Five-Party Talks to Guarantee Borders in South Asia

Threats of imminent conflict between India and Pakistan, following the Mumbai attacks of late November 2008, dissipated eventually, given both the sobering reality of nuclear weapons on either side and of India’s failure to temper Pakistan with Operation Parakram following the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001. Against a backdrop of confused doctrines such as Cold Start and armed forces that are simply not materially or organizationally equipped for quick reaction, India is left with the usual options of engaging in rhetoric and diplomacy, both departments where Pakistan can more than match India. However, Pakistan’s capability in this latter respect comes from being the smaller power that has only to react to the bigger power, namely India, without having to come up with any initiatives of its own. It follows, therefore, that the way out can only come from India thinking out-of-the-box and coming up with an initiative that will force the other players in the region out of their zones of comfort and force them to walk the talk. What can this new initiative be?

Five-Party Talks – Explaining the Rationale

US President Barack Obama’s views on South Asia have been cause for both some unease as well as cheer in the region. During the American presidential primaries, in mid-2007, he declared himself in favour of a more proactive American approach on Pakistan in the war against terror, including cross-border attacks from Afghanistan, if necessary.[i] This of course, alarmed and angered Islamabad[ii] as perhaps it did Beijing even if the latter did not officially comment on it. Afghanistan on the other hand, perhaps felt vindicated in its claim that the Taliban were being supported from across the Durand Line.[iii] Meanwhile, as the US presidential campaign entered its last few days, Obama’s views on Kashmir[iv] and news of him seeking to appoint former US President Bill Clinton as his interlocutor on Kashmir,[v] drew a variety of reactions from Indian commentators ranging from concern to indifference.[vi] Indeed, Kashmiri separatist leaders seemed to get fresh encouragement from his remarks.[vii]

As subsequent events have borne out however, Obama’s primary focus as President, has been on the war in Afghanistan and hence on Pakistan rather than on Kashmir. His appointment of Richard Holbroke as his special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan without bringing India in except as an important partner to be consulted and his new AfPak strategy[viii] indicate that while there remain areas of concern for India, worries about the re-hyphenation of India and Pakistan by the US should not be blown out of proportion. Obama had in fact, declared before his election that India would be a “top priority” for his administration and that the two countries “should be working with India on a range of crucial issues from preventing terrorism to promoting peace and stability in Asia.”[ix]

However, the American President remarks on Kashmir are not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, every Kashmir-related remark by external powers is not necessarily a threat to Indian sovereignty; a challenge certainly, but not a threat and therein lies the opportunity. Even if India might rest easy for a while that the US and the rest of the world do not consider the Kashmir issue as being connected to the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan in any substantial way, it is time that India itself re-evaluated its position on the matter, not least because continued American failure to get traction with the Pakistanis in the fight against the Al Qaeda might force them to give in to Islamabad’s demands to bring up the Kashmir again.[x] As long as Pakistan believes Kashmir to be a “core” interest of its, and India to be the primary threat to its existence, it can never fully concentrate its energies on the fight against Islamic radicalism even if this should threaten its very existence. A failing Pakistani state unable to control renegade branches of the government and military or to crush non-state actors that spread fundamentalism and terrorism is more of a threat to India than a stable Pakistan that threatens India in conventional military or nuclear terms. The latter is a threat amenable to mitigation on the basis of reasoned state-to-state negotiations, diplomacy and confidence-building measures while the former is a threat that cannot be pinned down or dealt with as a single entity and which attacks India at multiple levels in a diffuse manner presenting no face or point of contact to deal or negotiate with. Therefore, it is necessary that India bring Kashmir on the table in some form of its own volition to really take the battle against terrorism to the next level as well as deal with the continuing existential dilemmas of the Pakistani state.

