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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

Wise Man From The West

Wisner's initiative adds a new twist as Pakistan fumbles for a response to Deve Gowda's letter

Wise Man From The West
Wise Man From The West
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

IT was like putting the cat among the pigeons. Frank Wisner, US ambassador to India, arrived in Pakistan for a lecture at its Command and Staff College, Quetta. And he immediately got down to business—a lecture on why and how relations with India should be improved. It was not the usual lecture dripping only with platitudes and diplomatese. Trying hard at balancing his discourse, not to sound as if he favoured India, Wisner came out quite clearly, urging Islamabad to recognise "certain fundamental realities" of the last 50 years. He endorsed the elections in Kashmir, going along with the Indian Election Commission's description of them as "imperfect" but saying they had contributed to the "empowerment of the Kashmiri people—and to the beginning of a political process in the state".

Wisner's lecture was prepared carefully. He was addressing the most powerful decision-makers in Pakistan. On issues related to India, the army has a decisive say. His visit naturally created quite a stir. The newspapers in Pakistan splashed everything he said. In a press conference he addressed in Islamabad, he made virtually the same point—that the time is ripe to settle the Kashmir dispute.

While US officials claim there has been no rethink on its Kashmir policy, anybody can see it has come a long way from RobinRaphel questioning the accession of Kashmir to India. Says former foreign secretary S.K. Singh: "These are all indications of change in the American thinking. The US intelligentsia, if not the administration, is beginning to realise that becoming a military crutch to Pakistan is good neither for them nor for Pakistan. Besides, they can't cope with the violent effervescence of Islam. There is also a growing awareness that the US has not given India's democracy the weightage it should...

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