U.S. making Kashmir tensions worse
US President Barack Obama's offer to help Prime Minister Manmohan Singh find a solution to the Kashmir dispute is unquestionably well-intended. But it reveals, unfortunately, Washington's over-simplified view of India-Pakistan relations.
The United States wants the two Asian neighbours to have peaceful relations, so that Islamabad can concentrate its energies on counter-terrorism activities along the Afghan border. But that does not mean, Obama has assured, that Washington will "impose a solution to Kashmir". He has merely shown willingness to mediate, if the two countries so desire.
Obama's pitch is gentle, but naive. It mistakenly assumes that Kashmir is the main bone of contention between the two nations, and that the Pakistani government of President Asif Ali Zardari is at the helm of Islamabad's policy towards India.
The continual anti-India aggression of the Pakistan army and the Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI) is fuelled not so much by their love for Kashmir, as by their craving for revenge for defeat in the war of 1971 – which led to the secession of Bengali-speaking East Pakistan as the independent nation of Bangladesh, with India's help.
So, a solution to Kashmir – which seems a distant possibility as of now – will make little difference in tension between India and Pakistan. Not even if the solution were to involve New Delhi ceding control of Indian-administered Kashmir to Islamabad – an outcome next to impossible.