US Think-tanks Urge Kashmir Dispute Settlement To End Violence2 September 2011
Washington DC: Two new US studies on countering terrorism in South Asia stress the need to resolve the Kashmir dispute to end violence in the region. The US must encourage India and Pakistan to move forward with their dialogue to resolve the Kashmir dispute “and inject ideas into the process to help spur it along”, says a conservative Washington think-tank, the Heritage Foundation. “The strongest case for moving Indo-Pakistani dialogue forward is to improve prospects for Pakistan's future. Islamist extremists whose lifeblood is regional conflict are strengthening their grip in Pakistan,” the study warns. “Indo-Pakistani rapprochement can help reduce conflict in Afghanistan, by reducing competition for influence and the associated violence.” Another Washington think-tank, the New America Foundation, notes that “India's desire that no third country intervene as a mediator in Kashmir can be accommodated without precluding American efforts to positively support bilateral confidence-building measures and underwrite more visible progress on longstanding security challenges.” The think-tank, which advocates moderate views, argues that “there is also a strong case for taking action on Kashmir for Kashmir's sake - to reduce recurring clashes and allow Kashmiris to escape the constant menace of violence and geopolitical manoeuvring. “We therefore recommend, in the context of the regional agenda suggested above and in support of recently resumed India-Pakistan dialogues, that the United States strengthen its commitment to promoting regional confidence-building measures and progress toward resolution of disputes.” The Heritage Foundation, however, focuses on US counter-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan and encourages the Obama administration to continue drone strikes inside Fata while seeking to rebuild its relationship with Islamabad. The New America Foundation urges the US and Pakistan to overcome strains in their ties and build a sustained partnership by bringing transparency to counter-terrorism efforts and by allowing greater American market access to Pakistani products “Drone missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas have helped degrade Al Qaeda's operational capabilities, while also significantly contributing to the US ability to place Al Qaeda on the defensive,” the Heritage Foundation's counter-terrorism task force argues. The Heritage report also urges the US administration to “reject Pakistani assertions that they are incapable of shutting down groups linked to Al Qaeda.” It includes Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harakat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) among such groups and claims that HuM leader was in contact with Osama bin Laden's courier before the May 2 raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader. “Indeed, the US should never settle for Pakistani excuses for avoiding a full-throttle approach against these terrorist groups and instead demand that Pakistan be accountable for the activities of all terrorist groups on its soil.” The report, however, acknowledges that it is in US interest to remain engaged with Islamabad and demonstrate an interest in the development of a prosperous and moderate Pakistan free of the terrorist scourge.