India should call for five-party talks (FPT) in South Asia on the model of the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. The five participants would be Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China and the US and the idea would be to provide the Pakistani establishment, including its army, an international guarantee that its borders and territorial integrity would be respected if it pursued the war on terror against the Taliban and Al Qaeda within its territory, wholeheartedly and with all the resources at its command. The FPT would guarantee the integrity of two important borders both involving Pakistan – the Indo-Pak border including the Line of Control, and the Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Negotiations on thorny regional issues have increasingly involved only a few key nations rather than become large multilateral affairs. Examples include negotiations that resulted in the Oslo Accords[xi] and the Dayton Peace Accords.[xii] In more recent times, similar proposals have continued to be put forward such as the “Iraq stabilization group” proposed by Steven Simon of the US Council on Foreign Relations in 2007.[xiii] With regard to the issue at hand, a similar proposal has been put forward by Barnett Rubin and Ahmed Rashid in the Foreign Affairs issue of November/December 2008 in the form of a contact group that would be authorized by the UN Security Council and comprise the five permanent members, “and perhaps others (NATO, Saudi Arabia).” By not clearly for the inclusion of India and Pakistan, even while suggesting that the contact group would push for advocating dialogue between India and Pakistan on both Afghanistan and Kashmir,[xiv] the authors only seem to reiterate Western perceptions that South Asia and terrorism in the region requires direction or involvement from the outside. One certainly cannot dismiss this requirement entirely but while the West’s and indeed the rest of the world’s interest in resolving South Asia’s problems are to be welcomed, the solutions need to include a substantial degree of South Asian initiative and meaningful South Asian participation. Meanwhile, Obama’s own “Contact Group” as outlined in his AfPak strategy includes India and China but also the Central Asian Republics, Russia, Iran and the United Nations among others, and risks being too unwieldy and large for effective action. On the other hand, Obama’s initiative to start a trilateral dialogue among the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan under while a good first step will need to expand to include India and China too, if it is to be truly effective over the long term. These are also the countries most capable of contributing to the civilian reconstruction efforts that Obama is laying great store by.[xv] The FPT is no less ambitious in its agenda than either of these plans but by limiting itself to the absolute key actors in the region, it has potentially a greater degree of effectiveness and hence, possibility of success.

the Wagah border crossing with Pakistan

Terrorism – The Immediate Problem

Terrorism, manifested increasingly in the form of Islamic extremism, is the primary reason why South Asia requires a multilateral initiative in the form of FPT. Each of the countries to be involved in the FPT have suffered casualties from Pakistani actions or actions originating in Pakistan – India, Afghanistan, the US, and China. India’s problems on the Pakistan front are too well-known to need enumeration here, except to say that the problem has evolved over time to spread from Kashmir to the rest of India and in the process has taken on increasingly religious hue as opposed to a question of ethnic identity alone. Afghanistan’s current instability driven by the reemergence of the Taliban is also of course rooted state-sponsorship by Pakistan and additionally in the lack of any effective control exercised by the Pakistani federal government over the border with Afghanistan. This last, results in the free passage and protection that the Taliban and Al Qaeda enjoy in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) even as NATO forces led by the US continue to suffer casualties in Afghanistan.

China is no stranger to Islamic extremism arising out of Pakistan either. While it might be argued that China seeks to draw more linkages between the independence struggle of the Uyghurs in its Xinjiang province and Al Qaeda than is warranted, there is no denying that certain elements in this were radicalized by their contact with Pakistan and during the struggle in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Pakistan and China have already engaged in anti-terror cooperation this has hitherto focussed on apprehending radical Uyghur elements who have fomented trouble back home, using Pakistan as a base.[xvi] The continuing ethnic and religious disaffection in Xinjiang, mean that Beijing must pay close attention to the growth and spread of religious radicalism elsewhere in the region.

However, the terrorism in Pakistan that has affected China goes beyond just the Uyghur dimension. Chinese citizens in Pakistan number about three times as many as American citizens[xvii] and have frequently been the victims of kidnappings and killings. While initially, the Chinese were victims of the unrest in Balochistan[xviii] where China is helping in the construction of Gwadar port, of late, Chinese citizens have also been victims of Islamic radicalism as Chinese businesses and corporations expand their presence in the country, including into the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).[xix] Thus, China watches with growing unease as its “all-weather friend” appears increasingly unable to deal with domestic instability including Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. Indeed, even if China has appeared more understanding of the Pakistani state’s inability (or unwillingness?) to tackle Islamic radicalism, it has on occasion reportedly put the squeeze on Islamabad to act against Islamic militants, when its own citizens were involved.[xx] Certainly, the Chinese would be happy to come on board in an institutional arrangement that would prevent random US incursions across the Pakistani border[xxi] and possibly cause Islamabad to turn to help from Beijing, which it simply could not provide.

