By RAJEEV SRINIVASAN
There are persistent India-bashers among U.S. politicians, and Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana is the prime example. These people have some things in common: they get campaign funding from anti-India groups; they are generally ignorant of the situation on the ground and are easily brainwashed by propaganda. Robert Guida of the New Hampshire legislature falls smack into this category of India-baiters.
It is in this context that we have to view the resolution passed by New Hampshire calling for U.S. Congressional hearings on the Jammu and Kashmir issue. On the face of it, this is about as meaningless as the Rajya Sabha passing a resolution “deploring” the U.S. invasion of Iraq on the day U.S. forces were entering Baghdad: noise, one could say.
However, there are disturbing trends in the background. One is that the State Department is up to its old tricks. The Cold Warriors of Foggy Bottom have consistently chosen to tilt towards Pakistan: and General Colin Powell has an unholy bonhomie with fellow-General Musharraf. Christine Rocca is almost as anti-India as the late unlamented Robin Raphael. Richard Armitage says that he is terrified that nuclear war will break out.
Indians in general have convinced themselves that State is upset with India primarily for the old friendship with the Soviet Union. I do not believe so. The real reason is that they view India as expendable and easily browbeaten.
For instance, the State Department’s annual human rights and religious rights reports take special care to condemn India. Strangely enough, they don’t see the far worse human rights abuses in Bangladesh, where Hindus and Buddhists are daily being raped, murdered, and ethnically cleansed. Neither do these atrocities exercise the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. But Indians are embarrassed by these reports, unlike, say the Chinese, who respond by shouting from the rooftops about America’s own failings at protecting rights.
More alarmingly, State views India as expendable. For, they realize that Islamist terrorism is a major threat. But the Americans, and the British before them, prefer to appease Islamists rather than fight them on behalf of non-dangerous Hindus; they know no Hindu terrorists will fly planes into tall buildings in the U.S. This, coupled with the neo-conservatives’ desire to protect Israel, means that they would prefer to keep India the lightning-rod attracting more and more Islamist terrorists. Therefore, Powell has a vested interest in supporting Pakistani claims to J&K.;
In the light of all this, the noise in New Hampshire is not meaningless: the larger picture is that the U.S. is intent on fishing in troubled waters in J&K.; This is no good at all from India’s perspective.
Rajeev Srinivasan wrote this opinion from Trivandrum, India.
No, this is a case of fighting the windmills
By S. GOPIKRISHNA
What ensures political nirvana to a Pakistan politician in trouble? Screaming and raging about India’s “occupation” of Kashmir! The ensuing brouhaha will bail the unpopular politician into the realm of acceptability, if not popularity.
Self-preservation elbows out any genuine activism.
What do American politicians desperate to win the next election do? Fish in troubled waters.
Apply the above maxims to New Hampshire politics. A year ago, Sajid Tahir, a New Hampshire politician of Pakistani descent proclaimed America to be safe for Muslims and found himself denounced by every Islamic group. Lo and behold! Tahir became a crusader for Kashmiri rights to counter his demotion from community leader to pariah. Accusing the Indian “occupiers” of horrendous atrocities, Tahir convinced the New Hampshire state Republican leader, Robert Guida to make a “fact finding trip” to “Azad Kashmir.”
Guida undertook the trip (funded by Pakistani-American organizations) and returned to start the latest anti-India jihad. He and Tahir prevailed upon the New Hampshire legislature to adopt a resolution demanding Congressional hearings on Kashmir, and plan to urge other states to do the same.
What impact will the planned hearings have on India and Indian-American relations? Besides political causes lacking genuine conviction biting the dust, there exist hard political realities.
Once American politicians discover the political stunt behind the jihad, all that will await the jehadis are polite smiles and referrals to the U.S. Senate (the latter being the “appropriate place” to discuss foreign affairs). State legislatures are not mandated to shape foreign policy.
Should there be potential to hold federal hearings, it is important to involve the Indian-American physician community. Adequate information sharing and the enormous financial clout wielded by them over the India Caucus (comprising 120 U.S. Congressmen and umpteen U.S. Senators, all making the now obligatory “pilgrimage” to the American Association of the Physicians of Indian Origin annual convention), will stop the hearings before they start.
In addition, India’s immense economic potential is not lost on American policy makers. China’s potential for growth of American businesses helped it push the Tibet issue onto the back burner. India’s attraction as a trade partner has exponentially grown over the past decade. Through lobbying the appropriate business network, India can always neutralize the Guida-Tahir jihad in Kashmir.
And thus the scene is set for the last act of the jihad—the fate that befell Don Quixote and Sancho Panza when they charged at the windmills awaits their latter day avatars.
S. Gopikrishna writes from Toronto on issues pertinent to India and Indians.