US Must Convince Pak That Kashmir Boundaries Won't Be Redrawn: Tellis
19 May 2005
Washington DC: A former US National Security Council member says Washington must convince Pakistan to accept that Kashmir's boundaries will never be redrawn. Ashley Tellis, who has also served as adviser to former US ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, also wants America to emphasise that military assistance to Pakistan does not mean ignoring the advance of democracy and is not a free ticket to building anti-India tactics. The US strategy for remaking South Asia is also on the right track and depends on how Washington handles strategic dialogues to enable India to become an economic powerhouse and recognise its nuclear ambition, says Tellis. Tellis outlines the risks in a new policy paper entitled, 'South Asian Seesaw: A New US Policy on the Subcontinent' and gives detailed recommendations for implementing the controversial strategy. Tellis articulates the concerns Indian policymakers have voiced to the Bush administration that among the risks of pumping up Pakistan with F-16 sales are those that existed before - Islamabad may begin posturing with India again and its military may interpret this as yet another sign that democracy takes backstage in US policy towards that country. Washington needs to have a 'serious, private conversation' with Pakistan about the envisioned political objectives plus pressure Pakistan to reach an accommodation with India over Kashmir. 'Given the current political facts of life in the subcontinent, any settlement will require Islamabad to accept the fact that it will never secure control of the disputed state (or its prized valley) by any means. Consequently, Pakistan will have to make its peace with reality by redefining the meaning of victory in terms of some criterion other than territorial control or fundamental changes in the existing patterns of sovereignty,' Tellis contends. India and Pakistan present 'different kinds of strategic opportunities for the United States', notes Tellis. And in enabling India to rise to global power status, 'Washington thus has clearly placed its biggest bets on New Delhi, expecting that transformed bilateral relations would aid India in a manner that would ultimately advance America's own global interests with respect to defeating terrorism, arresting further proliferation, and preserving a stable balance of power in Asia over the long term.' But, he notes, Washington has no illusions that New Delhi will march to its tune, rather, India will follow its own drummer. 'The administration has concluded, however and correctly that a strong and independent India represents a strategic asset, even when it remains only a partner and not a formal ally,' Tellis surmises. He attributes the new South Asia policy to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and Counsellor Philip Zelikow, who in effect, executed the 'president's long-standing desire for a transformed relationship with India'. He argues, Washington should use the three strategic dialogues on energy, security, and economics to initiate policy shifts that will have the effect of accelerating Indian economic growth, integrating India into the global nuclear regime, and promoting rapid technological change in India. Concurrently, the US commitment of economic and military aid to Pakistan ought to be oriented towards strengthening Pakistan and promoting regional stability. With India, 'The strategic dialogue will focus on global security issues, including India's quest for permanent UN Security Council membership, future defence cooperation, high-technology trade, and space-related collaboration as well as regional issues pertaining to security in and around South Asia,' he says. But he acknowledges there will be tensions particularly in the nuclear field where the existing Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty regime will come in conflict with accommodating India's aspirations, but advises the Bush administration to follow a flexible approach, particular in light of India's 'impeccable' record of nuclear safeguards. Washington would need to 'artfully' bring in its nuclear allies, especially those in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, to seek limited exceptions such as providing India with safeguarded nuclear fuel and technology in exchange for bringing its power reactors under safeguards. The dramatic change in US policy toward India could also jeopardise relations with China, Tellis warns and advises Washington to move prudently, always keeping its own interests in view rather than fearing Chinese wrath. But the greatest danger to the new policy, is from its own demise, because at the moment, the policy is more a statement of intent rather than real policy and critics in the Indian administration are pointing to tangible results for Pakistan even as New Delhi awaits the benefits. And it is entirely possible that the Bush administration may fail to get the flexibility in nuclear regimes, the cooperation needed in space exploration, etc., and the intent dies with it.