UNITED STATES OBSESSION WITH THE KASHMIR ISSUE: An Analysis


UNITED STATES OBSESSION WITH THE KASHMIR ISSUE: An Analysis

by Dr. Subhash Kapila

Pakistan excepted, it is the United States of America which stands out as the second nation most obsessed with the Kashmir issue. The American obsession with Kashmir has been persistent for the last fifty years or so.

Paradoxically, when Indian Governments and leaders of all hues have contested Pakistan’s obsession with Kashmir, no Indian government or leaders have questioned the United States obsession. Similarly, the Indian media which goes to ridiculous lengths at over-analysis of Kashmir happenings and national security issues, has also not ventured to question the United States obsession with Kashmir.

In the last fifty years, the United States has applied different labels to the Kashmir issue from ‘self- determination’ to ‘aspiration of the Kashmiri people’ to being ‘a nuclear flash-point’ endangering international security’. The constantly changing stand of the United States is reflective of the fact that the United States stand on the Kashmir issue is flexible and can be said to be dependent on two factors at a given point in time: (1) Tenor of India-United States relations and; (2) The strategic utility of Pakistan for any intended United States strategic moves in South West Asia.

Kashmir or the Kashmir issue, therefore is of no concern to the United States, but only an expedient strategic tool for the region. However, since the United States cannot be ignored on any strategic issue, its rationale for its obsession with the Kashmir issue needs to be analysed. This analysis can best be done in reverse order by first analysing whether Kashmir does exist as an issue at all and then trying to understand United States motives.

Kashmir is an Obsolescent Issue: Kashmir has become an obsolescent issue as: (1) Pakistan has failed repeatedly to alter the status by resort to arms and proxy war (2) Pakistan has exhibited an incorrigible pattern of behaviour in reneging on all agreements (Simla Agreement 1972) and accords (Lahore Accord 1999) and UN resolutions (UN Resolution of 1948 and 1949 asking for withdrawal of Pakistan Army from Kashmir) which could have provided the basis for any amicable resolution of Pakistani concerns.

Pakistan and so also the United States have to come to grips with the harsh strategic reality that the Kashmir issue besides India’s legal inheritance, stands resolved through obsolescence itself.

This view stands corroborated by noted authority on conflict resolution and international politics: Prof K.J. Holsti. Prof. Holsti is an eminent Canadian scholar and once President of the International Studies Association.

United States Original Unequivocal Stand On Kashmir Accession: Warren Austin, the United States Representative to the United Nation asserted in the United Nations on February 4, 1948: “The external sovereignty of Kashmir is no longer under the control of the Maharaja…. With the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India, this foreign sovereignty went over to India and is exercised by India…..”.

The above clearly indicates that the United States at the inception of the dispute and conflict generated by Pakistan was abundantly clear and had asserted the legality of Kashmir’s accession to India.

It can be said that this clear assertion was made before Cold War politics could take root in the Indian sub-continent and before Pakistan became an accomplice of US strategic designs.

Subsequent Changes in American Stand: In brief, a historical analysis of subsequent events would indicate that America’s stand on Kashmir kept changing in direct response to India’s stances and attitudes on international issues. The more important factors that came into play, singly or in combination were:

* United States State Department policies towards the Indian Sub-continent becoming overly dependent on the guidance of Sir Olaf Caroe, the British expert and friend of Pakistan.

* United States stand on Kashmir was being determined by Britain. Britain has never till today got over the loss as to why Kashmir did not accede to Pakistan despite, Britain’s determined efforts.

* The Cold War enlistment of Pakistan as a strategic ally for containment of the former Soviet Union.

* India’s policy of non-alignment which became an anathema for the United States and the West.

Broad pattern of American Involvement with Kashmir Issue: The American involvement with the Kashmir issue has been a constant. What has varied is the intensity and this corresponded to the prevailing security environment and USA-India-Pakistan equations. (1) The 1950s witnessed active involvement; (2) The 1960s and 1970s was an era of detached involvement; (3) The 1980s marked US promotion of dialogue.

The 1990s witnessed an intense anti-Indian manifestation on the Kashmir question under the Clinton Administration. This was chiefly due to the pro-Pakistan proclivities of the Asstt Secretary of State, Robin Raphael who on October 23, 1993 declared that: “We (USA) do not recognise the legal validity of Kashmir’s accession as meaning that Kashmir is for ever an integral part of India… The people of Kashmir have got to be consulted in any kind of final settlement of the Kashmir dispute.” It was a strange reversal from what Warren Austin had declared in 1948.

