By Sajjad Shaukat
Earlier, the US President Obama had recognized an inter-relationship between war against terrorism in Afghanistan, issue of Kashmir and arms race between Pakistan and India. No doubt, he wanted to increase troops in Afghanistan for combating terrorism, but had repeatedly said that the United States should help in resolving the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India to deal with the problem of militancy in the region. In this context, on September 25, 2008, Obama, while accusing President Bush’s policies in the region, offered it as part of his policy to encourage India and Pakistan to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and resolve the Kashmir problem to reduce nuclear dangers in South Asia. On a number of occasions, he had re-affirmed the solution of Kashmir as one of his key priorities. In this regard, even after his election as the president of the sole superpower, his aides have also expressed similar thoughts. For example, Mr Riedel had disclosed that settling the Kashmir issue “is essential for fighting terrorism.”
While on the other hand, President Obama’s recent visit to India has left a negative impact on whole the region. On November 6, this year, he announced $10 billion in trade deals with New Delhi to create more than 50,000 US jobs, declared the measures, America would take regarding removal of Indian space and defence companies from a restricted “entities list”, and supported Indian demand for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council including membership of four key global nuclear nonproliferation regimes, paid a tribute to victims of the Mumbai attacks. Owing to various agreements with New Delhi, India is likely to purchase C-17 and F35 aircrafts along with latest defence-related equipments from Washington.
America which signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008, intends to make India a great power of Asia to contain China and destablise Pakistan as well as Iran. While Pakistan’s province, Balochistan where China has invested billion of dollars to develop Gwadar seaport which could link Central Asian trade with rest of the world, irritates both Washington and New Delhi.On the other hand, China has signed a number of agreements with Pakistan to help the latter in diverse sectors.
In these terms, one of the alarming implications is that Obama’s irresponsible approach to boast Indian defence is likely to initiate a new, but dangerous arms race between Pakistan and India—and between China and India.
However, South Asian countries which have been facing acute poverty, hunger, unemployment, political instability and terrorism had hoped that the President Obama would help them in resolving their old problems and issues. But surprisingly, Obama’s ill-conceived approach is likely to bring about more poverty and related problems in South Asia.
Another consequence of his trip to India is that quite contrary to his earlier statements; President Obama flatly refused to resolve the Kashmir issue, while saying that both India and Pakistan, themselves, can settle this dispute. Nevertheless, exclusion of Kashmir from Obama’s policy is likely to become a basic obstacle to South Asian peace, connecting other concerned disputes between Islamabad and New Delhi including regional terrorism in wake of New Delhi’s blame game against Islamabad in the post-Mumbai terror attacks. In this respect, Indian continued intransigence to disallow the Kashmiris their right of self-determination and suppression of their war of liberation through brutal tactics of state terrorism since partition have motivated Afghans and Pakistan’s tribal militants to resist the American policies. On the one hand, Indians are secretly manipulating US-led fruitless military strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s FATA regions, while one the other, they are perpetrating every technique of military terrorism in the Indian-held Kashmir which is the root cause of militancy in the region. While taking cognizance of the Kashmir dimension in relation to regional terrorism, even, formerBritish Foreign Secretary David Miliband who had visited New Delhi and Islamabad in the post-Mumbai carnage had recognised that complete de-escalation of situation between Pakistan and India was fully linked to resolution of Kashmir issue, saying that India should cooperate with Pakistan in this context.
While describing “win-win” relationship with India, Obama’s main focus was Indo-US united front against terrorism, which relates to the Islamic militancy in the region, but he totally neglected Hindu terrorism.
During his whole trip, President Obama did not take cognizance of the misdeeds of Hindu fundamentalist parties like theBJP, RSS, VHP, Shiv Sina and Bajrang Dal which have missed no opportunity to communalise national politics of India even under the Congress rule. With the backing of Indian officials, these parties have intensified anti-Christian and anti-Muslim bloodshed coupled with thedissemination of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism). Attack by the Hindu terrorists on the Muslims, Christians and their property have become a routine matter in India.
Obama should know that besidesprevious genocide of Muslims and destruction of the Babri Mosque, more than 2500 Muslims were massacred in2002 in the BJP-ruled Indian state of Gujarat. Regarding that massive genocide, bothHuman Rights Watch in 2002 and Amnesty International in 2003 chargedthe “Gujarat state administration” for involvement in “a massive cover-up of the state’s role in that massacre” and pointed out numerous police officials—specifically ministers, high officials and leaders of the VHP, BJP and Bajrang Dal as participants.
It is mentionable that ideology of Hindu nationalism prevails in every field at the cost of other minorities. It is even supported by Indian defence forces clandestinely. This fact could be judged from the recent past, when on April 6, 2008 in the house of Bajrang Dal fundamentalists in Nanded, a bomb went off. The investigations proved that the militants belonging to the Bajrang Dal were found in the bomb-making and attack on a mosque in Parbhani in 2003. Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra arrested a serving Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit along with other army officials, indicating that they were helping in training the Hindu terrorists, providing them with the military-grade explosive RDX, used in the Malegaon bombings and terrorist attacks in other Indian cities. ATS further disclosed that Lt. Col. Purohit confessed that in 2007, he was involved in bombing of Samjhota express, which brunt alive 69 Pakistanis. Leaders of the Indian extremist parties, Shiv Sena, BJP, VHP and RSS are now pressurising the Congress regime to release the culprits.
Nonetheless, it is due to the ignorance of the US Administration that New Delhi which has been using Hindu terrorists to create frenzy against the other religious communities has further been encouraged by the President Obama who is silent over Hindu terrorism.
Without any doubt, Obama’s visit to India has left a deep impact in the region as he has further emboldened India, directly or indirectly, to keep on going with human rights violations in India and the occupied Kashmir—to continue its anti-Pakistan and anti-China designs, to create instability in other regional countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives etc. Setting aside nuclear war in the Sub-continent, India which is already dreaming to become the superpower of Asia has been encouraged by the President Obama to destabilse whole the region in wake of the modern world trends like renunciation of war, peaceful settlement of disputes and economic development in cooperation with the neighbouring states.
Sajjad Shaukat is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker. He writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.