Anxiety in India over Obama’s possible intervention in the Kashmir dispute persists. Karan Thapar in The Hindustan Times writes:
But such apparently conflicting thoughts often lie at the bottom of many a politician’s thinking. It would not be unusual if that was also the case with Barack Obama. And it certainly doesn’t absolve us of the need to be cautious and gently yet firmly, talk him out of attempting to step in and resolve Kashmir.
The problem is just as we are eager he should desist, Pakistan is keen he must persist. An American role in resolving Kashmir is something Pakistan has always wanted and India has, similarly, always resisted. So Obama’s intentions could affect a triangle of relations: Delhi-Washington, Washington-Islamabad and Delhi-Islamabad.
Referring to one of the co-authors of the new Foreign Affairs essay arguing for precisely this kind of “grand bargain” involving Kashmir, Kuldip Nayar, former Indian High Commissioner to the U.K., writes:
The reported nomination of Ahmad Rashid as adviser on Afghanistan to the American forces at Kabul is a welcome development. He is liberal and has many friends in India. His advice would be sober and not smack of [a] high-and-mighty attitude. His knowledge on Afghanistan is intimate. But why has he been given the responsibility of Kashmir as well?
I have not been able to understand the linkage between Kashmir and Afghanistan. The first problem is as old as partition while the second came up after 1980 when America created a force of Taliban to bleed the Soviet Union to death. Even if the time factor is forgotten, combining the two will be like mixing chalk with cheese.
Rashid’s presence as an advisor in Afghanistan is not a guarantee that the next administration will pursue the “grand bargain” that Rashid advocates, but if Petraeus will be taking advice from him it is one more reason to be seriously concerned that Washington actually will blunder into the Kashmir dispute in a misguided attempt to get Islamabad to address the threat in western Pakistan. In light of Obama’s repeated statements in support of such a move, we have to begin treating this proposal as a real part of Obama’s agenda in South Asia and not merely idle speculation or empty campaign bluster. Once we’ve done that, there needs to be a concerted effort to dissuade him from going this route.