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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Subtle Polemics of Intervention

Preliminaries of President Clintonís five-day visit to India beginning March 20 have entered a bizarre phase. While high ranking officials on both sides are working hard to iron out angularities, the visit is becoming more and more controversial.

Washington is obsessed with two contingencies of the visit. One, it wants to push its own prescription for reducing tension between India and Pakistan, and the other it also wants not to exclude Pakistan from Presidentís visit.

Washington is not as much influenced by Indiaís loud protestations against the President visiting Pakistan as by her own so-called commitment to democratic dispensation. Neither Kargil incursion, nor Pakistan sponsored hijacking of the Indian airliner would cut ice with the Americans. Their problem is how to face the world opinion if the President decides to visit a military man who deposed the elected government and struck at the roots of democracy.

Few in India are able to explain why New Delhi should be excited about the visit of an American President at a time when he is coming to the fag end of his two-year term of presidency. A lackluster visit can, at the best, be called an exciting excursion in stagnated diplomacy. It also shows how immature the ruling party in New Delhi can be.

The bizarre game began with the US President offering his personal services for reducing Indo-Pak tension to the new Pakistan ambassador Maleeha Lodhi when she presented her credentials at the White House. The Indian Prime Minister was quick to respond through a public speech in Jalandhar that India would not accept mediation by a third party.

Unable to swallow the bitter truth, the Defence Secretary Mr. Cohen indiscreetly threatened that the US had a right to intervene in situations that jeopardize international peace. He was specific in mentioning Kashmir as the flash - point. A statement immediately followed this from American Secretary of State endorsing the views expressed by the Defence Secretary Cohen. The duo wanted to impress upon New Delhi that Washington could, if she liked, even take unilateral decision of laying down some hard conditions for the two South Asian nuclear states.

Speculations are rife that Washington is preparing a blue print for Indo-Pak dentate in the context of breaking the ground for the two countries to sign CTBT. To this broad framework, the issue of Kashmir appears to be an adjunct. The premise is that inclusion of Kashmir would send a reassuring message to Pakistan, which, in turn, would exert its influence in restraining the Islamic fundamentalists including Osama now in the hands of Taliban in Afghanistan.

But more than Kashmir and restraining of fundamentalists, Islamabad is concerned about a move on the international forum of considering a seat for India in the Security Council. In order to dissuade Washington from conceding leverage to India, General Musharraf paid hurried visits to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the two countries that carry weight with the State Department in framing major policy perceptions in the region.

Though out of tune, the Hurriyat leaders were euphoric to state that President Clinton was coming with a prescription to resolve Kashmir tangle. Recently Pakistan foreign office has also dropped hints that Presidentís visit to South Asia has something to do with paving the way for Indo-Pak summit.

Layer after layer, these polemics are unfolding. The Indian foreign secretary, Lalit Man Singh said in Washington that there were no conditions whatever attached to the visit of the American President to India. He denied that neither CTBT, nor Kashmir nor Indo - Pak détente were on the agenda of the President. He reaffirmed that it was only a process of creating congenial atmosphere for a better understanding between the two countries.

Islamabad has been playing her cards very carefully. Its message to the State Department is that exclusion of Pakistan from the Presidentís itinerary would mean indirect boosting of terrorism in Pakistan and the region. This is to convey as if Pakistan is victimized by the rising crescendo of terrorism. But Americans may not need to be educated on that issue because it has begun to touch their skin.

In these circumstances, when Washington has adopted an ambivalent posture, what is very clear is that Clinton cannot exclude Pakistan from his itinerary. Its announcement will come at the last moment even if it is just a touch down at Karachi airport and a hug to the military man. After all no civilian or military ruler can exist for a day in Pakistan if he has not the goodwill of the Americans.

It appears unlikely that India will sign the CTBT no matter if the question is linked to India's ícandidature for the membership of the Security Council. The BJP government would not like to take cudgels with its affiliates nor with the recalcitrant Congress, which has, very unfortunately, given up the politics of principles and major issues facing the country and resorted to personalizing of issues political or non-political. New Delhi would also wait till there is a new incumbent in the White House and would watch if there were any significant changes in the fundamental of parity-seeking politics of the US for the subcontinent.

 

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