Hindu Vivek Kendra
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Perils in Presidential Peacemaking (Excerpts)

Perils in Presidential Peacemaking (Excerpts)

The New York Times
March 27, 2000
Title: Perils in Presidential Peacemaking (Excerpts)
Author: Editorial
Publication: The New York Times
Date: March 27, 2000

By his debatable decision to include military-ruled Pakistan  in his South Asian itinerary, President Clinton set himself a tough challenge. He needed to make sure that his presence there could not be construed as American endorsement of the  coup that brought General Musharraf to power five months  ago, or of the dangerous policies Pakistan has followed  since, including border incursions on Indian-ruled Kashmir, cozy ties with terrorist groups and a continued commitment  to nuclear weapons development. In his six-hour stop in  Islamabad on Saturday, including a 90-minute meeting with General Musharraf and an unflinching television address to  the Pakistani people, Mr. Clinton delivered the right  messages, but he did not get a helpful response. Indeed,  General Musharraf, in a surreal news conference following the visit, sounded as if he had not heard a word Mr.  Clinton said.

Because of the close intelligence links that grew up between  the United States and Pakistan during the cold war and the  effort to expel Russian troops from Afghanistan, some  Pakistani military leaders imagine that Washington will  automatically back them in any future conflict.  Mr.  Clinton's top priority was to refute that dangerous  assumption.  But he also needed to make clear, as he did  in his television address, that America values its long  years of friendship with Pakistan and that ties between  the countries could warm again if more sensible policies took hold in Islamabad. Specifically, Pakistan must take  a more peaceful approach to Kashmir, sever ties with  terrorists and move convincingly toward signing the  nuclear test ban treaty and restoring democracy.

Presidents are often drawn to foreign affairs in the final months of their term because domestic initiatives become  entangled in campaign politics.  But as Mr. Clinton  discovered over the weekend, there is no guarantee that  diplomatic efforts will be productive, especially in chronic trouble spots like South Asia and the Middle East.

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