Monday, November 08, 2010

Pakistan, India and the Afghanistan War

President Obama's trip to India is something to which our ally Pakistan - on whose territory we're also conducting a war - is watching closely. Margaret Talev of McClatchy Newspapers (Obama tells India Pakistan making slow progress on terror 11/07/2010) does something too rarely seen in US reporting on the Afghanistan War. She talks about how the India-Pakistan rivalry is a central issue in it:

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their tumultuous founding in 1947, and the animosity between the rival nuclear nations is palpable. India constantly prods the United States to take a more aggressive role in pressing Pakistan to deal with anti-Indian militants that receive sanctuary in Pakistan and blames Pakistan for the Nov. 26, 2008, attacks in Mumbai that killed 160 people.

Balancing relations between the rival powers is a delicate one for Obama. The American president needs cooperation from both countries to extricate the United States from a decade of war in Afghanistan, which has increasingly become a proxy battleground for India and Pakistan. [my emphasis]
The disputed Muslim-majority state of Kashmir, which is part of India, is the biggest contentious issue between these two powers. Pakistan views the current government in Afghanistan as pro-India. And for Pakistan, its rivalry with India over Kashmir is far more important than American preferences in Afghanistan.

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