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US focus on Pak may lead to pressure on India over Kashmir

Source: PTI
May 05, 2009 20:45 IST
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Former US Ambassador Robert Blackwill cautioned  on Tuesday that India may encounter eventual US pressure on Kashmir issue because of Obama Administration's focus on Pakistan.
Dubbing Pakistan as the "most dangerous foreign policy problem" that Washington is facing, Blackwill said for every
good reason the Obama administration is devoting enormous thought to that country.
"The possible effect of such an enveloping US preoccupation with Pakistan seems on its way in practical terms to re-hyphenating the US-India relationship, leading the administration to see India largely through the lens of deeply disturbing developments in Pakistan," Blackwill, who was the US ambassador in India from 2001-2003, said at a CII gathering.
"This will produce an understandable and growing US interest in trying to reduce tensions in India-Pakistan relationship, not least because Pakistan will argue that tensions with India and the Kashmir dispute are preventing it from moving robustly against the Islamic terrorists," he said, adding India may encounter eventual US pressure on the Kashmir
He also said that Obama administration appeared to have downgraded India in the US' strategic calculations and
put China on a higher plane. Though it wants genuinely good relations with New Delhi but there can be a substantial change viz a viz the policies of the Bush administration and it would take "very hard work and skillful diplomacy" from both the governments to keep the US-India relationship on its current level, he said.

While former US President George W Bush looked at India as an emerging democratic power and a key factor in balancing the rise of Chinese power, Blackwill said, "there are preliminary indications that the Obama administration has
a different policy orientation towards India.
"First it is not clear that the Obama administration has the same preoccupation with the rise of Chinese power and
India's balancing role in it. Rather, Washington is now naturally focused on US-China economic relations... so China today appears to me to be on a substantially higher plane in US diplomacy than India which seems to have been downgraded in the administration's strategic calculations," Blackwill said
"It will take very hard work and skillful diplomacy from both the governments to keep the US-India relationship on
its current plateau and avoid a steady decline in out bilateral ties," Blackwill said
The former ambassador said Afghanistan presents another set of potential differences between India and Pakistan.
"For Washington to believe that India will not be a major player in the long-term future of Afghanistan is to ignore centuries of history, culture and mutual interaction between the two," he said.
He listed Iran as also another "knotty" issue in US-India relations and a potential source of considerable bilateral tension.

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