June 2005 News

LoC solution Pakistan's best hope: Blackwill

12 June 2005
The Daily Times

Washington: Former US ambassador to India Robert D Blackwill, now a senior official at the National Security Council, has said that India would never give up territory it controls in Jammu and Kashmir and the best deal that Pakistan can hope for is to accept the permanence of the present Line of Control.The former ambassador asserted that the Indian government 'will give up no territory it now controls, including in Jammu and Kashmir. Officially, India remains committed to the return of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir to India. But the Indian elite would likely settle for the permanent international border being drawn along the current Line of Control. Therefore, unless the Pakistani government and the army change for good their objective and accept the current division of territory, the Kashmir dispute will go on for a very long time. Cross-border terrorist violence from Pakistan against India could resume. The two countries that would be most negatively affected by a convulsion within Pakistan, a country with dozens of nuclear weapons, are India and the United States. Bush Administration policy regarding Pakistan has been adept and effective to this point, but that could change tomorrow if Musharraf is murdered. This is why both India and the United States have such a stake in the emergence of a democratic, stable and prosperous Pakistan. Washington and New Delhi should have a sustained secret dialogue on how best to promote that historic goal.'According to Blackwill, ' When faced with a fruitless strategy, a government has three choices. It can stick with its losing strategy, develop a new strategy or change objectives. In my judgment, Pakistan has not yet made a strategic shift away from its long-time policies of territorial acquisition and cross-border terrorism. Although Pakistan has reduced its effort to push killers across the Kashmiri border, Musharraf implicitly holds out the possibility of Pakistan resuming terror against India if the bilateral talks with New Delhi do not produce favourable results regarding Kashmir... The terrorist infrastructure inside Pakistan - the camps and the instructors, the weapons caches, the communications capabilities, the terrorists themselves - is still in place. Nevertheless, Islamabad holds a losing hand.'Blackwill, who as ambassador to India, was seen in Islamabad as missing no opportunity to criticise Pakistan, however, conceded in an interview carried by the current issue of the magazine, The National Interest, that in the last four years, US-Pakistan relations have 'undergone a significant shift for the better, but one that is not easy to sell to the Indians.'He recalled that the US needed Pakistan in the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets because it wanted to use it as a conduit for weapons to be used by the Mujahideen. He also accused Pakistan of 'systematically lying' to Washington right into the 1990s about its nuclear programme and its ties with the Taliban. He noted that by the second term of the Clinton Administration, the US relationship with Pakistan had once again turned sour, especially after the Musharraf-led coup in 1999. September 11 fundamentally changed that bilateral relationship. 'Once again, we needed Pakistan to wage war in Afghanistan. Our relationship with Pakistan is now much better, one of the major accomplishments of the Bush Administration,' he pointed out.Blackwill said the US has 'captured or killed members of al Qaeda inside Pakistan - hundreds of them - and continue(s) to hunt Osama bin Laden along the Pakistan- Afghanistan border. In sum, Pakistan is a crucial partner of the United States in the global War on Terror.' He said it had not been easy to persuade the Indians that this is a 'sensible and productive' American policy. Many Indians believe that the US- Pakistan relationship is based on an 'incandescent double standard.' He said the Indians 'think that although the administration declares that state supporters of terrorism will be viewed the same way as terrorists themselves, the quintessential state sponsor of terrorism - including against India across the Kashmir border - is in their view given a pass by Washington. I can personally attest that it is not easy to convince them otherwise.'But Blackwill conceded that things are changing. He pointed out that President Musharraf's April visit to India reflected the best bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan in decades. He followed this by noting, 'But, Indians ask, will it last? Pakistan is unstable as a government and a society. This is often the case with one-man rule and especially one-man rule in which serious people, al Qaeda and its allies inside Pakistan, are trying to kill him. There were serious attempts on Musharraf's life within the last year or so, one of which came very close to succeeding. Add to that the thousands of madrassas in Pakistan and the hundreds of thousands of potential jihadis, as well as Taliban sympathisers who travel back and forth across the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.'Blackwill said 'equally problematic' is Gen. Musharraf's 'unwillingness to promote genuine democracy inside Pakistan, despite the fact that the only longer-term answer to the problem of systemic instability in Pakistan is pluralism and democratic expression.' He said, 'Musharraf also hesitates to address seriously the future role and mission of the Pakistani army. For more than 50 years, young cadets - including Musharraf himself - have been taught in Pakistan's military academies that their holy mission was the liberation of all of Kashmir and that the central purpose of Pakistan itself was to further this task Pakistan has used terror as an instrument of attempted change in Jammu and Kashmir. This too has not succeeded.' khalid hasan


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