Kashmir Not On My Plate, Says Holbrooke

19 February 2009
The Hindu

Washington DC: US special envoy Richard Holbrooke has confirmed that Kashmir is not part of his mission, but hoped India and Pakistan would find common cause to reduce the threat of terrorism by taking it head on. 'Yes, it is not part of my mission to work on Kashmir,' the envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan told PBS television in an interview when asked what was going to be President Barack Obama's goal since as a candidate he had suggested that the US should probably help try to resolve the Kashmir crisis. Asked to comment on a new book by David Sanger of the New York Times suggesting that the Pakistani military's support of the Taliban stems in large part from their fear of India, which they believe is gaining a foothold in Afghanistan, Holbrooke called it 'an interesting point.' 'This is the first time since the independence of Pakistan and India, over 60 years ago, that India, Pakistan, and the United States share a common threat from the terrorists,' said the envoy who returned this week after a tour of the region. 'The people who did 9-11 in the United States, the people who attacked Mumbai, and the people who seized Swat all come from the same roots and all are located in the same area,' he said. 'As everyone knows, the Pakistan army has been focused on India for decades. Most of us believe that they ought to reorient their attention much more to the west,' Holbrooke said. 'But in order to do that, there has to be much more confidence between Pakistan and India.' 'The terrorist attack in Mumbai was conducted by very shrewd, ruthless murderers. The terrorists who launched that attack were trying to upset the improving relations between Pakistan and India,' he said. 'The Indians did not play into their hands. The Indians restrained themselves. And the Pakistanis did not move troops to the border,' Holbrooke said. 'But we have got to understand that to get the Pakistanis to focus on the west, we have to have a reduction in tensions between India and Pakistan.' 'It is our hope that India and Pakistan, who have faced off against each other and fought several wars in the last 60 years, are now going to find the common cause to reduce this threat by taking it on head on,' he said. In India, 'We were welcomed and we had very excellent consultations, said Holbrooke who visited New Delhi after going to Pakistan and Afghanistan. India is not joining next week's policy review of the Afghan-Pakistan region. But they would be sending senior officials to Washington 'a couple of weeks down the road.'