Clinton was later to make amends in the last year of his second administration on this count when Pakistan was berated by him on the Kashmir issue, specifically in terms of respect for the LOC. It must be noted that the proxy war in J&K by Pakistan intensified during the 1990s i.e. the era of United States permissiveness of Pakistan’s delinquency in Kashmir.

What has crept in US policies in the 1990s and being sustained by the present Bush Administration and particularly the Secretary of State, Colin Powell is “the aspirations of Kashmiri people”.

Kashmiri alienation and ‘Aspiration of the Kashmiri People’: Much stands recorded on this count and to make this analysis simpler, what needs to be re-counted is:

* Kashmiri alienation is a myth propagated by Pakistan, Western scholars and the Indian media elite. Alienation in the valley inspired by foreign Islamic Jehadi impulses is restricted and confined to the Kashmir valley. It cannot be applied to the other major and bigger regions of Jammu, Ladakh and non-Valley Muslim areas.

* If Kashmir alienation was so pronounced and claimed by the above sections, Pakistan would have been able to inflict a ‘Bangladesh’ on India. That this has not happened negates such assertions.

The United States and others need to understand that under the provisions of accession of princely states in 1947 under the British policies of ‘Transfer of Power’, Kashmir cannot be made an exception.

In any case, even Pakistan as the main protagonist and contender in Kashmir, would not permit any resolution, incorporating the American invented, 1990’s version of “aspirations of the Kashmiri people”.

United States Strategic Interest in Kashmir: Recent reports had indicated that the United States has strategic interests in Kashmir as an independent entity. An independent Kashmir would be wholly dependent on the United States and would facilitate establishing a permanent military presence of the United States.

This speculative report stands negated as establishing any United States military presence in an independent Kashmir would be costly, terrain-wise strategically unsound, and whose access to a land-locked entity would mean over-flying territories of other nations which may not permit so always.

The United States, therefore, has a strategic objective, of using Kashmir as a “pressure-point” in the conduct of its policies in the Indian sub-continent. Comparatively, use of Kashmir as a pressure-point is more India-intended and more India-relevant. This is the stark reality that all Indians, and especially the liberal fraternity, must note and recognise.

Conclusion: Contentious issues and disputes have a shelf-life and cannot be flogged ad-nauseum. This reality must dawn on the United States. More importantly it must manifest itself in American official pronouncements. Kashmir is an obsolescent issue now and needs to be given a dignified burial, which can best be done by the United States.

Emerging strategic realities in the Indian sub-continent would indicate in faint contours now and in more bold contours in the future, that the United States national interests would best be served in the Indian sub continent and the Indian Ocean region by a friendly India and not a “pressurised” India. A strongly emerging and assertive India becomes that much less “pressure -prone”.

(Dr. Subhash Kapila is an International Relations and Strategic Affairs analyst.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in kashmir and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to UNITED STATES OBSESSION WITH THE KASHMIR ISSUE: An Analysis

  1. DAWAR KHURSHID BABA says:

    World Civil Society need to know that Kashmir problem is not a land dispute between India & pakistan. This is basically the matter of the right of self-determination that was promised to the people of Kashmir by the Governments of India & Pakistan 62 years ago and the resolutions passed in the U.N. security Council & General Assembly bear a testemony to this. Majority in Kashmir see India & Pakistan both as illegal occupation forces. While Pakistan still backs grant of right of self determination to kashmiries, India is shamelessly and on the basis of its might & gun power changing its stances by some times saying that Kashmir is its integral part or that freedom struggle in kashmir is motivated and funded by Islamic Jihadi forces AND some times saying that Kashmiries have already exercised their right of self determination.

