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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

World

Obama Govt would quietly focus on Kashmir: Ex US diplomat
Lalit K Jha, PTI
Washington, March 18, 2009
First Published: 09:12 IST(18/3/2009)
Last Updated: 14:26 IST(18/3/2009)

Observing that the Obama administration is looking at Pakistan through a different lens than its predecessors, a former American diplomat on Wednesday said the new US government would quietly focus itself on Kashmir away from the public glaze.

William Milam, the former US Ambassador to Pakistan, identified India and Kashmir as one of the issues, which the Obama administration would focus on while trying to find a solution to Pakistan.

"There's one more thing and it's a very delicate thing that I think this administration will focus on. But it will be hard to determine this focus because it will be quite closely held and under wraps. And that is the India-centricity of Pakistan," said Milam, who was in Islamabad from 1998 to 2001.

"Everything that Pakistan does, at least in foreign affairs and security issues, is viewed through the lens of India, which it views as its eternally hostile neighbour," Milam said, adding that the US can't do much at least on the issue of Kashmir due to India's position on it.

"There's no good way we can do this. We certainly cannot be seen to meddle or to even mediate on the issues, particularly the Kashmir issue. But we really have to work on putting this back together," Milam said testifying before the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Giving his observations on the new administration's Pakistan policy, Milam said it is clear to him that the Obama administration is seeing and sees Pakistan through a slightly different lens than the previous administrations.

"Pakistan remains an ally and a very important ally of the United States. But I think our focus is changing from the kind of sort of more open kind of relationship we had to a much more to a relation, which is much more focused on changing the Pak mindset -- Pakistani mindset -- if that's possible, in terms of resisting the threat that really threatens their state and being able to meet that threat," he said.

"The military side, I think, is much more going to be much more focused on counterinsurgency operations and the equipment, as well as the training, that is needed by the Pakistani army to do that," he said.

The US assistance now would be much more economic in nature, he said. "I believe that the administration is going to triple economic assistance. That would go both to shoring up the economy, which is in terrible shape as well as, I hope, over the longer term, to providing some aid for social developments and particularly education, which the public education system as you know, is in a state of collapse," he said.


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