The US too, would most likely come on board primarily because an Obama administration would see this as an opportunity to put into practice his call for both a less unilateralist American engagement in the world and an opportunity to try something new in an area where the American policy against terror has so far had limited results. Perhaps most important, this provides the rationale for the US to abandon the mantra of the “war on terror” that has had the effect of leaving American diplomacy “paralyzed” [xxii] and of legitimizing the “clash of civilizations” thesis. At the very least, Obama has the opportunity to ward off accusations that he was merely posturing on Pakistan during his campaign. Indeed, there are also strong arguments against the US pursuing attacks across the border into Pakistan.[xxiii]

Unsettled Borders – The Deeper Problem

To achieve any degree of success against terrorism in the region, however, the FPT cannot actually be limited to discussing only terrorism, even if that must be the focus of immediate action. The Six-Party Talks in Northeast Asia could continue to take place and progress only because there was a clear agreement of the central problem and the main culprit as it were, and because the power equations were such that North Korea could be cornered or put on the spot. Despite being broadly considered as the team opposing the US and its allies, China and Russia also did not let North Korea off the hook and were agreed with everyone else that the latter’s nuclear programme was a threat to peace and stability in the region. Using terrorism as the only agenda of the FPT runs the very obvious risk of Pakistani blandly denying that it has anything to do with fomenting terrorism in the region. Indeed, short of its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) coming clean, there would be no way to prove the extent of its involvement. Thus, there is no ‘main culprit’ to whom might be affixed the responsibility of the ‘central problem.’ Indeed, the culprits are actually multiple and they include the Taliban and Al Qaeda, both of whom are non-state actors and who cannot be part of any multilateral talks mechanism.

Indeed, it is for these very reasons that several of the methods used until now – invading Afghanistan to remove the Taliban government – and solutions proposed – talking to the ‘moderate’ Taliban – have or will come a cropper or at the very least take a long while to succeed. Terrorism and insurgencies succeed and fester because they act in unstructured, flexible ways against the structured apparatuses of the state – governments and armies. The solutions therefore, need to take into this account if they are to be long-lasting. At the moment, however, both the US-led war on terror on the Afghan side of the border and the one led by the Pakistan army on its side of the border are both tied down and losing ground. Further, talking to the ‘moderate’ Taliban[xxiv] while premised on the hope of, among other things, factionalizing the Taliban and thus weakening it, also runs the risk of creating more rabid and fanatical groups that will simply refuse to surrender and continue to operate in various parts of Afghanistan or Pakistan troubling both central governments for a long time to come.[xxv] And like all insurgencies, they will tap into various sources of local resentment and in Pakistan and Afghanistan, at least one of the major sources is the unsettled question of Pakhtoonistan or put another way that of the Pashtuns. It is important however, to be clear that it is not Pashtun resentment that has led to Islamic radicalism in the region but the Taliban and Al Qaeda that have fed on Pashtun uncertainties about their identity and homeland in an era of strengthening state structures and solidifying borders.

The reference to Pakhtoonistan might for some seem a gross overestimation of the problem or an attempt at misdirection, given the issue of Kashmir. However, in their broad contours, the two problems are similar; the difference is only that the Kashmir issue is the comparatively more prominent one. This relative prominence of the Kashmir issue is, in many ways, an accident of history, when one considers the fact that it was the region now separated by the Durand Line that has been the real global hotspot for millennia. Thus, it seems only natural for the region to return to the centre of world attention.

Suffice it to say the twin problems of Pakhtoonistan and Kashmir are in essence problems that are state-centric, in the sense that they exist because states exist – India, Pakistan and Afghanistan – and can conceivably also be solved at the level of the states. The key to the solution lies in acknowledging that modern borders in the region, whether drawn by the British or born as a result of stalemate in war are far from being historically relevant or accurate. It must also be acknowledged however, that redrawing borders is fraught with more problems than it will solve and instead the effort can be made to make them less relevant to the region, if not altogether “irrelevant.” The FPT on guaranteeing the integrity of borders involving Afghanistan, Pakistan and India would perform this function. The Talks should provide an easier path towards an acceptance of the status quo at the popular level in India, Pakistan and Kashmir – an acceptance that the leaders in the region surely realize is the only way forward.

The FPT cannot get off the ground if India did not agree to Kashmir forming part of the agenda in some way and being open to deciding its future together with Pakistan rather than merely on the basis of the Instrument of Accession signed by Maharajah Hari Singh. If India really hopes to win the war against terrorism – and terrorism remains the major drag on India’s external policy formulation as well as on external investor confidence in the country – it must realize that it has to make the necessary concessions to win the larger battle. This battle is not one simply of getting rid of terrorism or of resolving the Kashmir dispute but of bringing in peace, development and prosperity to South Asia as a whole.

