President Bush’s parting legacy
Presidential hopeful US Senator Barak Obama quickly have the India-Pakistan Kashmir resolved “to reduce the nuclear danger in South Asia”, according to an Online report, and said to the journal Arms Control Today he would “prioritize diplomatic efforts have them move “beyond their moratorium on nuclear testing towards ratification of the treaty (CTBT)”.
Republican rival Senator John McCain would without the shadow of a doubt endorse this stance, while the rest of the world with bated breath to see whether or not the US can, at least, accomplish this critical mission, as the US-India nuclear energy deal opens the door for nuclear proliferation with Pakistan in particular compelled to seek nuclear energy (and nuclear parity) from other sources.
Aggravating the situation is India threatening to turn off the taps by damming the Chenab River, an important tributary of the River Indus’ Pakistan’s main water artery, to precipitate a major crisis. This has compelled Pakistan to turn to the World Bank, the guarantor of the Indus Water Treaty to mediate.
“We have approached the World Bank for arbitration and informed them that “India has committed gross violations by reducing the Chenab water flow, a senior government official is reported to have said and Pakistan’s demand is that this be redressed to make up for the losses suffered by releasing water in the Ravi, Sutlej and Chenab rivers.
Primarily an agrarian economy, Pakistan has never felt so threatened.
Still, the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Sing and Pakistan’s President Asif Zardari on the sidelines of the UN summit and their joint press statement of an “expansion of people to people contacts, trade, commerce and economic cooperation”, held promise. And, if Singh did indeed signal to Zardari that India would “honour” the water treaty, glad tidings appear to be on the horizon.
But given the restiveness in India with the Hindu fundamentalist BJP, India’s main opposition party, up in arms on the Kashmir uprising and India’s Hindu populace’s murderous drive against Indian Christians, the chances of this materializing to the point of “caring in sharing” is likely to be short lived .
This notwithstanding a fifth round of the Composite Dialogue between the two countries has been scheduled three months down the line. But that may emerge as so much more rhetoric, in the light of earlier such meetings where little progress was seen to have been made.
For its part, Pakistan stands by its pledge it would not “allow the use of its territory” by forces determined to derail the peace process and the two leaders have agreed to convene a “special meeting of a joint anti-terror mechanism next month” specially to address such concerns as the bombing of the Indian embassy in Afghanistan which was reported to have killed 41 people.
Escaping international media attention, however, is the presence of Indian “trade consulates” in Afghanistan close to Pakistan’s border with the former country, even as bombings in Balochistan and such as the one suffered by the Islamabad Marriot Hotel which killed close to 60, as well as the as yet unclaimed blast of that derailed a train in Pakistan’s south, continue with relentless regularity.
These and other acts of sabotage prevent Pakistan from battling Al Qaeda in its north and, while President Bush may view the induction of India into the American camp through the nuclear energy agreement his parting legacy, it would not be worth the paper it is written on if not tied to the condition of a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.