US-India Global Review

Washington has proposed. The last – and perhaps the only – third party mediation was in 1966 when Soviet Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin brought Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri of India and Pakistani Preisdent Ayub Khan to Tashkent after the 1965 war. They signed the Takshent Declaration that was to be the framework for peace, undertaking to improve relations between the neighbours, not to interfere in each other's internal affairs. But it unravelled in five years with the Bangladesh War. There were two US involve- ments in India-Pakistan affairs with beneficial results that did not rise to the to the level of a media- tion and they could have lessons for any US initiative. In 1990, former President George H.W. Bush – the “senior” – defused a mounting tension between India and Pakistan, which the US feared could lead to Islamabad using nuclear weapons. He sent his Deputy National Security Adviser Robert Gates to talk to then Pakistani President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and military chief Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg. (Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had been sidelined by them and was out of the pic- ture even though she had prom- ised a “thousand-year war.”) Gates is reported to have wrenched an assurance from the Pakistani leaders that they would shut down training camps for mili- tants in their territory and con- veyed it to the Indian leadership. That combined with an assurance to Pakistanis that US military attaches observed a winding down of Indian military buildup led to the de-escalation of the situa- tion. However, Gates, who later became President Barack Obama's defence secretary, did not try to mediate broader issues like Kashmir that the Pakistanis wanted him to. Bill Clinton, who succeeded the senior Bush, started off on the wrong foot when his Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphael in 1993 landed the US in the Kashmir policy swamp. She declared, “We view Kashmir as a disputed territory. We do not recognise that instru- ment of accession (signed by Maharaja Hari Singh) as meaning that Kashmir is forevermore an integral part of India.” (In 2014, Raphael was investigated by US authorities for alleged illegal deal- ings with Pakistan and had her security clearance revoked. Two years later, the investigations ended without any charges brought against her.) But during the Kargil crisis of 1999, Clinton stepped in and arm- twisted Pakistan into withdrawing from the territories it had cap- tured. Although, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was the one sub- jected to a diplomatic third-degree by Clinton, it was the military- Islamic complex that he was tar- geting. The takeaway from both these instances is that the US can play a limited role in a crisis – or when it appears there's one brewing – and has to realise this. It has to set its ambitions low. The very next year in 2000, Clinton pitched for a role in the neighbours' dispute, saying, “I think the United States should be more involved there, even though I think they’ll have to work out this business of Kashmir between themselves.” He was roundly rebuffed by India. And, Washington has to work on the Pakistani military establish- ment to stop threatening military buildups, cross-border terrorism and any armed intervention. Right now, Trump and Tillerson have delivered Pakistan a strong message about ending support for terrorism – an ultimatum of sorts. In Islamabad Tillerson met not only the civilian leaders, but the real center of power, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar. Tillerson later said that the Pakistani's “have their concerns along their border with India” and added what may be a sop to Pakistan, “There are legitimate concerns on both sides of that border as well.” Regardless of what it considers “legitimate concerns,” a US decreed end to terrorism and cross-border attacks – if they hap- pen – won't lead to a mediating role for Washington, but they could of themselves lead to a resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue, which ended after a promising start in 2014. And that would further US interests. Right now, Trump and Tillerson have deliv- ered Pakistan a strong message about ending support for terrorism – an ultimatum of sorts. In Islamabad Tillerson met not only the civil- ian leaders, but the real center of power. 16 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JANUARY-MARCH 2018