Pakistan, meanwhile, is unlikely to join the talks merely on an Indian promise of respecting the LOC. Any Pakistani commitment to reduce troops on its eastern front will need to be reciprocated by India.[xxvi] New Delhi gets yet another chance to prove that it is sincere about its much-vaunted call of “making borders irrelevant.” Indeed, demilitarization in Kashmir is a necessary pre-condition and it should not require Washington to point out the fact to New Delhi. Demilitarization would be essential purely from the point of view of Indo-Pak relations but now India has the opportunity to use the measure to also show the world that it is contributing to the war on terror. India would thus contribute to the war by actually keeping its soldiers out of combat.

There are sections in New Delhi that would continue to harp on how it is Pakistan that has disrespected borders by fomenting insurgency and terrorism in Kashmir. True, but if India will seize on Pakistan’s moment of weakness to display vindictiveness rather than statesmanship, the loss in the long-run will be India’s as Pakistan’s sinks slowly into the morass of its own making. Another claim would be that it was former Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘statesmanship’ of taking the dispute to the UN that resulted in the Kashmir impasse continuing for so long. The reply here is that circumstances both internal and external have changed since then and what is more, India is still not much further down the road of solving the issue. Dwelling on the past does not behove a rising power, looking for creative solutions to break the logjam does.

In this respect, India can perhaps draw some solace from the fact that there is a difference to be drawn between the situations in Pakhtoonistan and Kashmir. In the former case, the Durand Line engenders violence and this needs to be dealt with first before it can be made irrelevant. In the case of the latter, violence is today at a comparatively low ebb, dialogue has continued between New Delhi and Islamabad, albeit at different levels of intensity, cross-border connections function, even if fitfully and the Kashmiris have a fair degree of involvement in the process. Therefore, the level of innovation that can come into play in the case of Kashmir is much higher. While the LOC will need to be respected, as cross-border connections grow, a whole host of measures can come up around it that in essence reduces the relevance of the border. India is thus already engaged in the process but as present circumstances show, the process is also moving far too slowly and has too many obstacles in its way to provide any sense of achievement or progress to those most immediately involved.

Putting Kashmir on the agenda of the FPT gives India an additional reason to convince the sceptics in the Kashmir Valley and in the Pakistani establishment that it is sincere about solving the imbroglio but within the framework of borders having to be respected first before being made irrelevant. For its part, New Delhi needs to accede to demands in the Kashmir Valley and open up its side to greater and more substantial interactions – both people-to-people and economic[xxvii] – unhindered by bureaucratese and excessive security restrictions to both give Pakistan confidence and to keep the Kashmiris happy and win their support. Thus, on the matter of sequencing India would have to make the first steps and these will be related to Kashmir but these moves or subsequent ones by Pakistan on dealing with terrorism should in no way be considered as prejudicial to India’s or Pakistan’s stated positions on Kashmir but could provide an easier path towards an acceptance of the status quo at the popular level in India, Pakistan and Kashmir – an acceptance that the leaders in the region surely realize is the only way forward.

Getting Everybody on Board

Extract from: Jabin T. Jacob, “Five-Party Talks in South Asia: Guaranteeing Borders,” in D. Suba Chandran and Jabin T. Jacob (eds.), India’s Foreign Policy: Old Problems, New Challenges (New Delhi: Macmillan, 2011), pp. 287-300.

[i] Obama’s exact statement was, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.” Steve Holland, “Tough talk on Pakistan from Obama,” Reuters, 1 August 2007, See also “Transcript: Barack Obama talks to Rachel Maddow 5 days before election,” MSNBC, 30 October 2008,

[ii] Pakistan Foreign Office declined to comment on Obama’s statement in 2007, but issued a general warning for the American presidential candidates, saying, “He (Obama) is not the president of the United States, we do not make comments on the observations of individual politicians. However, these are serious matters and should not be used for point-scoring.” Khalid Hasan, “Hit Qaeda targets in Pakistan: Obama,” Daily Times, 2 August 2007, A Pakistani minister accused Obama of “sheer ignorance” and declared that his country would not allow “anyone” to infringe its sovereignty. “Minister slams Obama warning,” Dawn, 3 August 2007, Balochistan Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani then in Washington, also criticized Obama’s comments as undermining efforts to win the support of Pakistanis for the fight against terror. “Obama’s comments hinder anti-terror efforts: Owais,” Dawn, 4 August 2007, Meanwhile, the Pakistan Foreign Office reported that US President George W Bush, had telephoned President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on 3 August to reassure him after a series of threats from US officials of unilateral action against Al Qaeda on Pakistani soil and that some statements on Pakistan being made in the US were “prompted by political considerations in an environment of electioneering.” “Bush phones Musharraf: Ignore Obamas, aid bill,” Daily Times, 4 August 2007,

