What does Pakistan think of Obama’s India Trip?

Pakistanis are from all accounts rather miffed that President Barack Obama did not stop in Islamabad as part of his Asian tour. The officer corps is the angriest, but it is viewed widely as a put-down.

From a Pakistani point of view, the US and Pakistan have been allies since the 1950s. They stood shoulder to shoulder in the 1980s to fight the Soviet Union’s brutal occupation of Afghanistan. After the September 11 attacks, Pakistan abandoned the Taliban and so made it easier for them to be overthrown, even though they had been to some degree a project of the Inter-Services Intelligence. In recent years, the Pakistani army has waged hard-fought campaigns in Bajaur, Swat, and South Waziristan against Taliban elements, losing hundreds of troops’ lives in the process.

So, Pakistanis ask, why is Washington slighting us after we’ve hung together?

Former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf said that Obama is “not sensitive” to the Pakistani people.

According to the USG Open Source Center translation, columnist Ghazala Tauhid of Jang Urged the US To try to resolve the Kashmir issue:

‘ Claiming that peace cannot be established until issues, like the Kashmir dispute, are resolved, the report states: “If US really wants to establish peace in South Asia, in his capacity as the head of the superpower and above all, being the recipient of noble peace award, Barack Obama will have to pay immediate attention on the outstanding disputes, which have been the cause of controversy between different nations and a cause for the ongoing unrest in the world. In fact, peace cannot be established in letter and spirit until all these problems are peacefully resolved.” ‘

India annexed Muslim-majority Kashmir after the 1947 Partition that created Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India out of the old British India. (India never held the UNSC-mandated popular referendum in Kahsmir on its disposition, which is why I used the word ‘annex.’ Although the Hindu raja of Kashmir acceded to India, this means little; the Muslim Nawab of Hyderabad opposed joining India and Nehru simply invaded and deposed him.) Kashmir has been in rebellion since the late 1980s, seeking independence, and is heavily garrisoned with Indian troops.

In fact, the Indian government bristles at the idea of outside involvement in the crisis,and there is little Obama can do about it.

Pakistanis also often get angry at the idea sometimes broached by American politicians, of handing Afghanistan over to India as a security problem and for economic development. Dr Maria Sultan, head of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, said in an interview in Jang:

“The United States wants to assign more roles to India in Afghanistan. However, instead of proving helpful, the Indian role has becoming a cause in further deepening the crisis. The terrorism spread by the Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in Pakistan through Afghanistan continues in the name of India-US cooperation in war on terror. The fact is that the United States cannot get an honorable way out from Afghanistan and also cannot find the solution of the Afghan problem without giving Pakistan a full-fledged role in that country. The truth is that the way to peace in Afghanistan passes through Srinagar. Therefore, if US President Barack Obama really wants peace in the world and South Asia, instead of maintaing silence, he will have to play the role of an effective mediator.”

The conspiratorial Pakistani conviction that Indian secret agents play a role in causing civil disturbances in Pakistan is probably mostly untrue, but it is unshakable.

India’s gross domestic product is a little over $1 trillion annually. Pakistan’s is roughly $165 bn. There are 250 million middle class Indians who form a larger market than the whole country of Brazil for US goods.

Thus, Pakistan cannot compete with India as a potential trade partner for the US.

Obama had no intention of bringing Kashmir up publicly in Delhi (he isn’t that clueless). As for visiting Islamabad, he’ll do that next year on his way to Kabul.

India rising.

Posted in India | 29 Responses | Print |

29 Responses

  1. Pakistan has been trying to internationalise Kashmir for 60 years without success. If they couldn’t do it when India was politically and economically weak with no say in world affairs, what makes them think they’ll succeed when India is on the up and up and Pakistan is, by all accounts, on the way down?

