Thursday 28 October 2004

Musharraf Calls the Bluff (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat

MANIPAL, India, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- While most U.S. secretaries of state -- save perhaps Dean Rusk -- have gobbled up credit for outcomes that they had little to do with, few have been as brazen as Colin Powell.
Two years ago, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was surprised when the leader of the main Islamist alliance -- Maulana Fazlur Rahman -- visited India and issued a series of highly conciliatory statements. As Pakistan's president had been telling the United States he was "forced" into taking a hawkish line on India precisely by the likes of Rahman, this was an embarrassment.
The reality is that India is no longer the enemy of choice for the people of Pakistan. That distinction has now gone to the United States.
Realists, and this even includes members of the U.S. Democratic foreign policy establishment such as Strobe Talbott, who have long sought to divest India of its defensive capability against another nuclear power in Asia, understand the only feasible solution for Kashmir is the acceptance of the status quo. India keeps what it has while Pakistan and China (which was gifted a slice of the territory three decades ago) do likewise.
Simultaneously, New Delhi would ensure a degree of autonomy for the state that would help cut popular support off from jihadis attempting to convert Kashmir into a second Afghanistan.
Bill Clinton understood this at the end of his term in office yet, under Colin Powell (who appears to have an affinity for generals active in politics), the pendulum of U.S. policy has once again swung toward a quixotic effort to prize at least the Valley of Kashmir loose from India.

This, Pakistan's lobbyist in Washington Christina Rocca has been told, is the "minimum" that the Pakistan army will accept. It is also far more than what any administration in New Delhi can deliver.