    Sh. Jawahir Lal Nehru, Indian Prime Minister in his broadcast to his nation from All India Radio, November 2, 1947 made the following commitment to Kashmiri Nation, Indian Nation and the World Community.
    “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given (and the Maharajah has supported it) not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and law and order have been established to have referendum held under international auspices like the UNO. We want it to be a fair and just reference to the people, and we shall accept their verdict. I can imagine no fairer and juster offer”.
    It may also be relevant to quote below
    Resolution adopted by Security Council of United Nations Organisation ( UNO )on January 24, 1957.
    “Having heard statements from representatives of the Governments of India and Pakistan concerning the dispute over the State of Jammu and Kashmir;
    “Reminding the Governments and authorities concerned of the principle embodied in its Resolutions of 21 April 1948, 3 June 1948, 14 March 1950 and 30 March 1950, and the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan Resolutions of 13 August 1948 and 5 January 1949, that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations;
    “Reaffirms the affirmation in its Resolution of March 30, 1951 and declares that the convening of a Constituent Assembly as recommended by the General Council of the “All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference” and any action that Assembly may have taken or might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire State or any part thereof, or action by the parties concerned in support of any such action by the Assembly, would not constitute a disposition of the State in accordance with the above principle;
    “Decides to continue its consideration of the dispute.”
    For permenant and a lasting resolution of Kashmir dispute let the Intellegencia, Civil Society and so called Stategic / Political / Defence / Security Analysts, Diplomats, Beauracrats,Politicians, Decision Makers Of India and Pakistan not waste time and energy on advising their Governments on holding on their occupied land or whole of J&K State illegally and endlessly BUT; they should after taking into confidence genuine representatives of the people of Jammu & Kashmir make concerted efforts and come up with fair and just proposals in solving this old pending dispute keeping in view the aspirations of Kashmiri people. The intersts of India, Pakistan or USA should come only next. Around 100,000 people in kashmir have given sacrifice from 1989 onwards for a cause. This is perhaps the best time as a large part of the leadership of the freedom struggle are at present willing to leave Arms and have Political settlement.The sooner good sense prevails on the People in India, Pakistan, Great Britain, European Community, USA, United Nations And Kashmir for resolving Kashmir problem once for all, the better it will be not only for the well being, DEVELOPMENT and Prosperity of the people of this region but of the entire mankind.

  2. I completely support the idea of America becoming involved in the Kashmir conflict. Solving it would do much for our security by taking anoth camp away from terrorists.

  3. DAWAR KHURSHAID BABA says:

    1.DAWAR KHURSHID BABA said
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    August 20, 2009 at 8:05 am
    World Civil Society need to know that Kashmir problem is not a land dispute between India & pakistan. This is basically the matter of the right of self-determination that was promised to the people of Kashmir by the Governments of India & Pakistan 62 years ago and the resolutions passed in the U.N. security Council & General Assembly bear a testemony to this. Majority in Kashmir see India & Pakistan both as illegal occupation forces. While Pakistan still backs grant of right of self determination to kashmiries, India is shamelessly and on the basis of its might & gun power changing its stances by some times saying that Kashmir is its integral part or that freedom struggle in kashmir is motivated and funded by Islamic Jihadi forces AND some times saying that Kashmiries have already exercised their right of self determination.

    Sh. Jawahir Lal Nehru, Indian Prime Minister in his broadcast to his nation from All India Radio, November 2, 1947 made the following commitment to Kashmiri Nation, Indian Nation and the World Community.
    “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given (and the Maharajah has supported it) not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and law and order have been established to have referendum held under international auspices like the UNO. We want it to be a fair and just reference to the people, and we shall accept their verdict. I can imagine no fairer and juster offer”.
    It may also be relevant to quote below
    Resolution adopted by Security Council of United Nations Organisation ( UNO )on January 24, 1957.
    “Having heard statements from representatives of the Governments of India and Pakistan concerning the dispute over the State of Jammu and Kashmir;
    “Reminding the Governments and authorities concerned of the principle embodied in its Resolutions of 21 April 1948, 3 June 1948, 14 March 1950 and 30 March 1950, and the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan Resolutions of 13 August 1948 and 5 January 1949, that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations;
    “Reaffirms the affirmation in its Resolution of March 30, 1951 and declares that the convening of a Constituent Assembly as recommended by the General Council of the “All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference” and any action that Assembly may have taken or might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire State or any part thereof, or action by the parties concerned in support of any such action by the Assembly, would not constitute a disposition of the State in accordance with the above principle;
    “Decides to continue its consideration of the dispute.”
    For permenant and a lasting resolution of Kashmir dispute let the Intellegencia, Civil Society and so called Stategic / Political / Defence / Security Analysts, Diplomats, Beauracrats,Politicians, Decision Makers Of India and Pakistan not waste time and energy on advising their Governments on holding on their occupied land or whole of J&K State illegally and endlessly BUT; they should after taking into confidence genuine representatives of the people of Jammu & Kashmir make concerted efforts and come up with fair and just proposals in solving this old pending dispute keeping in view the aspirations of Kashmiri people. The intersts of India, Pakistan or USA should come only next. Around 100,000 people in kashmir have given sacrifice from 1989 onwards for a cause. This is perhaps the best time as a large part of the leadership of the freedom struggle are at present willing to leave Arms and have Political settlement.The sooner good sense prevails on the People in India, Pakistan, Great Britain, European Community, USA, United Nations And Kashmir for resolving Kashmir problem once for all, the better it will be not only for the well being, DEVELOPMENT and Prosperity of the people of this region but of the entire mankind.