  2. Dr. Cole,
    I have to take exception to your statement that India annexed Kashmir. It oversimplifies things.
    Kashmir’s ruler was a Hindu, and Kashmir was muslim majority state at that time.
    Pakistan backed tribes invaded Kashmir, fearing that the Raja would accede to India – something that actually forced the King’s hand – He wanted troops to repel the invasion, which the Indian government used to get an accession out of him. The Kashmir accession to the Indian Government was possibly more legal than the Hyderabadi accession.
    If you look at the state – Jammu and Kashmir – the Indian portion is primarily made of Hindu majority Jammu, Buddhist majority Ladakh and Muslim majority Valley.
    Pakistans slice contains “Azad Kashmir”, Gilgit & Baltistan and the Northern terroitories.
    If you go by this study, (commissioned by Gaddafi’s son!) the breakup on the basis of polls is presented here.

    % Preference

    Independence: 43%
    Join India: 21%
    Join Pakistan: 15%
    LoC Made permanent: 14%

    That 43% is concentrated in some parts of the Kashmir valley, and Ladakh and Jammu do not favour independence.

    Say you want to do the right thing, how do you decide what it is? If you hold a plebiscite – and the results are as above – is the plebiscite conclusive?

    The districts with the maximum support for an independent Kashmir are Srinagar(82%) and Anantnag(74%), while the districts with the least support for joining India are Poonch(6%), Baramulla(2%), Rajaur (0%), Srinagar (8%), AnantNag (22%) and Badgam(10%). The other districts have clear majorities wanting to remain part of India.

    In Azad Kashmir(PoK) 44% want Independence and 50% want accession to Pakistan. It’s much more straightforward there, but a consolidated picture is less conclusive(Table 1).

    If the right thing to do is give the state up – it is after all the wish of the largest % of Kashmiris, can Pakistan let go?

    Now, there are a few caveats with the survey results – and they are quite indicative. In PoK, the polls only cover Azad Kashmir and the Northern Territories, and not Gilgit Baltistan, where the sentiment against the Pakistani government is much higher. Similarly there are a couple of districts in J&K where the desire for independence is higher than some of the districts polled. It would be fair to say that overall, the survey errs on the lower side of support for an independent united Kashmir.

    Please remember that China too has annexed a portion of Kashmir – the Aksai Chin, and was also given a gift a large part of Gilgit Baltistan by Pakistan.

    Another thing that is seldom mentioned is the issues on the Pakistani side of Kashmir – and how the Pakis tani Government funds only those groups fighting for a united Islamic Pakistani Kashmir – The LeT, Harkat Mujahideen etc and has sidelined or undermined secular groups like the JKLF.
    Ultimately, Kashmir under India is more useful to Pakistan than an independent Kashmir. It allows Pakistan to blame the RAW for destabilizing Pakistan and funding terrorism and civil unrest.

    My personal view is that this is a classic prisoner’s dilemma. India does not trust Pakistan not to invade Kashmir if Indian troops pull out. Pakistan does not trust India not to reclaim PoK if it demilitarizes. Neither state is really interested in an independent Kashmir – though I suspect India will not really have issues unless Kashmir goes to Pakistan. Another thing that Indians feel strongly about is the ethnic cleansing (and this is not hyperbole) of the Kashmiri pandit community since the 80s.

    Ultimately its a dance – neither side desires progress over the status quo. Maybe Obama understands that. And also maybe the fact that India is buying a phenomenal amount of defence equipment has something to with it.

  3. Dear Professor Cole

    Obama had no intention of bringing Kashmir up publicly in Delhi (he isn’t that clueless). As for visiting Islamabad, he’ll do that next year on his way to Kabul.

    Are you saying he is clueless otherwise?

    • Obama is actually pretty clever. He knows that asking India for Kashmir’s independence would be equivalent to the US shooting itself in the foot. China will most certainly warm up to the idea of Kashmiri independence and that’s why Pakistanis are in the Beijing camp. The Chinese are simply looking to for a shortcut to the Arabian sea to challenge American national interests and energy security. It doesn’t matter whether that road goes through an independent Kashmir and Pakistan, or simply Pakistan (if the LoC is made the de factor border between India and Pakistan.) The only way for America to pre-emptively safeguard its own interests is by sternly asking Pakistan to back off from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, thus eliminating a border between China and Pakistan. I suppose Musharraf is open to that, but he said the day before that Pakistan wants something in return. Perhaps a few million dollars in a swiss bank account would work out just fine~!

    • I would love to see the US start losing these competitions on a regular basis.

      It’s the dilemma of an empire trying to hold onto the status quo. It doesn’t dare sell its best stuff to anyone anywhere in the world that it might one day have to fight, while more modest great powers are free to sell their best stuff outside their sphere of influence.

  4. India did not annex the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The fact is that the ruler of the state signed the instument of accession to accede to the Union of India. Later the elected legislature of the State of J & K ratified this decision.
    On the other hand, Pakistan invaded Jammu & Kashmir immediately after partition in a bid to annex the state which forced the rler of the state to seek India’s assistance.
    This is the real narrative which you must be aware of.

  5. India did not annex Jammu & Kashmir.
    The real historical fact is that after the Partition of India & Pakistan, each ruler of the princely state in the subcontinent was given a choice to accede to either Indiaand Pakistan on the lapse of British Paramountcy.
    Before the ruler of Jammu & Kashmir could decide, Pakistan invaded the state with the specific ntent of annexing the state. The beleagured ruler then soought India’s assistance which was provided after he acceded to the Union of India. Later the elected legislature of the state ratified this decision. Thus India did not annex the state as stated in this blog.

  6. >>India annexed Muslim-majority Kashmir after the 1947 Partition <<

    Kashmir wanted to remain independent of India and Pakistan after the 1947 partition. Pakistan sent in an army of tribals. Under these circumstances, the Maharaja of Kashmir acceded to India, so that Indian troops could be sent in to protect Kashmir from the tribals. India did not ANNEX Kashmir in 1947.

    [In October 1947, Muslim revolutionaries in western Kashmir and Pakistani tribals from Dir entered Kashmir intending to liberate it from Dogra rule. Unable to withstand the invasion, the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession that was accepted by the government of India on 27 October 1947.] – link to en.wikipedia.org

    I see that you have pointed to the recent killings of stone-throwing protestors in Kashmir, mostly young boys aged between 15 and 23.

    Your readers may find this article useful –
    link to tehelka.com

  7. Obama has just been saying there is a cancer within Pakistan which could engulf the country. The tea-partiers are getting everywhere it would seem.

    He’s made some complimentary remarks about Islam – apparently the majority of followers of islam are reasonable people – and he seems to be a recent convert to the idea that

    “violence against innocent people is never justified.”

    In his comments regarding Pakistan’s government he is obviously keen to maintain the importance of selling large amounts of weaponary to them as well.

    On Martin Luther king and Gandhi who, as I have said, will be spinning in their graves over Obama’s arms sales trip, he has said:

    “Gandhi, Sir Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln are people we are constantly reading and studying about. I’m often frustrated by how far I fall short of their example.”

    (and he can say that again).

    He has just finished paying his respects at the tomb of Humayun (son of the famous Babur), who was a heavy drinker, opium addict who was apparently not as keen on warfare as was usual in those days, preferring to spend a lot of time in his harem.

    Most of the arms sales will already have been agreed, of course and Obama is continuing to push Monsantos agenda in his talk of a new “Green Revolution.”

  8. My personal take on this is no nation, least of all the US, is ever “sensitive” enough for the alleged tender feelings of Pakistanis. If Obama came, they would lament he stayed longer in India. If he stayed longer in Pakistan they would say he spent more money in India than he did in Pakistan. I don’t really blame them. Playing colonial guilt (often well earned guilt) has worked fairly well now for some time since the Post WWII period. There was, after all, much to be guilty about. But its utility has diminished. And some entities have a hard time reconciling themselves to this.

    In my opinion, much of the mess the Pakistani govt finds itself in is of its own making. That is always a painful thing to admit. The US is proof of that. I would argue.

