Obama’s visit to India starts at crucial time with lots of speculations and media hype over an environment of intense mistrust amongst the collation partners on WOT. Analysts term this visit difficult for diplomacy and crucial for exit strategy of war in Afghanistan. The challenge is how to avoid the 2Ks (Kashmir and killings) for giving space to diplomacy with India and at same time do not compromise on 2Cs (confidence level with collation partners and control over Afghanistan situation ) which remain pivotal to any future policy in the region.
The Kashmir region discussed by India as a bilateral issue is divided among three countries in a territorial dispute: Pakistan controls the northwest portion (Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir), India controls the central and southern portion (Jammu and Kashmir) and Ladakh, and China controls the northeastern portion (Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract). India controls the majority of the Siachen Glacier area including the Saltoro Ridge passes, whereas Pakistan controls the lower territory just southwest of the Saltoro Ridge. India controls 101,338 km2 (39,127 sq mi) of the disputed territory, Pakistan 85,846 km2 (33,145 sq mi) and China, the remaining 37,555 km2 (14,500 sq mi).The denial of visa by China to an Indian Army’s Northern Command Chief Lt General BS Jaswal in a delegation, saying the officer oversees Jammu and Kashmir which according to Beijing is a disputed area has added new dimensions to Kashmir in the region.
The HR violations in Indian part of Kashmir which remain under control of half-a-million Indian soldiers and paramilitaries is now recognized by world Human rights organizations. Indian writers like Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy is being charged with sedition over comments she made about the disputed province of Kashmir she defended by saying, “I pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, I said what millions of people here say every day”. The reports confirm of arrests and violence against ordinary civilians under extra coercive powers given to Indian army. The Indian Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) report alleges Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, a serving officer from the Indian Army arrested for acts of terror after the 2008 Malegaon Blasts and terrorist attack on Samjhota Express train in 2007. The report confirms that Purohit routed funds from Abhinav Bharat Trust, a Hindu nationalist organization.
Former Maharashtra Inspector General of Police S. M. Musharraf writes in his book, “Who killed Karkare, the Real Face of Terrorism in India” (reference: page 182).that,” all the reports that were available to him suggest that the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) was aware of the attack at least five days in advance. However, it is strange that they did not pass on this information to the Mumbai Police”. Such reports point fingers at a network functioning fully backed by elements in Indian military intelligence, extremist political party, RSS ,IB and RAW. Despite this there are reports that India is aiming to finalise a $5.8 billion defence agreement with the United States. This deal along with all potential support services and spares is the biggest-ever defence deal between the two countries till now, a senior government official told Reuters. Another official said the actual announcement could be made during President Obama’s visit. Obama will face these realities in back drop of American law which requires that the United States should cut off financing and defence deals with foreign militaries that are found to have committed gross violations of human rights.
Obama’s Indian visit with elections waiting at home front will have strategic and moral implications for both US government and the ruling party. American image already suffers on moral grounds after Wikileaks and drone attacks with Philip Alston, the UN’ Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions saying that the drone strikes “might violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” The Afghan end game scenario requires minimizing trust deficit to synergize efforts. Will Obama weigh the logics or the hawks will prevail will be decided in coming days.
Hamid Waheed is a freelance analyst. His area of focus is International Relations and Strategic Studies. He contributes to various publications. He writes for Opinion Maker.