US deliberating proactive role in Kashmir: Stephen Cohen
6 November 2003
The Hindustan Times
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi: The US is deliberating a 'forward leaning positive role' in Jammu and Kashmir to avoid a 'nuclear accident' between India and Pakistan, according to a leading expert on South Asia.'It will not be mediation, not even facilitation. (If I were) an Indian I will welcome it,' said Stephen Cohen, senior fellow in the foreign policy studies programme of the Brookings Institute in Washington.One of the things being discussed in the US was the setting up of a 'high- level White House group to look at India and Pakistan and indirectly at Kashmir', he said, speaking on US-India relations late on Thursday at the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank in New Delhi.'You can't have two nuclear weapon states come to the brink of war. Sooner or later there is going to be a mistake. Both Pakistan and India have made mistakes. Even a single nuclear detonation can lead to catastrophe,' asserted Cohen. 'Repeated major crises can slip into accidents.'India, which is strongly opposed to any third- party role in resolving the Kashmir dispute, would not be averse to the US playing such a role, Cohen felt.'India sees an American role in Pakistan as useful,' according to him.Much of the war-like preparations by India last year were a deliberate ploy to put pressure on Pakistan.According to Cohen, Pakistan needed an 'international rescue operation, but it has to change some of its policies'.'I think Pakistan will survive,' he said in response to a question.'I don't think the state will fail because the army will stay together. But the systems, like education, are failing and Pakistan could emerge as a major strategic problem facing India.'Pakistan is a paranoid state but it is a paranoid state with enemies. Pakistan has genuine concerns about India.'Asked by former Indian Army chief, General (retd) VP Malik, whether a resolution of the Kashmir issue would end Islamabad's adversarial attitude towards India, Cohen said: 'If Kashmir is solved, a lot of other issues will also be solved.'I don't think Kashmir can be resolved. It can be managed better,' he said.To a question about the US reaction to India's turning down a request for troops for Iraq, Cohen said while the general American public did not bother, 'India baiters' would hold it against the country.There was also 'deep anger and disappointment' among senior American officials who had thought India would send troops. 'They feel 'India let us down',' he said.