An Indian Paramilitary officer lays a wreath on the coffins of colleagues killed on the outskirts of Srinagar, India, Dec. 31, 2009. Gunmen ambushed and fatally shot 4 Indian paramilitary troops in Kashmir, police said, blaming Muslim militants.
"Hands Off Kashmir!"
Op-Ed, World Policy Blog
January 8, 2010
Author: Charles G. Cogan, Associate, International Security Program
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
This commentary was cross-posted to the Huffington Post on January 8, 2010.
America's rapprochement with India, and its centerpiece nuclear agreement, is a bright star in the otherwise murky firmament of the George W. Bush years. India is a large power; it is a secular, democratic power, not influenced by Islamist radicalism. Its large Muslim population of 140 million seems generally—so far—not attracted to that kind of fanaticism.
India is a country with a population of 1.17 billion whose numbers are destined to exceed those of China by 2050. (Pakistan's population, much smaller, but not insignificant, is roughly 180 million). The advantage of the U.S.-India rapprochement, in the short and medium term, lies in the fact that this huge country is right next to a string of Muslim countries whose populations are generally (though not universally) hostile to U.S. interests.
Because of the strategic importance that the United States places on both India and its troubled sister, Pakistan, policymakers in Washington have periodically tried to play the role of peacemaker in the region, hoping to push both nuclear-armed countries to resolve the bad blood between them—which, for the most part, has revolved around the contested province of Kashmir.
In 2009, U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke reportedly tried to include India in his Afghanistan-Pakistan (AfPak) portfolio, which seemed to mean that he wanted to take a crack at the Kashmir problem. The Indians, however, would have none of it, and AfPak remains limited to the two nations that make up the somewhat unwieldy conjunction.
For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.
Full text of this publication is available at:
For Academic Citation: