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US sows discord in South Asia

– By M K Bhadrakumar

Two templates in regional politics are seriously debilitating the United States’s campaign to bring Pakistan down on its knees in the Afghan endgame. One is that Delhi has distanced itself from the US campaign and pursues an independent policy toward Islamabad.

The second factor frustrating US policies to isolate Pakistan is the South Asian nation’s bonhomie with Iran. Pakistan would have been pretty much isolated had there been an acute rivalry with Iran over the Afghan endgame. The current level of cordiality in the relationship enables Islamabad to focus on the rift with the US and even draw encouragement from Tehran.

It’s baloney

A recent statement by the Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on the US-Pakistan rift underscored that India doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the US approach. (See US puts the squeeze on Pakistan, Asia Times, October 22). It was carefully timed to signal to Washington (and Islamabad) that Delhi strongly disfavored any form of US military action against Pakistan.

There is a string of evidence to suggest that the Pakistani leadership appreciates the Indian stance. The general headquarters in Rawalpindi acted swiftly on Sunday to return to India within hours a helicopter with three senior military officers on board which strayed into Pakistani territory in bad weather in the highly sensitive Siachen sector. The official spokesman in Delhi went on record to convey India’s appreciation of the Pakistani gesture. Such conciliatory gestures are rare (for both sides) in the chronicle of Pakistan-India relationship.

Again, last week, India voted for Pakistan’s candidacy for the Asia-Pacific slot among the non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and the Pakistani ambassador promptly responded that he would work with his Indian counterpart in New York. Ironically, the UN has been a theater for India and Pakistan’s frequent clashes over the Kashmir problem. ….

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