    • I think that the whining you describe is especially acute in those post-colonial states that aren’t real nations to begin with. Pakistan is literally an abbreviation for its four regions, P, A, K and I (Indus = Sindh). Which I’m sure only works in English. It’s as if British bureaucrats just dumped this zone on the appropriate colonial Army and said, “It’s yours.”

  9. India is being made to prop as Pakistan was during the late 50’s and 60′,when FM Ayub was at the helm of affairs. Now was another chance for Pakistan to bounce but it was not desired and hence Zardari got thrusted on Pakistan by CIA. So long as he stays not only that new investments are hardly likely, but the existing one’s are closing down. He is the worst that could happen to Pakistan. Meanwhile he is in the process of creating sind card and spread it and is not bothered about the country except how to cover his tracks and fill his coffers.

  10. Your remarks about Kashmir assume that support for an independent nation of Kashmir is monolithic among Kashmiris. But recent opinion polls on both sides of the LoC show huge regional and other variations. There is not even an overall majority supporting independence. Even in the Kashmir Valley, where a large majority does favor independence, a similarly large majority would welcome a liberalized India-Pakistan border at the current LoC.

    Under present citizenship laws, everyone east of the LoC automatically has Indian citizenship, whereas west of the LoC one may apply for Pakistani citizenship, but it is not automatic. There is no dual Indian-Pakistani citizenship.

    By the way, the name Hindustan, is a common synonym for India, but does not imply “Hindu India”. The latter is no more correct than “Christian United States”. Less, if anything: when India had a president with Hussain in his name, no one made a fuss.

  11. India rising… Yes, but let’s not get carried away. The GDP of India is still below Spain’s by a good chunk. China’s is 3 times India’s. India’s extreme poverty is growing, despite all the IT hype, which is a minuscule part of India’s economy.

    That said, the surest way for India to remain a minnow on the larger geopolitical scene is to cling to Kashmir. Just as Kissinger had dreams of a perpetual Iraq-Iran war, I can assure you that Hu Jintao dreams of a Kashmir conflict going on forever: the quickest way to make India an also-ran. So to all those Indian nationalists who see all of Asia through the prism of Kashmir, I say “enjoy the view and get used to your 3rd world status because, with that attitude, you’re going to be stuck with it for a long, long time”

  12. >>The terrorism spread by the Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in Pakistan through Afghanistan continues in the name of India-US cooperation in war on terror.<<

    Is there any need too provide any evidence for this or is this inherently true? If India's role is as clear as day, why don't we see any evidence?

  13. Pakistan can now meet-up with the Democratic base and with MoveOn in the OFsA (Obama’s Feckless sense of Association) club.

  14. Professor Cole,

    >>From a Pakistani point of view, the US and Pakistan have been allies since the 1950s. They stood shoulder to shoulder in the 1980s to fight the Soviet Union’s brutal occupation of Afghanistan. After the September 11 attacks, Pakistan abandoned the Taliban and so made it easier for them to be overthrown, even though they had been to some degree a project of the Inter-Services Intelligence. In recent years, the Pakistani army has waged hard-fought campaigns in Bajaur, Swat, and South Waziristan against Taliban elements, losing hundreds of troops’ lives in the process.

    So, Pakistanis ask, why is Washington slighting us after we’ve hung together?<<

    Frankly, we were never allies of Washington. We were actually lackeys and toadies. We were never threatened by Soviet Union. Actually it wooed us right after independance when Joseph Stalin invited Liaquat Ali, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan to visit Moscow. Yet, we chose to fawn over US by joining anti-Communist alliances. No self-respecting country gives cedes its sovereignty as Pakistan did by giving CIA access to operate anywhere in the country. Remember the U-2 incident, when a US plane took off from a Pakistani base and reached moscow and compounded the confrontation between two super powers.

    At the same time, US tried to enlist India on its side against USSR. Now compare India's response with Pakistan's attitude. Nehru rejected Washington's efforts saying that India was not going to be a "camp-follower" of any great power, and chose a more respectful place instead. He spearheaded the formation of Non Aligned Movement and earned respect for his country.

