By Mahmood Riazuddin
US President barack Obama’s visit to India coincides with four important developments: i) The third round of Pakistan-US strategic dialogue has just concluded; ii) Obama’s Democratic Party has faced a humiliating blow in the mid-term elections in United States; iii) India has launched an aggressive campaign to have permanent membership of the UN Security Council; and iv) Kashmiris are observing Jammu Martyrs Day [November 6] which is reminiscent of en bloc massacre of Kashmiris in 1947.
Obama’s decision to prefer India for his visit to the region speaks volumes for the sort of relations between the sole superpower of the world and the mini-superpower in the region. This is despite the fact that Pakistan has been playing the role of a frontline state in the US-led war on terror for the last nine long years and it has suffered colossal losses in terms of men and material during this course, and is still facing the consequences of its being a non-NATO ally of the United States. However, the Americans ignoring this role have waged an undeclared war against Pakistan and the bane of US drone strikes have posed a grave challenge to the very sovereignty of the country.
Some Pakistanis are of the view that enhancement of US-India relations is just a misgiving, but they must acknowledge that the two countries share many commonalities and the common objectives besides the ‘common enemy’ that is China. The chronologies of India and United States reveal that both of them have expansionist and hegemonic designs and they have frequently indulged in adventurisms not only against their neighboring states but also the countries in other regions to fulfill their designs. United States is the sole power which has so far used a nuclear weapon while India is the sole country which conducted a nuclear test in South Asia thereby igniting a nuclear race in the region. In the recent years, United States has executed a so-called civil nuclear cooperation accord with India but at the same time, it has frequently refused such an arrangement with Pakistan. Similarly, both the countries have constantly been stockpiling sophisticated weapons. They have conducted 50 joint military exercises during the last few years while India is going to purchase military [war] equipment worth $2.5 billion.
The United States claims that China’s attitude is becoming ‘nationalist’ and its leadership shows unexpected assertiveness which reveals their ‘arrogance and belligerence’. That is why, United States has adopted a more forceful attitude towards China and has been encouraging India, Vietnam and other countries in South East Asia. As stated President Obama considers India an indispensable partner of his country, but at the same time, he appreciates the indispensability of a Pakistani role in a settlement in Afghanistan. However, in practical terms, he seems to be in no mood for a settlement nor is he ready to assign such a role to Pakistan, a fact which is evident from additional US deployments in the war-torn country.
Similarly, Obama is also in no mood to address India’s growing presence in Afghanistan. Rather he welcomes its involvement in the economy of the war-ravaged country. In his electoral campaign, Barack [then Hussain] Obama had talked of peace and stability in different regions of the world particularly in the Middle East and South Asia. He had also promised to facilitate an amicable solution to the lingering Kashmir issue which he had realized to be a bone of contention between Pakistan and India. It is high time that Obama involves himself in the resolution of differences particularly the core Kashmir issue between the nuclear armed rivals.
The perception that the Kashmir is a bilateral matter between Pakistan and India is unfounded because since the adoption of the UN resolutions in 1948, Kashmir is no longer a bilateral or territorial dispute between the two countries but has become an international obligation. The prospect of peace and progress in South Asia is inseparably linked with the recognition of the right of self-determination of the Kashmiris, and thus rests upon the willingness of the world community particularly the United States to make positive contribution towards resolving the Kashmir conflict.
The high scale of brutalities in the held territory suggests that India is poised to avoid implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. If President Obama wants to see his name written in the history in golden letters or as a global leader, he should not only raise the Kashmir issue during his visit to India but should also facilitate its resolution through a plebiscite in accordance with the UN resolutions, and urge India to respect the UN resolutions on Kashmir to become a permanent member of the world body. Obama’s failure to do so will further weaken credibility and standing of the United States.