Unrealistic expectations

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President Obamas Indian visit is causing a stir in India and Pakistan, altogether of a different type. The Indians are generally jubilant while many in Pakistan who thought the country deserved democracy dividend are unhappy over Obamas decision to ignore Pakistan during his visit to the region. Earlier resentment was expressed when Secretary of State Clinton had acted similarly when she made her maiden visit to India in her new official capacity in July 2009. Anticipating the reaction in Pakistan, President Obama joined a session of the Pak-US strategic dialogue in Washington where he remained for nearly an hour. He informed the delegation that he would visit Pakistan next year. Later he talked to President Zardari on the phone and invited him to Washington. When President Clinton visited India in March 2000 but stopped over in Islamabad for only a few hours, it was widely understood that he did not want to be seen endorsing the military regime of Pervez Musharraf. Questions will however continue to be raised why President Obama chose not to include Pakistan in his itinerary.

The Foreign Office has once again called on the chief US executive to help resolve the Kashmir issue and other disputes with India. There is no denying that during his election campaign, President Obama had promised to help settle the Kashmir issue. However, soon after he assumed the office, pro-India lobbies in Washington worked hard to dissuade him from taking up the mission, arguing that this would annoy India. It was also underlined that while Pakistan has received billions of dollars from the US, the latter stood to gain billions from lucrative sales to India. There is a need to realize that economic clout rather than moral issues determine the ratings of a country in the present world.

That Washington continues to be wedded to the idea that it is for India and Pakistan to take up the Kashmir issue was clear from the remarks of the newly appointed US ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter. While visiting the Quaids mausoleum in Karachi, he said Pakistan and India should engage in dialogue about Kashmir.