Indians flay Obama’s comments on Kashmir

3 November 2008
The Daily Times

New Delhi: The Indian government on Monday attempted to downplay US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s comments linking solution of the Afghan conflict with resolution of the Kashmir dispute. In one of his final interviews before the vote, Senator Obama had suggested on Sunday that the US should try to help resolve the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, as part of efforts to address terrorism in the region. Though there was no official reaction, official sources said it “could be pre-election rhetoric and needs to be ignored”. BJP: The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, described Obama’s statement as “an unwarranted interference in India’s internal affairs”. Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said Obama gave such a statement due to the week-kneed policies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Maintaining that Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) was an integral part of India, Prasad said IHK had no links to Afghanistan. Terrorism: He, however, claimed terrorism in both places was rooted in Pakistan. “Militancy at both places can be stamped out by putting sufficient political and diplomatic pressure on Islamabad and its intelligence agencies,” he suggested. The sources indicated that Indo-US ties did not depend on whether there was a Republican or Democrat administration, adding India had bipartisan support in the US, which was evident from the recent nuclear power deal. Government sources, however, said an attitude of trading of terrorism in Afghanistan with terrorism in India was completely unacceptable. “It goes against the current tough stand US has taken against terrorism. Obama’s stand appears more like the stand of politicians in India when they play one community against the other or one state’s interest against another just to protect their chair,” said an official. Meanwhile in IHK, All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman (APHC) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq welcomed Obama’s statement. “I welcome the growing interest of Barack Obama in resolving the Kashmir dispute” he said. Peoples’ Conference Chairman Sajjad Lone, said, “If Obama becomes president and if he exercises his clout to really solve the problems of India and Pakistan, we welcome it. We should welcome anything which puts an end to violence, mayhem and ambiguity.”