President-elect Donald Trump can resolve Kashmir – Mike Pence

Vice-President elect Mike Pence stated that US President-elect Donald Trump can use his extraordinary skills to reduce tensions around the world and resolve problems such as the Kashmir Issue and added that the new US administration intends to be fully engaged in South Asia and with India and Pakistan on issues such as Kashmir to promote peace and security. (Hindustan Times December 05, 2016)

Over eight years back President-elect Barrack Obama (October, 2008) referred to Kashmir an interesting situation and said he was ready to explore US´s role to devote serious diplomatic resources to figure out a plausible approach. The former US President Bill Clinton as special envoy, with his vast experience, could be chosen to deal with problem of Kashmir as he had played a vital role in ending the Kargil crises in Kashmir.

President Obama takes office and completely forgets all about Kashmir and on the contrary offers India economic assistance, cooperation in building nuclear reactors and arming it militarily to maintain balance of power in the region mainly to contain the emerging super power China. That was the time when Pakistan was in shambles struggling to fight terrorism, sectarian killings and unprecedented corruption of political mafia within the country. To top it all, India mounted pressure on Pakistan´s eastern and western fronts to weaken Pakistan army´s efforts to face the onslaught backed by Indian military and its intelligence agencies.

US administration gave all possible support to Prime Minister Modi´s government to contain China as required but India soon realised growing Chinese economic progress with galloping speed could not be matched and focused more on its sworn enemy Pakistan instead. India had already been working on investing most of its resources to destabilize Pakistan so that it is declared a failed or terrorist state. Further break-up of Pakistan became imperative keeping in view the challenges faced by India especially on international level about questions raised on the indigenous independence struggle launched by people of Kashmir.

India, frustratingly, while trying to crush uprising in Kashmir with an iron hand started skirmishes on Ceasefire Line in Kashmir with no realization that UNMOGIP (United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan) equipped with renewed facilities and manpower was keeping a stronger vigil to monitor the situation on Ceasefire Line and international border. Scores of lives lost and properties damaged on both sides would not deter India from continuously launching attacks to divert the attention of world community from Kashmir situation. It became worrisome for Pakistan when India exploited its facilitated stay in Afghanistan to engage Pakistan further through pushing in terrorists to cause severe damage to already crumbling Pakistan.

In a turnaround situation, though Pakistan army and civilians suffered huge loss of life, economic indexes at the rock bottom and instability; Pakistan staged a reversal of all cataclysms by containing terrorism, corruption, sectarian killings and more importantly maintenance of law and order. Pakistan in the transition mode especially on the economic front is now inviting attention for enhanced business relations with partners in the Middle East, European Union and making better all time bonded relation with its trusted friend China. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPEC) is already causing ripples in Indian hierarchy and political circles; India looks for some face-saving vis-a-vis its relation with USA.

USA closely monitoring and watching its interests in South-Asia feels that India has failed in the mission assigned. Now that the political equation has changed, Pakistan emerging a key player in the region has consolidated its position and China already on its side, has amazingly to a large extent contained and rebuffed India. Pakistan proved India´s attempts of browbeating through war-mongering, non-existent surgical strikes, using Afghanistan´s soil to unnerve Pakistan army as futile and resultant waste of billions in financial resources culminating in a zero sum game.

In the meanwhile, Pakistan-Russia relations have been growing stronger since Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pakistan in 2014 and last year, a landmark defence deal included the sale of attack helicopters to Pakistan. A consultation meeting on regional issues, economic cooperation and connectivity, was held (December 14, 2016) between the Russian delegation and its Pakistani counterpart. As reported in the Pakistani media, Russia has shown a considerable interest to join CEPEC which Russians denied and said the story is untrue.

Donald Trumps´ nominee for Secretary of Defence, General James Mattis (subject to US Congress confirmation) came as a big surprise in India as General Mattis is known for his military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and more importantly is introduced to top brass of Pakistan army. Pakistan taking a ´stringent line´, to deal diplomatically with US, is quite aware that US has a lot at stake in the region and cannot afford to abandon Pakistan. Pakistan media reports that Commander of US forces in Afghanistan Gen John W. Nicholson had a meeting with Pakistan’s new army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa (December 15, 2016) and discussed developing security situation of the region.

Due to mounting international pressure India in a conciliatory move makes new overtures to Kashmiri leadership offering them some political settlement within the framework of Indian constitution. India has tried the formula before several times as people of Kashmir understand the purpose behind these offers. India knows very well that these kinds of offers would be rejected outright by Kashmiris and what India is hoping for is use of delaying tactics and buy time to ward of the international pressure. Kashmir, as always, will not settle for anything less than total independence.

President-elect Donald Trump administration will be is a better position to broker an acceptable solution for Kashmir imbroglio for all stakeholders as now India depends on a new relationship it has forged with US mainly based on economic cooperation. US is quite aware that enough blood has been spilled in Kashmir and it has become a humanitarian problem for which very little attention is being accorded. Kashmir being a nuclear-flashpoint a resolved Kashmir problem can guarantee peace in south-Asia and the world at large.

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