August 2004 News

Trying To Bleed Kashmir Can Decimate Pak Itself: Cohen

17 August 2004
The Times of India

Washington DC: Eminent South Asian affairs expert Steve Cohen is of the view that Pakistan should avoid tying India down on the issue of Kashmir, warning that persistent efforts in this regard could have a decimating effect on Islamabad itself. A senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Cohen says in a recent book written by him that the view in Pakistan at present is that they have pinned the Indians down on Kashmir, and that it would be advantageous to Islamabad to 'bleed New Delhi some more'. 'Pakistan is not only interested in Kashmir for the Kashmiris' sake but because of the perception of Indian dominance. The view in Pakistan, as you know, is that 'well, we have got Indians tied down in Kashmir, let's bleed them some more,' The Daily Times quotes Cohen as saying. 'From a strategic-military point of view, that makes sense. But from the viewpoint of a Pakistani leader, who is governing a country that is on the verge of a collapse, it does not make sense,' Cohen adds. 'If Pakistan were a more dynamic, aggressive, powerful, expanding and growing country, it could afford this strategy, but it is not. So, in a sense, it is bleeding itself as well as India. And that's the tragedy that Pakistan may wind up without a Kashmir and without a recognizable Pakistan also,' he says further. He also describes the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan as a 'drama'. 'They haven't been able to reach an agreement on anything, except one - buses. And not even buses, in fact.' He is also says that the two countries could have reached an agreement on Siachin. Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Centre, however, disagrees with Cohen. 'They have agreed upon communications links which can be very, very useful for crisis management. They have given us promise to put in place a protocol with respect to missiles and they are talking about buses and modalities for people to move in ways that strikes me as being constructive. I think it is early to draw harsh conclusions,' he says. Cohen agrees that 'these are good things' but 'no one is going to get a Nobel Peace Prize for that'. 'I think all of this can explode away literally by one critical assassination attempt or an assassination - it is so easy to do that.' So, while he hopes for the best, he would not be surprised 'if there is another repeat of this cycle of crisis'.


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