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Clinton must keep his hands off Kashmir - The Free Press Journal

A.N. Dar ()
June 30, 1998

Title: Clinton must keep his hands off Kashmir
Author: A.N. Dar
Publication: The Free Press Journal
Date: June 30, 1998

A dangerous situation, not taken in fully by the government and
public opinion here so far, has arisen. This has been brought
about by President Clinton's open invitation to China to
intervene in the Indo-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir. That he had
no business to do so is beside the point. But he has sown the
seed of a new ambition in China and given rise to an excuse for
Pakistan to bring in another country which can internationalise
the dispute even if America remains outside.

This is an unfair intervention by the President of the United
States. He has not moved towards peace but has levelled the
ground for a new conflict between India on one side and Pakistan
and China, tacitly supported by the United States, on the other.
President Clinton is being deeply partisan.

Addressing the National Geographic Society in Washington recently
he said ecause of its history with both countries (India and
Pakistan), China must be a part of any ultimate resolution of
this matter. One hasty reason for Clinton's invitation to China
to meddle in Indo-Pak affairs could perhaps be his desire to draw
an advantage from China during his trip. This could ingratiate
the Chinese towards the Americans and make Clinton's current trip
more fruitful for him.

But that is only a short-term advantage America can draw. What is
worse is the suggestion that China can start thinking of being an
arbiter, or at least a participant, in disputes between India and
Pakistan. This will be a dangerous move. India must counter it

President Clinton is intelligent enough to know what his remark
could lead to. It is a way of encircling India by forces which
will make Kashmir a hot issue to handle. He has given birth to an
ambition in China to meddle in Kashmir. China will take it up
seriously because it gives it the position of the arbiter of
destinies in South Asia. Even if with Indian displeasure
President Clinton walks away from this suggestion, this will
remain to be one of China's foreign policy ambitions which it
will want to pursue.

Those who advised President Clinton to make this suggestion do
not want a peaceful resolution of disputes but their
continuation, which Will weaken India. In a different context it
is a repeat of what happened in 1947-48 when India went to the
United Nations to complain against Pakistan's tribal invasion of

This is stated to have been one of Nehru's innocent mistakes. He
and his advisers had made no assessment of the lack of support
India had in the world body. The complaint was enmeshed in the
intrigues of the Anglo-American bloc which brushed aside the
Indian accusation that Pakistan was the aggressor. The debates
went on to set up commissions and appoint delegations for
negotiations, all of which placed India and Pakistan on an equal
footing and gave a foothold to Pakistan in Kashmir. Remember this
was the time when the Kashmir war was on and India could have
thrown Pakistani invaders out of Kashmir. But India in good faith
accepted the cease-fire which enabled Pakistan to have a standing
which it enjoys today in Kashmir. Worse is going to happen if
President Clinton will have his way in inducting China in the
Kashmir dispute. India should be warned of a bad turn of events
to come.

The scenario of what is going to happen is fairly clear: China
will be ever too eager to join in intervening in the dispute
between India and Pakistan. It already has under its control a
good part of the Kashmir territory which Pakistan has gifted to
it. Pakistan will like China to be the third, and perhaps the
prime, participant in resolving this dispute. (Have we forgotten
the school text-book story of two crows leaving it to the monkey
to distribute their loaf of bread?) That means the dice will be
loaded against India. The fourth major partner will be the United
States (even if we forget Britain and sundry other countries
wanting to have a finger in the Kashmir pie). President Clinton
should be asked if there is a dispute between America and Mexico,
can we ask Cuba to be a participant in resolving it?

Our friends, half-hearted because of the May 11 explosion has
placed them in a defensive position, may help here and there but
they don't have a big stick to wield for us. Two of these are
France and Russia. They may be sympathetic to India but against
the combined onslaught of the USA, Britain, China and Pakistan,
they will not be able to do enough.

We should recognise this. In fact, we should have recognised this
well before May 11. The Prime Minister's think-tanks if there are
any, should have started the exercise of what would happen if
India went in for a test. True, you could not have had an
exercise of this kind by telling the world what India was going
to do. But think-tanks always keep working on theories arid this
should have been placed before them at the time the Prime
Minister asked his scientists to go in for the test.

The first question that the think-tanks could have been asked is
what would happen if India carried out a test and in a few days
Pakistan did the same. This is what happened but India was
surprisingly not ready to face this, fact.

The United States has already made it known that it is no
sympathiser of the Indian view. It considers Kashmir as a
isputed territory. It is not going to walk away from that
position. The Chinese position is worse. It already occupies a
part of Kashmir territory which Pakistan has gifted to it. China
has gone back to its old grudges against India, which it had kept
on the backburner. It has reiterated that India has occupied
90,000 square km of its territory. Its view of the 1962 war:
riven beyond the limits of forbearance, China's border troops
fought back in self-defence.

Similar were the statements the Chinese made in 1962 and then one
day they decided to send down their troops into the Himalayan
planes of India. But something else could also be true. In the
1971 war China made angry statements and while everyone,
including India and Pakistan, thought that it would intervene in
favour of Pakistan, it didn't. China goes by its own interests.
We forgot this in giving it a handle to turn against us.

To sound an unlikely warning, it could decide that the time has
come for it to strike in, say, Arunachal or Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan would join in. China has forgotten the advice it only
recently gave to Pakistan: keep the Kashmir issue aside and
settle other disputes to prepare for a compromise. China is now
an angry neighbour, although it still wants eaceful

Atal Behari Vajpayee has expressed concern over the nexus between
China and Pakistan. He told an interviewer about China: e shall
re-energise the existing mechanism of dialogue to address all
issues of mutual concern to move towards even better relations.
He said India will continue to pursue efforts to build a friendly
and cooperative relationship with China. Well said.

If this is his objective, he has some questions to answer. Why
did he not stop George Fernandes, one of his most senior
ministers, from his tirade against China? The greater pity is
that Fernandes was not giving out the official policy but his
personal views. Fernandes did much harm.

He says that he never calls China an nemy but a hreat=94.
These semantics do not mean much. What matters is that in
confronting Pakistan we should not have created another enemy in
China. Now we have America, Pakistan, China, to give only a
small list, ranged against us. Atal Behari Vajpayee would have to
be a hydra-banded defender to stave off our enemies and critics.

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