Afghanistan: Can Obama hammer India to stop interfering in US policy?


Afghanistan: Can Obama hammer India to stop interfering in US policy?

The Obama Administration wants a face saving exit from Kabul. Islamabad holds a key to that face saving exit. Islamabad is asking Washington to use its offices to reduce the border tension between Pakistan and Bharat so that Islamabad can concentrate on the Western Frontier. The Obama Administration, and the Civilian and Military leadership seems to have understood this Pakistani point of view–which they find reasonable.

The Obama Administration must make it very clear to Delhi that it must stop its terror activities in Balochistan and its cross-border terror using the TTP and other terror groups. Enough is enough. Unless the Obama Administration can take that tough stand, it cannot bring peace to the land between the Indus and the Amu Darya and beyond. One major issue that many in the Administration are well aware of is the potential and the reality of the destabilization of Central Asia. If peace does not grow in Afghanistan and does not grow quickly, all of Central Asia will be encompassed in the vortex of war. That is why China and Russia want a quick end to violence on their doorstep.

  • The directive, issued in December, concluded that “India must make resolving its tensions with Pakistan a priority for progress to be made on US goals in the region,” Hindustan Times
  • http://www.hindustantimes.com/Obama-s-secret-directive-Intensify-efforts-to-ease-Indo-Pak-tensions/H1-Article1-527400.aspx
  • A debate continues within the administration over how hard to push India, which has long resisted outside intervention in the conflict with its neighbor. WSJ
  • To blunt India’s eager courtship of Afghanistan, Pakistan is pouring $300 million of its own money and resources into a nation it also views as key to the stability of volatile South Asia, as well as a potentially lucrative business partner. Emily Wax. Washington Post.
  • Pakistan has hosted 3 million Afghan refugees for 30 years and has already spent $500 million in projects in Pakistan. Millions of Afghans have been born in Pakistan and they speak Urdu and have made Pakistan their home–specially in Quetta.

President Obama wants to change Bharati attitudes. The issue in Washington is how to bell the Delhi cat. Bharat feigns nervousness about any third party “negotiations”–and uses the excuse of bilateralism so that it does not have to budge on any issue. Bilateral talks are the victim of Bharati hubris, arrogance, intransigence and obduracy. They always fail.

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The directive concluded that India must make resolving its tensions with Pakistan a priority for progress to be made on U.S. goals in the region, according to people familiar with its contents.

The U.S. has invested heavily in its own relations with Pakistan in recent months, agreeing to a $7.5 billion aid package and sending top military and diplomatic officials to Islamabad on repeated visits. The public embrace, which reached a high point last month in high-profile talks in Washington, reflects the Obama administration’s belief that Pakistan must be convinced to change its strategic calculus and take a more assertive stance against militants based in its western tribal regions over the course of the next year in order to turn the tide in Afghanistan.

According to the Boston Globe Senator “Kerry has become a key architect of a policy shift away from strictly short-term, conditional payments to Pakistan’s military and toward long-term pledges of assistance to its citizens”. Wendy Chamberlain is very popular in Pakistan. The Boston Globe quotes her on Senator John Kerry. “John Kerry has played an enormously positive role,’’ said Wendy Chamberlin, a former ambassador to Pakistan who is president of the Middle East Institute…Kerry hopes the aid will bolster what he calls a “sea change’’ in Pakistan.

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President Barack Obama issued a secret directive in December to intensify American diplomacy aimed at easing tensions between India and Pakistan, asserting that without détente between the two rivals, the administration’s efforts to win Pakistani cooperation in Afghanistan would suffer.

Peter Spiegel and Matthew Rosenberg make some blunt observations in The Wall Street Journal and if the reports are to be believed then Delhi is under a lot of pressure to reduce its presence in Afghanistan, and obtund its military presence along the Pakistani border. While Delhi clamors to proffer the anti-thesis that Islamabad’s perceptions about Bharat are incorrect–Washington’s retort on this line is “deal with the perception”, and “resolve the issues”.

  • The Pentagon, in particular, has sought more pressure on New Delhi, according to U.S. and Indian officials. WSJ
  • Current and former U.S. officials said the discussion in Washington over how to approach India has intensified as Pakistan ratchets up requests that the U.S. intercede in a series of continuing disputes.
  • The directive concluded that India must make resolving its tensions with Pakistan a priority for progress to be made on U.S. goals in the region, according to people familiar with its contents. Times of India
  • Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been among the more vocal advocates of encouraging Delhi to be more “transparent” about its activities along the countries’ shared border and to cooperate more with Pakistan. WSJ

A debate continues within the administration over how hard to push India, which has long resisted outside intervention in the conflict with its neighbor. The Pentagon, in particular, has sought more pressure on New Delhi, according to U.S. and Indian officials. Current and former U.S. officials said the discussion in Washington over how to approach India has intensified as Pakistan ratchets up requests that the U.S. intercede in a series of continuing disputes.

