Give ’em Kashmir, for stability’s sake

To believe that an American tilt against India will stabilise Pakistan is to ignore the new realities

As expected, some commentators have begun suggesting that the way for the US to regain influence in Pakistan is to “tilt” towards its ‘national security’ interests by, you guessed it, rethinking Washington’s India policy. Never mind that much of the assistance that the US has transferred to the Pakistani military establishment is already doing exactly that. Even amid all the turmoil after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, the United States found it appropriate to announce the sale of F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan.

Now Kaveh Afrasiabi cannot be ignorant of all this. So when he calls for Washington to rethink its India policy, what he really means is that the US must take Pakistan’s side over Kashmir.

Bhutto never criticized U.S. policy that seemed to elevate India in the region, thus many in the Pakistani military elite saw her in a negative light.

Bhutto’s assassination has tipped the scales in favor of the ruling politico-military elite focused on national (security) interests. The latter’s overriding concern now is to have some breathing space domestically.

The United States needs to seriously consider recasting its India policy in favor of a more balanced approach, while steering clear of Pakistan’s domestic politics. Otherwise, the United States risks further alienation of Pakistan’s political elite. [SFGate]

Dr Afrasiabi is wrong on several counts: there is no reason to believe that appeasing the politico-military elite will stabilise Pakistan. As the American media is discovering belatedly, the crisis runs deeper. And more than rethinking its India policy, American politicians, officials and commentators would do much better not to engage in loose talk about snatching Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. That worries the politico-military establishment a lot more than Kashmir.

It is amazing how Dr Afrasiabi overlooks the costs of rethinking. Surely, he doesn’t expect such a policy change to be inexpensive to Washington?

9 thoughts on “Give ’em Kashmir, for stability’s sake”

  1. The author is a known looseball, rivalling our own Praful Bidwai.

    His preachiness and divorce from reality in places like the ‘Asia Times’ said it all long ago. I’d be surprised if anybody who matters in policymaking circles takes him seriously.

    Just my 2 paisa. Have a nice day.

  2. no, we should most definitely not promote giving ’em Kashmir. India is a far more important ally even with the prospect of an unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan. We need to stop pandering to these hysterical Muslim countries.

    An alliance with India is incredibly important to our future as they act as the perfect counterweight to China. We’ve always had good relations with India, but we’ve never had good relations with Pakistan and never will.

  3. Thats exactly the kind of ostrich-like attitude that has influenced their foreign policy in bits and pieces.

    BTW, whats your stand on trifurcation of Kashmir, as a measure to isolate the politico-military problems in the valley from harming Leh and Jammu regions?

  4. NotReallyAnonymous,

    In normal circumstances, I think decentralisation of administration is a good idea. In J&K circumstances are hardly ordinary: especially because the trifurcation, being on religious grounds, will hand a victory to intolerance. It will also be perceived as being carried out on Pakistan’s behest, at least partially. So I’m not in favour of it at this time.

    Already, the special treatment of J&K is a slap in the face of equality of all citizens. I think trifurcation—especially if it is linked to the silly idea of “joint management”—will worsen this.

    All this without even considering the military-strategic implications of trifurcation.

  5. On another note, the lack of any response for this post shows only two points:

    a. either, that INI readers completely favour giving them Kashmir…hehe


    b. That a debate on this point sounds ridiculous because we’ll never give it up.

    G’day to you all. 😉

  6. As a Kashmiri I have to admit I was seeing blood when I read the title of this post. I think people who recommend triurfication are completel ignorant of Kashmiri history and culture. Triurfication would be a fracture on the idea of Kashmiriyat causing the same ruptures and turmoil that the ad-hoc division of Africa in to nation-states with scant regard to heritage and culture, has caused. The region is already living through tumultuous times but such a good intentioned political blunder would spiral out of Kashmiri territories in to the Indian nation as well. As Nitin rightly pointed out, it is tantamount to kowtowing to intolerance.
    I’m not sure whether anyone in the American establishment will be paying much heed to this clown, though someone has sanctioned the sale of F-16s. There’s enough activity in American media to suggest some part of the establishment is wisening up to the fact that the Pakistani establishment no longer has control over its rogue elements and not just some territories. Bhutto’s assasination in Rawalpindi is testament to that fact. That Al Qaeda or its sympathizers, can now walk in to Lahore mosques and Karachi bazars, Rawalpindi election rallies…..and commit brazenly politically motivated crimes imply that they’re doing this with sanction from some section of the establishment and that the beast that Pakistan’s been nurturing since the 80s has now turned on its master.

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