'US Should Offer UNSC Seat To India To Resolve Kashmir'

27 May 2009
The Indian Express

Washington DC: The US should offer ‘strong and active’ support to India for a permanent UN Security Council seat in return for New Delhi agreeing to 'genuine and enforceable concessions' on the Kashmir issue, a veteran American diplomat has suggested. Cautioning the Obama administration against being ‘too enthusiastic’ in its effort to resolve the Kashmir issue, foreign policy veteran Howard Schaffer said American efforts in the region should involve ‘quiet diplomacy’. Schaffer is a former US Ambassador to Bangladesh and has also served in India and Pakistan. 'Washington needs to look for ways to persuade New Delhi to accept an agreement that does not meet all Indian demands and involves genuine and enforceable concessions on its part,' Schaffer has said in his latest book. In 'The Limits of Influence: America's Role in Kashmir,' Schaffer said: 'An offer of strong and active US support for a permanent Indian UN Security Council seat could be one approach worth weighing'. Indian acceptance of a substantial degree of autonomy for Kashmir would need iron-clad constitutional guarantees to be accepted by the Pakistanis, Schaffer wrote in the concluding pages of his 272-page book. A 36-year veteran of US Foreign Service, Schaffer served as a political counsellor in India from 1977-79 and to Pakistan from 1974-77, besides being appointed as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for South Asian Affairs twice. Schaffer also cautioned the Obama administration from being over enthusiastic in its effort to resolve the Kashmir issue, given the sensitivities of India in this regard. 'Despite its improved relations with the US, the Indians are likely to be more intransigent and more wary of an outsider's role than Pakistan is, at least at first,' he said. If Washington does decide on making stronger effort, US officials should work quietly, he said, advising the administration against directly involving itself. 'Americans should not sit at the negotiating table – a bad idea and one that the Indians will not accept,' he wrote. Keeping to an informal, unobtrusive role, US diplomats will want to discourage any public discussion of their activities, he noted. Advising Obama against dispatching any special envoy as President Kennedy did in 1962, when he assigned Averell Harriman to the task, Schaffer however favoured a private visit by an official having the president's confidence, 'despite the obvious dangers of leaks'. 'The task of acting as the Obama Administration's point persons over the long term should be given to resident US Ambassadors backed by a carefully chosen team operating in the State Department,' he wrote.