During the Strategic Dialog with Pakistan, the US tacitly, and publicly accepted Pakistan’s Strategic Depth and role in brining peace to Afghanistan. This is anathema to Delhi which wants to pressure Pakistan from both sides.

The Wall Street Journal and major media outlets are portending the thesis that the Obama Administration is asking Delhi to be stop terror activities against Pakistan, listen more carefully to Islamabad’s complaints, and resolve the Kashmir and water disputes with Pakistan. This is not music to the Delhi politicians who usually ignore the Pakistani point of view and take the Kashmir discussion into a cul de sac called bilateral talks. During bilateral talks Delhi then kills all discussion by loudly proclaiming that Kashmir is an integral part of Bharat (aka India) and the topic of boundaries are nut subject to negotiations. Since 1947 dozens of these “talks have been held between Delhi and Pakistan–all ending in abject failure due to obduracy, intransigence and skullduggery of Delhi. Pakistan is not the only country that has faced Bharati tergiversation. Delhi has been unable to resolve its boundary disputes with any of her neighbors, namely Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Myanmar, China, Bangladesh.

Pakistan has long regarded Afghanistan as providing “strategic depth”—essentially, a buffer zone—in a potential conflict with India. Some U.S. officials believe Islamabad will remain reluctant to wholeheartedly fight the Islamic militants based on its Afghan border unless the sense of threat from India is reduced.

Pakistan does not see the threat from the same prism that Bharat sees the threat. For Pakistan the threat is Bharat–whether from the Eastern of the Western border. Islamabad feels that it can deal with the Pakhtuns through battles, negotiations, and with projects. Delhi wants to dominate Afghanistan as part of its colonial legacy and its flights of fancy headed towards regional power. For Pakistan it is a struggle for survival. For Bharat is it a point of prestige and stature. The Pakistanis will fight with a lot more determination than the Bharatis can ever hope to.

U.S. and Indian officials say the Obama administration has so far made few concrete demands of New Delhi. According to U.S. officials, the only specific request has been to discourage India from getting more involved in training the Afghan military, to ease Pakistani concerns about getting squeezed by India on two borders.

Can President Obama over rule or convince its Bharati constituencies supported on the Hill by the Bharati lobby and their AIPAC allies? This is the question that vexes the Obama Administration. His second term and his presidency depends on the ability to face the onslaught of the lobbies. If he follows the Bush doctrine and does not stand up to the Bharatis, the Afghan war will go on in perpetuity without any chance of ever achieving peace. The Afghan war is not popular with the American people and the US military. They want a face saving exit. Bharat was given a decade, and it cannot deliver peace in Kabul. The US military and the CIA believe that no peace is possible in the Hindu Kush without Islamabad on board. The only way to get wholehearted Pakistani cooperation is to resolve its disputes with Delhi and to give it a major role in Afghanistan.

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“This is an administration that’s deeply divided about the wisdom of leaning on India to solve U.S. problems with Pakistan,” said Ashley Tellis, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has discussed the issue with senior officials in the U.S. and India. “There are still important constituencies within the administration that have not given up hope that India represents the answer.”

India has long resisted outside involvement in its differences with Pakistan, particularly over the disputed region of Kashmir. But, according to a U.S. government official, a 56-page dossier presented by the Pakistani government to the Obama administration ahead of high-level talks in Washington last month contained a litany of accusations against the Indian government, and suggestions the U.S. intercede on Pakistan’s behalf.

Pakistan has forcefully and unequivocally informed Washington that Bharati dourness about Pakistan stems from its historic inability to accept the reality of Pakistan which it feels was artificially and temporarily “partitioned” from the mother country. Ms. Hillary Clinton and many in the Democratic Party had been unable to see this Pakistani point of view–initially they brushed it off as Pakistani paranoia. However lately there have been signs that the American tin ear has melted and Pakistani concerns about its sovereignty viz a viz Bharat have found some measure of understanding in Washington.

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The official said the document alleges that India has never accepted Pakistan’s sovereignty as an independent state, and accuses India of diverting water from the Indus River and fomenting separatism in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has signaled that Washington isn’t interested in mediating on water issues, which are covered by a bilateral treaty.