[iii] “Afghan FM accuses Pakistan of playing down Taleban ‘terrorism’,” Jihad Watch, 16 October 2006,, “Afghan officials accuse Pakistan of Indian embassy attack,” Agence France-Presse, 7 July 2008,, “Afghanistan accusing Pakistan of aiding insurgents,” International Herald Tribune, 6 August 2008,

[iv] Obama declared in an interview on MSNBC that the US, “should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis so that they can stay focused not on India, but on the situation with those militants.” “Transcript: Barack Obama talks to Rachel Maddow 5 days before election,” MSNBC, 30 October 2008, Even as regards the Obama administration’s latest AfPak strategy, sections in India have expressed the view that the his reference to the need for “constructive diplomacy” with India and Pakistan suggests that the American continue to believe that Kashmir in some way limits Islamabad’s ability to do more on the Afghan front. See “Obama’s AfPak strategy,” The Hindu, 30 March 2009, See also “Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama: A New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” New York Times, 27 March 2009,

[v] Chidanand Rajghatta, “Obama mulls Clinton as special envoy on Kashmir,” The Times of India, 7 November 2008,

[vi] C Raja Mohan, “Barack Obama’s Kashmir thesis!” The Indian Express, 3 November 2008,, Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, “Kashmir part of Afghan puzzle,” Hindustan Times, 4 November 2008,,  C Raja Mohan, “Obama And India: From endearment to embitterment?,” Forbes, 9 November 2008,, Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, “Obama rollback on Kashmir?,” Hindustan Times, 10 November 2008,, Jug Suraiya, “Keep the change,” 12 November 2008, The Times of India,, Brahma Chellaney, “Obama represents welcome change for India,” Reuters, 14 November 2008,

[vii] “Separatists welcome Obama’s Kashmir remarks,”, 3 November 2008,, Iftikhar Gilani, “Indians flay Obama’s comments on Kashmir,” Daily Times, 4 November 2008,,  “Pro-freedom camp elated at Obama’s Kashmir plans,”, 7 November 2008,

[viii] “Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama: A New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” New York Times, 27 March 2009, See also “Holbrooke’s Af-Pak portfolio includes India: Gen Petraeus,” Indian Express, 26 April 2009,

[ix] “India to top priority list if Obama becomes prez,” The Times of India, 24 October 2008,

[x] A trend towards this might be noted in Obama’s reference to India and Pakistan as “two nuclear-armed nations that too often teeter on the edge of escalation and confrontation” and the need to “pursue constructive diplomacy” with them. See “Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama: A New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” New York Times, 27 March 2009, See also, “Holbrooke’s Af-Pak portfolio includes India: Gen Petraeus,” Indian Express, 26 April 2009,; Robert D Blackwill, “The Future of US-India Relations,” published as “Senior ex-US diplomat on India-US relations,” Financial Times Online, 6 May 2009,,dwp_uuid=a6dfcf08-9c79-11da-8762-0000779e2340.html.

[xi] The Oslo Accords were the first direct, face-to-face agreement between Israel and political representatives of Palestinians and were signed in Washington D.C. on 13 September 1993 in the presence of PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and US President Bill Clinton, with Mahmud Abbas signing for the Palestine Liberation Organization, foreign Minister Shimon Peres for the State of Israel, Secretary of State Warren Christopher for the United States and foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev for Russia.

[xii] The conference took place from 1 November to 21 November 1995. The main participants from the region were Serbian President Slobodan Milošević (representing the Bosnian Serb interests due to absence of Karadžić), Croatian President Franjo Tuđman, and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegović with Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed “Mo” Sacirbey. The peace conference was led by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and negotiator Richard Holbrooke with two Co-Chairmen in the form of EU Special Representative Carl Bildt and the First Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Igor Ivanov. A key participant in the US delegation was General Wesley Clark (later to become NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) in 1997). The UK military representative was Col Arundell David Leakey (later to become Commander of EUFOR in 2005). The Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) served as legal counsel to the Bosnian Government delegation during the negotiations. A Contact Group composed of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia had already been created in response to the war and the crisis in Bosnia in the early 1990s. Besides four Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, it also included countries that contributed the most in troops and assistance to peacebuilding efforts in the Balkans. Representatives of the EU Council, EU Presidency, European Commission and NATO also generally attend Contact Group meetings.