    Late Professor KK Aziz told me that present-day Pakistan is playing same role with US vis-a-vis India as Muslim League did with the British vis-a-vis Indian National Congress. Pakistan has displayed extreme hostility to India after Partition while at the same time being submissive to Washington. Likewise, Muslim League did Britain's bidding while locked in mortal perpetual confrontation with Congress during British raj.

    It is instructive to see where is India and where is Pakistan. Look at the recent coverage by British newspapers. Economist's latest issue has likened India with a roaring tiger and has called its economic progress as a miracle; whereas the Independant has raised questions about Pakistan's viability and has asked if it is a failed state.

    Click here
    link to economist.com


    link to independent.co.uk

    If we Pakistanis bewail this sorry state of affairs, we have ourselves to blame. We rejected progressive and semi-revolutionary leadership of Congress led by Nehru and Subhash Bose, and chose reactionary and feudal leadership of Muslim league. Jawaharlal Nehru tells us in his 'Discovery of India' that if India is partitioned, reactionary and feudal vested interests will become stronger . He also said that in independant India there will be no place for feudal lords. We gathered around Muslim League's reactionary leadership and divided India. In India there were land reforms, and in Pakistan, feudal obscurantists became stronger and our life was benighted forever, irredeemably.

    Dr. Saleem Qureshi is Professor Emeritus of University of Alberta, Edmonton. He had taught at that university for 44 years. He says "partition of India was a disaster for Muslims, and Muslims are are so stupid that they cannot even realise it."

    • Dr Saleem
      U want us to believe what u believe about partition. Only because we are in a sorry state of affairs because of the present incompetent, uneducated and corrupt government. Joke of the year is that he has been made to believe that what he is doing is really wonderful.
      Now for goodness sake Mr Qureshi do not repeat the rut that partition was a mistake. I would repeal only over my dead body. So for goodness sake stop the Indian propaganda soiled in different words
      We hear a lot about India shinning – but they were mum when Pakistan shone and that too like a flood light during President Ayub’s time. It was then when General Karyapa recntly retired praised Pakistan for her fast development and wished India followed the example.
      So if the Bhuttos (Includes the founder) have ransacked the country because of their ineptitude, lack of governance ability, incompetence et all, it does not mean that partition was wrong. Only that we did not hold it the manner it should have been. The fault to a great degree is that of the sardari and feudel
      system. But this was getting to be in control until the dictatorial democracy of the Bhutto came and pushed the country into a yawning gap which is still in a lock jam with the fourth PPP govt where neither they nor the people have learnt any lessons. But the partition of India was the need of the hour. But looking back in retospect- this is what Nehru also may have wanted it. So that there is no rival in the shape of Q’azam for the PM of India which the great Nehru had eyes on.

  15. Americans have every right to know what a President spends on a trip. The American people are being fleeced by big busness and big government. The longer they support the sense of entitlement the worse things will get. There are more billionaires now than ever before and more people are losing their homes than ever before. The gap between rich and poor is looking more like the Grand Canyon. Americans have to take back government from the elites before the country is destroyed.

    • I find it rather ironic that Obama says he’s trying to create more economic ties with India in order to boost jobs here in the US, while at the same time he is letting American corporations get away with outsourcing jobs to India. But hey, I shouldn’t expect anything different from a man whose only claim to fame is being able to get away with doing the opposite of what he says he’ll do. And it helps that he is firmly embedded in the back pockets of some the biggest outsourcers of jobs on this side of the pond.

      • Unlike China, India does not run a big balance of payments surplus with the US. I don’t understand the urban myth that they’ve stolen jobs. Expanding trade creates jobs. You guys need Macroeconomics 101. Look up the lump of labor fallacy.

        • Despite what Tom Friedman says, the global economy isn’t playing on a flat and level playing field until top-executive jobs across America are also shipped to low-wage countries. I would find this to be particularly appealing not only because it would enable top executives to get a taste of their own medicine, as they join their underlings in the great global race to the bottom, but it would also enable our corporations to save hundreds of millions of dollars by not having to pay their top executives more than what the global market demands. But this won’t happen as long as top executives are in cahoots with their board of directors to keep their wages and benefits uncompetitively high, and as long as shareholders are powerless to do anything about it.

          With that said, I still think that it’s only a matter of time before the world’s largest companies that produce things other than food and bottled water are headquartered in Asia and all of their CEOs are Asian born and live there, forcing American CEOs to join the ranks of the unemployed.

          This is patently obvious to anyone whose head isn’t in the sand.

          Power always follows production, which is the heart of any economy. So when American corporations decided to offshore production to Asia so they could teach their greedy American workers a lesson and vastly overpay their CEOs while vastly underpaying their Asian workers, they dug their own grave and engraved their own tombstone.

        • And how does outsourcing IT jobs to India create jobs in the US? It simply does not. It helps create a vacuum in the labor force between the highly skilled and the unskilled. Or so say Blinder and Reich. And both teach Macro 101…

  16. Obama’s patronising speech to the Indian parliament was full of cheap flattery of the Indian elite in a attempt to lure them further away from an independent stance and towards alliance with US commercial and military interests.

    There was a pretty ugly reference to the “Islamic Republic of Iran” in the context of supporting India’s accession to permanent status on the UN Security Council and it was pretty clear from the references to Afghanistan that there is going to be no early withdrawal.

    Obama should hang his head in shame at repeating the racist nonsense that the United States of America is the world’s oldest democracy.

    He got slapped down in a very dignified fashion by the speaker, Meira Kumar, who gently reminded Obama of India’s own ancient democratic traditions and HIS responsibility regarding global peace – quoting Martin Luther King on the need for people to find a way to live together in peace.

    She also mentioned the disinherited ones – any mention of India’s poor having been conspicuously absent from the whole of Obama’s 45 minute speech.

  17. I read a rediculious and misleading statement that Mahraja of Kashmir acceded to India. The Partition award was clear that in case of majority muslim areas the will of the people will decide which way to go and similarly in case of Hindu majority areas. That is wwhy reefrendum was held in NWFP when the local govt had decided to accede to India. Heavy majority decided for Pakistan. For Kashmir this was violated. Even the security council has mandated for a plebicite in Kashmir – which ofcourse th Indians will know what the result would be-now or even a hundred years later.

  18. The often talked about plebescite, per UN resolutions, could take place only after both Pakistan and India vacate their troops out of Kashmir. That means Pakistan army will have to pull out of the so called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit area and China will have to vacate Aksai Chin as well as the land that Pakistan illegally gave away to China near the Karakoram region. Is this likely to happen? If not, why harp on plebescite? In the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir region all the Hindus and Sikhs have been driven out by ethnic cleansing. Does plebescite carry meaning anymore?

  19. Obama should convince Pakistan to give up on its headless Kashmir ambition. A China containment policy will not work until entire Kashmir is rightfully made a part of India (on the basis of the instrument of accession signed by the king of Kashmir) and thus eliminating Pakistan’s desire to have a border with China. Doing anything less would leave the door wide open for the Chinese to take a shortcut to access the warm waters of the Arabian sea. The Himalayas have stood the test of time. But if we simply sit idle until the Himalayan barrier is breached, that would be the time to write off the future of the world. An aberration of a two-century Anglosphere will be replaced by a sinocentric world order for a very long time. The choice is ultimately ours to make.

    What the US needs to get right about Pakistan:
    1. Pakistan is not an ally, not even a half ally.
    2. The billions doled out to Pakistan has not and will never be used for cleaning up terrorist organizations in Pakistan.
    3. Pakistan is doing everything possible to ensure a US strategic defeat in Afghanistan.

    Recommended reading:
    Plan B: The de facto Partition of Afghanistan, Robert Blackwill:
    link to dyn.politico.com
    Pakistan’s plans to prevent actualization of the US’ plans:
    link to tribune.com.pk

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