McCain Valley Visit Evokes Mixed Views18 August 2011
New Delhi: Security and political analysts express mixed views on US Senator John McCain’s two-day visit to the Valley with some terming his visit as a routine “assessment” of the situation, while others describing it as “significant” development with far-reaching implications for the Kashmir issue. Dr Ajai Sahni, Executive Director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management, told Greater Kashmir that McCain visit would have no impact on Kashmir issue, but he conceded that it was an “independent assessment” of the situation by US senator in Kashmir. “I don’t think there is any message in the McCain’s Kashmir visit. He does not represent any high powered group in America,” Sahni said. “We can say it is just an independent American assessment of the situation. Of course he was a high profile candidate during American presidential election. But his visit would have no impact on American, Indian or Pakistan perspective. The ground situation will remain the same as it was”. He said like earlier US Congress delegations who visited Kashmir, McCain would submit report to its party, or the Congress about his assessment of the situation. McCain has been the most influential American to visit the valley in the last two decades. He was the Republican candidate for the 2008 US presidential elections and lost to Barack Obama. He represents Arizona state in the US Senate. Asked the American senator has come at a time when NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan was is in the offing, the noted security analyst said McCain’s assessment might be to gauge the perception in the region “in that context”. “The independent interlocutors would assess the conditions and consequences before the proposed withdrawal of forces begins,” Sahni said, adding, “The NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan is nothing more than political posturing. It’s not necessary that there would be complete withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan”. “McCain would have got the feedback about the situation from the political set up,” Sahni said. The visit became interesting after McCain came straightaway to Kashmir after visiting Pakistan. Political analyst, Professor Gul Muhammad Wani said the visit was significant. “2014 is very important since the NATO is withdrawing from Afghanistan. We may accept it or not Afghanistan is the main irritant between India and Pakistan. As America has strategic-diplomatic challenges in the South Asian region, I think they would be contemplating hard to find ways how to reconcile the Government of India and Government of Pakistan on Afghanistan. But it can happen if Kashmir is settled between the two counties”. He did not rule out the fact that the fallout of Afghan withdrawal would have direct bearing on Kashmir. “The Afghan thing can lead to Indo-Pak relations in adversial mode, and thus there is every apprehension that Kashmir could flare up once again,” Wani said. “Hence Kashmir comes in a larger scheme of American policy. The American opposition plays their role in foreign affairs issue as well”. He said, the person of such a stature as of McCain visiting Kashmir cannot be without a purpose. “His visit cannot be without having political importance. More so when obviously he fought president Obama in the election, visited two countries before meeting the Jammu Kashmir governor, army commanders and chief minister Omar Abdullah,” Wani said. He said it had become earlier diplomatic ritual of the ambassadors and diplomats of several of countries to get updated Kashmir either from security people or political spectrum. Wani said China might be the other reason of his visit as they would like Pakistan to be a buffer state between India and China. “We can also analyze that McCain has come to Kashmir to get the first hand account of internal situation of Kashmir after three hot summers,” He, however, said Kashmir should not expect “miracles” from his visit. “Americans want mutual engagement between India and Pakistan to go on. But the Indo-Pak relations are going on slow pace. There is nothing special happening,” Wani opined.