The Bharati media has been reacting to the sagacious and sane Obama initiative which could and would bring peace to Afghanistan. Obviously the sagacious policy has been met with a wall of traditional Bharati inexorability and stubbornness. The Bharati pundits and media wish Pakistan to go away, so that Bharat can reach out to its lands in Afghanistan and beyond. Realpolitik comes in the way of this Bharati revanchism, kleptomania and irredentism. Unable to hold on to its own fraying Union, Delhi is consumed by its desire to extend its borders–on the Eastern, Northern, and Western fronts. IN the North it faces Chinese might, and on the West it faces Pakistan’s Nuclear Mutually Assured Destruction. therefore it wants to use Afghanistan to pressure Pakistan, to aid separatists, and to form road and rail links to “conquer” Central Asia. This is not the Indian Doctrine–the religion requires them to expand into areas which Alexander and Islam had taken from them.

Subcontinental Drift

The White House declined to comment on Mr. Obama’s directive or on the debate within the administration over India policy. The directive to top foreign-policy and national-security officials was summarized in a memo written by National Security Adviser James Jones at the end of the White House’s three-month review of Afghan war policy in December.

Bharat is now trying to blackmail the US by holding commerce, currency, lobbies and other means to make it change its course–and help Delhi as a counterweight to China. Of course Delhi sees this a temporary alliance–’till it can challenge the US itself.

An Indian government official said the U.S.’s increasing attention to Pakistani concerns hasn’t hurt bilateral relations overall. “Our relationship is mature—of course we have disagreements, but we’re trying not to have knee-jerk reactions,” the Indian official said.

According to U.S. and Indian officials, the Pentagon has emerged in internal Obama administration debates as an active lobbyist for more pressure on India, with some officials already informally pressing Indian officials to take Pakistan’s concerns more seriously. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. government’s prime interlocutor with the powerful head of the Pakistani army, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, has been among the more vocal advocates of a greater Indian role, according to a U.S. military official, encouraging New Delhi to be more “transparent” about its activities along the countries’ shared border and to cooperate more with Pakistan.

Pakistan has made clear to Delhi that it does not just want talks so that Delhi can appease Washington. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister recently told the media that Delhi must initiate a composite results oriented dialog with a schedule. Talks for the sake of talks will not work, and Pakistan is not interested in parleys to show Washington that Delhi is talking.

In interviews, U.S. military officials were circumspect about what specific moves they would like to see from New Delhi. But according to people who have discussed India policy with Pentagon officials, the ideas discussed in internal debates include reducing the number of Indian troops in Kashmir or pulling back forces along the border.

“They say, ‘The Pakistanis have this perception and you have to deal with the perception’,” said one foreign diplomat who has discussed India’s role with Pentagon officials.

An Indian defense ministry spokesman said his country’s army has already moved about 30,000 troops out of Kashmir in recent years.

The State Department has resisted such moves to pressure India, according to current and former U.S. officials, insisting they could backfire. These officials have argued that the most recent promising peace effort—secret reconciliation talks several years ago between Indian Prime Minster Singh and then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf—occurred without U.S. involvement.

“Our principal interest has always been to encourage the talks to resume, but we also understand where the Indians are coming from, which is that there has to be some progress on these bilateral counterterrorism” issues, said the official.

During the Strategic Dialog with the US, Pakistan clearly described the Bharati interference in Pakistan and wanted it stopped as quickly as possible. Why would Bharat need so many Consulates in Afghanistan? The number of consulates exceeds the number of visas issued to Afghanis. Pakistan has repeatedly and forcefully proclaimed that these Consulates are the dens of inequity spreading problems for Pakistan. Those Indian sponsored problems then bring pain not only to Pakistanis, but also are an impediment to US interests in the region. The US has asked Delhi to reduce its presence in Afghanistan, and there are signs that Bharat may be reducing its staff and activities that were aimed against Islamabad.

Separately, Pakistan has been more forcefully raising concerns about Indian activities in Afghanistan with the U.S. Senior Pakistani officials allege India is using its Afghan aid missions as a cover to support separatists in Baluchistan and the Pakistani Taliban, and say they have presented evidence of that to U.S. officials. Indian officials deny the accusations.

A Pakistani security official said his government also has pressed the U.S. about India’s ties to the Afghan intelligence agency, the National Security Directorate, and argued that Indian consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar are outposts for India’s spy agency.

“Something has to be done to stop Afghanistan from being a jumping-off point for Indian intelligence,” said the security official. Washington Post. U.S. Aims to Ease India-Pakistan Tension By PETER SPIEGEL in Washington and MATTHEW ROSENBERG in Kabul

Pakistanis don’t believe ‘Ugly American’ with ‘forked tongue’

There are clear signs that the US has in many ways asked Bharat to reduce the tensions by whatever means necessary. The question is what will Delhi do to circumvents US pressure and bypass Washington’s requirements and then work against President Obama’s plans. How will Delhi resist the US military’s demands?

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