[xiii] Steven Simon, “After the Surge: The Case for U.S. Military Disengagement from Iraq,” Special Report, Council on Foreign Relations, February 2007,

[xiv] Barnett R Rubin and Ahmed Rashid, “From Great Game to Grand Bargain: Ending Chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2008,

[xv] See “Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama: A New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” New York Times, 27 March 2009, See also Jon Ward, “Obama pledges support to Zardari, Karzai,” Washington Times, 7 May 2009; Ximena Ortiz, Hamid & Asif’s Excellent Adventure, National Interest, 7 May 2009,

[xvi] For more on this aspect, see Jabin T Jacob, “Chinese Strategic Interests in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir,” in P Stobdan and D Suba Chandran (eds.), The Last Colony: Muzaffarabad-Gilgit-Baltistan (Jammu: Center for Strategic and Regional Studies (CSRS), University of Jammu, 2008), pp. 147-51.

[xvii] Tarique Niazi, “China, Pakistan, and Terrorism,” FPIF Commentary, 16 July 2007,

[xviii] It is believed, however, that the killing of the three Chinese engineers in Gwadar in May 2005 was carried out by Uyghur separatists based in Pakistan. See Ashfak Bokhari, “Identity crisis in Kashgar,” Dawn Magazine, 12 December 2004,

[xix] For more on China and terrorism in Pakistan see Jabin T Jacob, “China’s Pakistan Quandary,” IPCS, Article No. 2714, 24 October 2008,

[xx] “In the Shadow of Lal Masjid: The China Factor in Pakistani Politics,” China Matters, 7 November 2007,

[xxi] In September 2008, Pakistan and the US apparently reached a tacit deal on air strikes under which the latter would continue to carry out attacks and deny them publicly while the former would continue to complain about them. See Karen DeYoung and Joby Warrick, “Pakistan and U.S. Have Tacit Deal on Airstrikes,” The Washington Post, 16 November 2008, However, this deal is unlikely to hold if elements in the Pakistani establishment refuse to cooperate with the US in other aspects of the war on terror or popular pressure within Pakistan forces the government to abandon the deal. The US would likely remain unwilling to suspend its strikes as long as it believed its targets were hiding within Pakistani territory.

[xxii] Barnett R Rubin and Ahmed Rashid, “From Great Game to Grand Bargain: Ending Chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2008,

[xxiii] George C Wilson, “Is Pakistan Obama’s Cambodia?,” Straus Military Reform Project, Centre for Defense Information, 18 November 2008, originally published as “Perils of Pakistan” in the National Journal on 17 November 2008.

[xxiv] The US has backed the Afghan government in its talks with moderate elements of the Taliban held for the first time in Saudi Arabia in September 2008. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, while declaring that in his view the time was not right for such efforts did not oppose Afghanistan President, Hamid Karzai’s offer to enter into talks with Mullah Omar. Sayed Salahuddin, “Afghans expect more talks soon with ex-Taliban,” Reuters, 18 November 2008, Meanwhile, US President-elect Barack Obama too has declared himself open to talks with “‘reconcilable’ elements of the Taliban.” Karen DeYoung, “Obama to Explore New Approach in Afghanistan War,” The Washington Post, 11 November 2008,  See also Anwar Iqbal, “Obama to increase non-military aid, Dawn, 2 November 2008, and Greg Bruno, “The Road Ahead in Afghanistan,” Council on Foreign Relations, 19 November 2008,

[xxv] Ashley Tellis, in fact, while criticizing negotiations with the Taliban as “premature and unnecessary,” argues that “[i]nitiating unwanted negotiations could exacerbate ethnic fissures in Afghanistan, signal weakness or defeat in Washington and Kabul, and ultimately renew civil war.” See Ashley J Tellis, “Reconciling With the Taliban?: Toward an Alternative Grand Strategy in Afghanistan,” Carnegie Report, April 2009,

[xxvi] MK Rasgotra and Stanley Weiss have also argued thus. See Maharaja Krishna Rasgotra and Stanley A Weiss, “The enemy is not India,” International Herald Tribune, 28 October 2008,

[xxvii] See PR Chari and Hasan Askari Rizvi, “Making Borders Irrelevant in Kashmir,” United States Institute of Peace, Special Report No. 210, September 2008, See also Maharaja Krishna Rasgotra and Stanley A Weiss, “The enemy is not India,” International Herald Tribune, 28 October 2008,

Published by Jabin T. Jacob

China analysis from an Indian perspective

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