In response to U.S. pressure, India and Pakistan recently conducted their first diplomatic dialogue since the Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba staged its terrorist attack on Mumbai in November 2008. The discussions were acrimonious, and the blame game began almost immediately after. As a precondition for substantive negotiations, India demanded punishment of the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack and a crackdown on Lashkar-e-Taiba’s paramilitary operations. Pakistan repeated its longstanding position that negotiations on other issues cannot proceed unless the Kashmir issue is addressed.
To promote a détente, the U.S.should support Pakistan’s embattled president, Asif Ali Zardari, in his escalating struggle with the generals in Islamabad over the terms of peace with New Delhi. The principal obstacle to peace is the Pakistan Army, which needs tensions with India to justify the enormous, U.S.-subsidized defense budgets that underpin its privileged status in Pakistan. Serving and retired generals run a variety of Army-linked business conglomerates with net assets exceeding $38 billion.