Tuesday, July 17, 2018 | 8:30 AM

For all of Trump’s warnings, Pakistan now in stronger position on Kashmir: Experts

Thursday, August 24, 2017

(Kashmir Reader) - Will the new security policy spelled out by the United States for the South Asia region have any negative impact on the Kashmir issue?

According to experts, the new policy will bring the Kashmir issue from the margins back into the international spotlight.

US President Donald Trump has been mounting pressure on Pakistan to stop militants from infiltrating into Afghanistan and “neighbouring countries”. However, this will hardly deter Pakistan support for the Kashmir cause as it has the open backing of China, and to some extent of Russia.

“The warning issued by Trump to Pakistan will have no bearings on Kashmir,” editor of the defence magazine FORCE, Pravin Sawhney, told Kashmir Reader.

“The US issued more of a threat. However, it will not change the policy of Pakistan towards Kashmir. The time has come when US needs Pakistan more, not less, for its war in Afghanistan,” Sawhney said.

Sawhney pointed out that soon after the US warning, China threw its weight behind Pakistan.

“China is now openly supporting the Pakistan army, which has bolstered them,” Sawhney said. “Russia and Iran, too, support Pakistan now. Realistically speaking, the US needs Pakistan now that it has decided to increase its troops in Afghanistan. The easier routes to Afghanistan go through Pakistan. How then is Pakistan going to come under pressure? The US needs them.”

Sawhney, who is also author of ‘The Defence Makeover’, ‘Operation Parakram’, and co-author of ‘Dragon On Our Doorstep’, said there will be no change in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy.

“The war will remain on in Kashmir,” he said. “Stability in the region will not come until talks are opened with Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue.”

Besides, he said, Pakistan will have a major say in the solution of the Afghan problem. “Taliban has made clear that its war will not end till the US leaves the country,” he said. “There are three million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. Pakistan helps the Afghan Taliban. Last year, they recaptured large swathes of the country. Pakistan will continue to dictate the policies in Kashmir and Afghanistan.”

On Tuesday, Trump had blamed Pakistan for “housing the very terrorists” that the country was fighting.

The Trump administration also mounted pressure on Pakistan to ensure that its soil is not used to plan and conduct “terrorist attacks against its neighbours”.

The Trump policy statement was followed by China’s, which said that Pakistan was on the frontlines of the struggle against terrorism and had made “great sacrifices” and “important contributions” in the fight.

Pakistan on Wednesday issued a statement saying “non-resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains the primary obstacle to peace and stability in the region.”

Kashmir-based political scientist Noor Ahmad Baba said, “Pakistan has now been emboldened to take a clear position on Kashmir. It knows that China and Russia are on its side. The Trump policy has done one thing: it has laid bare the new strategic alignments in the South Asia region. This will benefit Kashmir.”

“We are moving from a uni-polar world led by the US towards a multi-polar world led by emerging powers like China. Russia is already countering the US influence,” Baba said.

“The US took a confrontational position by declaring Hizbul Mujahideen as a terrorist outfit and its commander Salahudin as global terrorist. It toed the line of India,” Baba said. “But the support of China and Russia to Pakistan has emboldened the Pakistan position on Kashmir. India is slightly in the weaker position now. There will be again international pressure to solve the Kashmir dispute. Due to its new position in the South Asia geo-politics, Pakistan has made it clear it will not buckle to US pressure on Kashmir.”

“The time has come when Kashmir is being pulled up from the margins,” Baba said. “Indians are sensitive to the internationalisation of the Kashmir issue. They are worried.”