US can’t ignore Kashmir; has interest in normalizing Pak-India ties: Washington think tank

WASHINGTON :The United States has strategic interests in normalizing relations between South Asian adversaries India and Pakistan and New Delhi must realize that Washington cannot remain silent on human rights violations in the disputed Kashmir region,  according to a US think tank report being released here on Tuesday.Entitled “Toward Realistic US-India Relations” the report by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, also favors a criteria-based civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan over time, saying such a move, engaging China, Pakistan and Nuclear Suppliers Group, would help make amends for damage done to the non-proliferation efforts by US-India nuclear deal. The report says the ‘Indian leaders must also do more to correct the misgovernance and  human rights abuses that are remobilizing Muslims in the Kashmir Valley.”  ‘The United States has legitimate strategic interests in urging both India and Pakistan to explore all prospects for normalizing Indo-Pak relations and reducing the threat of violent extremism in South Asia and elsewhere,” the report crafted  by George Perkovich stressed as President Barack Obama prepared to visit New Delhi from  November 6.

The report opines that “Indians may reasonably expect the United States to heed their demand not to try to mediate the Kashmir issue with Pakistan,” but makes it clear  that “they (Delhi) should not expect it (US) to stay silent aboutlarge-scale Indian human  rights violations or other policies that undermine conflict resolution there.”
“Kashmir is a challenge that the United States can neither avoid nor resolve,” the author notes in view of importance of the lingering conflict to South Asian peace  and Indian aversion to overt US involvement towards its resolution.With regard to US-Pakistan relations, the report advises India to accept the reality of  long-term relations between them.  “The United States can reasonably ask New Delhi to understand that Washington will seek  a lasting positive relationship with Pakistan.”

“Criticizing U.S. leaders for words and deeds that do not always and exclusively favour India over Pakistan is neither realistic nor wise.”   The report also cautions Washington and New Delhi on their bilateral military ties in  respect of Islamabad’s reaction to provocative defense sales. “The United States and India would also augment the prospects for Indo-Pak stability by avoiding military sales that Pakistan could reasonably find provocative.‘Encouraging Indo-Pak dialogue on how to stabilize their competition in  subconventional, conventional, and nuclear capabilities is necessary.”  The report also focuses on the threat of violent extremists in Pakistan and says “many  Pakistanis blame this danger on American policies and India’s unwillingness to resolve the  Kashmir conflict.”

“This knot of issues is among the world’s most difficult to untie.  Neither the Bush administration nor critics of the Obama approach to India know how to do it. The knot cannot be  cut, nor does a strategy focused on partnering with India to balance China’s rising power solve  the Pakistan challenge.”Discussing Pakistani perceptions on resolution of the Kashmir dispute and the military  advantage India may derive in the conenventional military field, the report says “the United  States and India must take great care to manage their defense cooperation in ways that reassure  Pakistan that India’s aims and capabilities are defensive, not offensive.” “Conventional military dialogue and confi dence-building measures deserve greater  attention for this purpose.”
Many Pakistanis see Afghanistan as the hotter front for Indo-Pak competition.
Pakistanis perceive an Indian effort to extend influence throughout Afghanistan at Pakistan’s expense.

The report sharply criticizes the United States’ granting exception to India in the field of civilian nuclear technology, despite the fact that New Delhi has not committed non- prliferation regimes.“Strategies toward China, India, and Pakistan intersect in the field of nuclear nonproliferation, which also bears on economic development and climate change.”  The US-India nuclear deal “has harmed the nuclear nonproliferation regime and the  United States’ credibility as its leader. The nuclear deal exemplifies the liabilities of a strategy to privilege India in policy domains that lie at the core of global governance. The latter are too important to sacrifice for the purpose of satisfying India when its positions  are at variance with the legitimate interests of the broader international system.”

The report expresses dissatisfaction with Indian implementation of the deail saying India designated only 14 of 22 power plants as civilian and put its plutonium Fast Breeder Reactor program in the military category. “India thereby added vastly to the potential stock of plutonium that it could separate from spent fuel and use for weapons, even if it is unlikely to do so. India’s electricity producing plants and breeder program had previously been perceived as civilian.”The nuclear deal did not obligate India to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty or put a moratorium on further production of fissile materials for weapons, the author observes.
The U.S. move to privilege India’s nuclear program and balance China deepened Pakistan’s determination to resist negotiations to ban further production of fissile materials for military purposes, Perkovich adds.

China, which could have used the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s (NSG) consensus decision-making process to block the India deal, is now less susceptible to international pressure to refrain from similar cooperation with Pakistan.“The NSG is a voluntary arrangement, so China could choose to cooperate with Pakistan  without NSG approval.
“From an international security perspective, it would be better if China sought NSG permission, much as India did. But if Beijing knew that the United States and others would block it despite China’s reluctant acceptance of the U.S.- India deal, it would have little incentive to uphold the NSG’s standing.”‘A better alternative would be to work with China, Pakistan, and other NSG members to identify criteria that Pakistan could meet over time to warrant approval of nuclear cooperation with it.“Such an approach would ameliorate some of the damage done by the original deal with India. Especially damaging is the permission that Washington granted to India to reprocess  spent-fuel derived from fuel and reactors supplied by the United States and other foreign partners of Indian  – App