Obama's "K" remark generates optimism in Pakistan

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New Delhi, Nov.17 : U.S. President elect Barack Obama's remark suggesting Washington's scope in facilitating a solution to decadesold Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, has generated a new optimism in Pakistan.

In an article titled "Obama for Kashmir solution" published in The Nation, former Pakistan Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad states Obama realises that no strategy or roadmap for durable peace in the region including in Afghanistan would be comprehensive without focusing on the underlying causes of conflict and instability.

"In his (Obama's) view, "the sources of Afghan instability are in Pakistan; those in turn are linked to Islamabad's conflict with New Delhi, at the heart of which is Jammu and Kashmir," Ahmad writes

"In a pre-election television interview, Obama said that his administration would encourage India to solve the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, so that Islamabad can better cooperate with the United States on Afghanistan," he further says.

Ahmad states in his article that the prospect of this new approach emerging in Washington has raised eyebrows in India.

"For months, New Delhi had felt solaced at the hard-line taken by Obama towards Pakistan, including his threats to bomb terrorist bases there if Islamabad failed to act against the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. India never expected what it now fears could develop into a spectre of "American activism" on Kashmir in return for Pakistan's "credible" cooperation in its problems in Afghanistan," Ahmad observes.

He said that for understandable reasons, the reaction in Pakistan and in Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control has been one of euphoric enthusiasm based on the assumption that perhaps Obama would take some concrete steps to help resolve the Kashmir dispute.

That enthusiasm, he adds, has not been ill-placed.

Ahmad stated that Obama's use of the "K" word, after all, was not an off the cuff remark. He had been saying similar things throughout his election campaign.

Ahmad stated that during 2007, summer issue of the journal Foreign Affairs, Obama had argued, "If Pakistan can look towards the east (India) with confidence; it will be less likely to believe its interests are best advanced through cooperation with the Taliban."

He has also been suggesting "a more active US role in fostering a better understanding between the two nuclear armed South Asian neighbours that have fought wars over the decades-old Kashmir question in the past but are now engaged in a peace process."

Ahmad further recounted in the write up that in an interview to Time magazine in October, Obama said Kashmir was a place he wanted to "devote serious diplomatic resources to get a special envoy in there, to figure out a plausible approach." He felt there was "a moment where potentially we could get" the attention of India and Pakistan."

Obama said he had spoken with Bill Clinton about this issue over lunch and also during the election campaign.

He writes that irrespective of India's liking, Obama seems to be convinced that his vision of peace in this region would not materialise unless he unlocked the India-Pakistan confrontational gridlock.

"This would require a high-profile US mediatory effort for which there could be no better person than Bill Clinton," he suggests.

ANI

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