not the ravines of Waziristan.”
Various analysts have described the situation in Afghanistan–from desperate to hopeless. “A Proliferation of sticks now”, says that until Islamabad decides to end the conflict on terms favorable to it in Afghanistan: the end is nowhere in sight.
The Indian obsession with trying to force itself to a party in Kabul doesn’t fit into the Obama Strategy for Afghanistan. Delhi knows that Islamabad holds the cards in Afghanistan and in a classic quid pro quo is holding the US to resolve Kashmir–per UN resolutions.
Obama is still drinking the Musharraf coolaid which says that “that neither Pakistan nor India would be better off if the United States walked out of Afghanistan”. The Obama Administration seems to think that perpetual war in Afghanistan is somehow good for Pakistan and India. The fact is that in Delhi’s mind staying in Afghanistan is good for Delhi but not good for Islamabad. In a classic Zero-Sum mentality India seems to think that bleeding Pakistan is good for India. Pakistan faces the spillover from Afghanistan. Delhi faces the backlash from Kashmir and Afghanistan but is unable to recognize the blowback.
American’s seem to know which buttons make India tick. Mention “Superpower” and they will do whatever you want. Condaleeza Rice promised to anoint Bahrat as a Superpower and the Indian establishment went ga ga. The Obama Administration knows that a little bit of ego massage goes a long way in Delhi. He will hold a carrot for Delhi on his trip to Delhi. “Go for a Kashmir solution and help bring stability to the region for a ticket to UN Security Council membership and fulfilling your big power aspirations”. Obama wants to impress on Delhi that what is good for India should also be good for Pakistan. Obama wants India to stop destabilizing Pakistan in Balochistan. In real terms it means an end to the Indian passport for Brahmandagh Bugti and a curtailment of the Indian “diplomatic staff” in Afghanistan.
Mr. Obama will hold the UNSC carrot for Delhi and a “resolution of Kashmir” reward for Pakistan. A bad solution on Kashmir with neither mollify Islamabad nor assuage the Kashmiris. India is not convinced that a stable Pakistan is in its best interests. The Indian Military Industrial Complex is obsessed with Pakistan and a triumphalist media’s wet dream is the break up of Pakistan. The Kashmiri intifada has Delhi on its wits end. A Kashmir package was summarily rejected by the Pro-Pakistan Kashmir leadership which is running the show in Kashmir. The new generations of Kashmiris want no part of India and make no bones about loudly proclaiming that they are not Indian.
Obama is obviously desperate and at this point in time pressurised by the looming deadline of the 2012 elections. Another major issue is the Pakistani elections in 2013 which are poised to either return Nawaz Sharif or a conglomeration of parties that may not be as compliant to the US as the current government.
India’s Hobsons choice is as it has always been–resolving Kashmir, building peace in South Asia or perpetual hostility with China and Pakistan. India has always been on the wrong side of history. It chose Kashmir over peace in 1948, and has been making the wrong choice ever since. A UNSC seat for India may make it pause. As always, it will take the seat, dilly-dally on a solution, delay the talks on Kashmir.
Obama’s sales job would be to sell “Kashmir” as a win-win for India–else Delhi will think that it is “conceded irretrievable ground to Pakistan”. India will try to extract its pound of flesh by brining up “Terror” and other issues. However there is a danger to this line of argument because in actuality it strengthens the Obama argument which focuses on resolving Kashmir.