Giving 'tough Love' To Pak, Hillary Rejects Mediation In Kashmir

31 October 2009
Times of India

Washington DC: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concluded a turbulent visit to Pakistan on Friday by rejecting Islamabadís persistent thesis that terrorism could not be contained unless the Kashmir issue was resolved. She basically advised Pakistan to abandon the path of extremism and normalize relations with India using the trade route, without obsessing on disputes. While promising to support resumption of dialogue with India on all issues, Clinton repeatedly spurned Pakistani efforts to draw Washington into the process, suggesting such an effort may be counterproductive. 'It is clearly in Pakistan's and India's interest to resolve [their dispute]. But it isn't to us to dictate a solution. That wouldnít last a minute,' Clinton said on the show 'Our Voice,' one of several media engagements she had in Pakistan on an extra-ordinarily public and combative three-day visit. Pakistanís argument, which New Delhi finds insidious, is that terrorism flourishes in the region because of unresolved issues with India, including the Kashmir problem. In not so many words, Washington is now saying Pakistanís problems go far deeper than that, and Clinton sought to drive home the message at several engagements. Quoting díToqueville at one point, Clinton advised Pakistanis to develop 'habits of the heart' that respected other people, tolerated other view points, and developed minority rights. In several nuances remarks, she suggested Pakistan had allowed extremists have a run of the country and that was the root cause of the problems the country is facing. Clinton repeatedly refused to be baited by questions on India or comparisons and parity-seeking with India. She ignored charges that the US had 'bent the rules' to offer India a favorable nuclear deal and politely declined pleas to give Pakistan the same deal, while offering help in other energy sectors. She also dismissed Pakistanís charges that New Delhi was engaging in subversive activities in Balochistan, saying 'we just have no evidence to this effect,' and largely ignored some sulfurous observations about India, including a comment from one female journalist that 'even paranoids have enemies and we have an enemy right across our border.' The angry remarks played into the new US line that Pakistanís India phobia is exaggerated and misplaced and is not shared by the rest of the world. It was also reflected in Clintonís media engagements in Pakistan. At every event featuring Pakistani interlocutors, there were carping questions about the perceived U.S tilt towards India, the nuclear deal. Kashmir, water dispute etc. In five interviews she gave to the western media (PBS, NBC, CNN, CBS, and BBC) during the visit there wasnít a single India reference. Broadly, Americaís top diplomat seemed to tread the emerging US line that largely de-links India from Pakistan's neuroses and engages it at a different level, a policy underscored by a state visit to Washington DC by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh three weeks from now. But more than once, Clinton also indicated that Washington will be happier if New Delhi resumed dialogue with Pakistan. While Clinton was visiting Pakistan, Indiaís National Security Advisor M K Narayanan was in the US capital tying up details of the visit that officials said would aim to consolidate the gains in the US-India ties in the past decade. Also in town was Education Minister Kapil Sibal, aiming to put academic exchanges on top of the agenda for the PM's visit when a US-India Education Council is likely to be announced. Clintonís Pakistan trip attracted wide coverage in the US, more than a US Secretary of Stateís travels typically would. But Clinton herself said at one event that its seldom that a Secretary of State spends three days in a country, and that too with such a large number of public engagements and interactions. While she ostensibly intended it to be a charm offensive, she ended up conveying 'tough love.' Not that she was apologetic about it. 'I did not come here to make happy talk,' she said in one interview, although she was gracious and good-humored. But as much as three-day SoS visits are rare, even more unusual was an under-reported three-hour meeting she had with Pakistanís army chief Pervez Ashfaq Kiyani and the ISI chief, Gen. Shuja Pasha. The meeting came soon after Clinton implicitly accused Pakistanís military and intelligence services of being in cahoots with terrorists, but it was also an indication who the US thinks can deliver the goods in Pakistan.