By K.N. Pandita
President Barack Obama’s point blank refusal of any solution of Kashmir issue from outside, including the US, must have dampened the spirits of the separatists in Kashmir who left no stone unturned and spared no effort and amount to prepare the mind of Congressmen or Senators in the US to categorize Kashmir as the flash point in South Asia. All that long and strenuous effort of lobbying and hosting great luncheons and making frugal gifts of Kashmir carpets and artifacts to the political heavyweights in the US House of Representatives seems to have gone down the drain.
The worst is that the separatists in Kashmir have found, albeit to their dire consternation, the “satanic face” of US diplomacy. Alas if their well wishers would tell them the meaning and import of the simple but fundamental practice of international diplomacy that there are no permanent friends or foes but only permanent interests. Obviously there is no gainsaying that in the backdrop of regional strategy and national interests of the US, the threadbare statement from the US President speaks of Kashmir as “bilateral” and not “trilateral” issue which the two countries should resolve through dialogue. American stand on Kashmir took a definite about-turn after 9/11; with the passage of time it became clear to the US policy planners that Kashmir was only the extended field of activity of Pakistani jihadi entrepreneurs. Much pressure and persuasions were exerted by the Pakistani sources to force the US club Kashmir issue with Afghan crisis and thereby intimidate US in bringing pressure on India in the case of Kashmir. Washington did try the linkage but only half-heartedly. She knew she was trespassing into a complex and rickety field as had some of Obma’s forerunners found.
In the wider geo-strategic spectrum of US’ foreign policy in recent days, American policy planners lays more emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region as upcoming epicenter of international strategy. Rising military and economic power of China and her energy-based policy of reaching the oil rich Gulf States in the Arabian Sea besides the hydrocarbon deposits-rich Central Asian States of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have begun to meet with repercussions from other major actors, the US, Russia and India. Russia, claiming historical and traditional “big brother” status in Central Asian States, feels she is being pushed out and made irrelevant to the region. This is reflected in the way the weakest of the Central Asian States, namely Tajikistan has hardened posture on extending the lease of her military bases to Moscow. Take into account the enormous investment China will be making in the developmental projects to be undertaken by her in Tajikistan – the once southern belly of the erstwhile Soviet Union but now strategically the most important Central Asian State, fortifies the suspicions of Moscow the China will be elbowing her out of CA.
With Pakistan embroiled in deep internal crisis springing from political instability and economic fragility, she is fast loosing her relevance to the strategic needs of the US in the region. Iran, a country that could certainly have a role in the Asia-Pacific tie-up, has chosen to remain bogged with her US-Israel obsession thereby failing to carve place for herself in new strategic roadmap in Asia – Pacific and Indian Ocean linkages. The only major power left out to play a significant role is India, not just because of her physical proximity both to the Indian Ocean and the Himalayan watershed but more importantly because of her democratic dispensation that gives her unique position as the major ally in Asia-Pacific defence and development planning In this scenario, the importance of Kashmir issue gets diluted on international plane just because there are major players on the scene with major agenda to deliver. What Obama said is the diplomatic idiom of saying that the status quo in Kashmir will be changed only if two countries namely India and Pakistan agree to do so. But in a situation in which they are not ready to bring about any change in the status quo, well the things are all right in the entire spectrum of Indo-Pak relationship which is being gradually strengthened by mutual dialogue at various levels. Obama says he is happy with ongoing Indo-Pak talks.
The message is clear and loud for the separatists in Kashmir. We hope they are able to read the writing on the wall. What Kashmir needs is good governance, fast track development and employment for the youth.
Satisfactory steps are taken by the government in the State to meet these requirements. Its demand of 7300 crore rupees as grant for the current financial year has been fully met by the Planning Commission.
In addition, other grants for identified projects would also flow.
This addresses internal problems of Kashmir. Aspirations beyond that will be just inviting trouble for the youth and the innocent people who yearn for peace and tranquility in days to come.