  4. Great headline. If your cookie has a bite-sized action and your reader completes the action, I think two things happen. Their self-confidence goes up (which feels good) and their trust in you increases.

  5. Sana says:

    A new book by a former US diplomat calls for an effective role by the US in resolving the Kashmir issue.
    “I believe that the Obama administration ought to look for opportunities to play a helpful role on Kashmir,“ says Howard B Schaffer author of ‘The Limits of Influence: America’s Role in Kashmir.’ The book has been published by the influential US think-tank, the Brookings Institution. ought “What’s important is that the Obama administration has to be on the look-out for opportunities, and whatever role it does play will have to be very low-key,” says Schaffer.
    “I also think – and this is very important – that the basic outline of a settlement on Kashmir now seems in view,” he said.
    Schaffer, currently deputy director and director of studies of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service, is a 36-year veteran of the US Foreign Service and has served as ambassador to Bangladesh (1984 to 1987), and as political counsellor in India (1977 to 1979) and Pakistan (1974 to 1977).
    According to the author, ‘The Limits of US influence’ spell out what America’s role has been including that in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s when the US really sought to project it towards a development of a settlement in Kashmir. But it was limited and unsuccessful.
    Later, US efforts were focused not on developing a framework for settlement on Kashmir – as they had been under Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy – but rather towards what you could call crisis management. “That is, we tried to calm down the situation when developments connected with Kashmir led the two parties into a critical confrontation,” said Schaffer.
    According to Schaffer, the elements of the Kashmir settlement as spelled out in his book include: One is that the ceasefire line or the Line of Control (LoC) should become the international boundary, with minor adjustments perhaps, acceptable to the two sides. Secondly, that there be a considerable degree of autonomy for both sides of Kashmir.
    And third, that there be free movement or easy movement of goods and people from one side of the divided state to the other. “What you need to do is to fill in the details, to flesh out the settlement, which will also have to include a considerable degree of demilitarization on both sides of Kashmir. And finally, I would like to see the development of some All Kashmir institutions, which can deal with non-controversial issues, such as say, tourism or electric power generation.”
    Obama, according to Schaffer, should proceed on Kashmir the way he told Joe Klein of Time magazine during the campaign trail. “Sure, he (Obama) makes some good arguments as to why India should want to be rid of this problem to focus on development, and why Pakistan should want to be rid of it in order to focus on the problems on the Afghanistan side. And that’s the way Obama should proceed on the Kashmir issue,” he said.
    A settlement on Kashmir, according to Schaffer could be worked out only if there are strong governments in both countries (India and Pakistan). “And when the two countries come closer to a settlement, it is at the point, I think, that the United States might – and I stress might – be of some help in getting the two sides across that elusive finish line on
    Kashmir they’ve never been able to cross on their own.”
    According to Schaffer there would be greater concessions to be made by Pakistan than by India, which after all will keep the Kashmir valley – which has always been the crux of the issue. Nonetheless, there will be some concessions that India would have to make – on the autonomy issue for example.
    Schaffer considers independence for Kashmir as unworkable, unthinkable, an idea that, according to him, will never be accepted by any Indian government no matter how strong. “I have said in the book, and I believe there are many Indian commentators who agree with me, that if they had a choice, the Muslims of the Kashmir valley would vote in favour of independence. But they are not going to have that choice.”
    According to Schaffer, during his visits to India, he had talked to senior Indian officials about this call on Musharraf’s self-government proposal, “and the answer we got from some of them was yes, self-government is fine – all Indian states enjoy self-government, so why would we object to Kashmir having similar self-government?”
    “But that, of course, is not what I see as the basis for a settlement. There would have to be a much greater degree of autonomy – and this would apply both to Indian and the Pakistani side – than is afforded to Indian states. And to make the settlement acceptable, you would have to develop ironclad guarantees that this autonomy will not erode over time. You have to do that because the experience in Kashmir suggests that Indian governments can slowly erode that autonomy. So, such guarantees have to be worked out.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s