Pentagon for pressure on India to win Pakistani cooperation: WSJ


Washington : The Pentagon, the US defence department, is actively lobbying for “more pressure” on New Delhi to ease tensions between India and Pakistan to win Islamabad’s cooperation in Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal has reported. It has also revealed that US President Barack Obama had issued a “secret directive” to intensify diplomacy towards that aim.

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Asserting that without detente between the two rivals, US efforts to win Pakistani cooperation in Afghanistan would suffer, the directive in December “concluded that India must make resolving its tensions with Pakistan a priority for progress to be made on US goals in the region”, the daily said citing “people familiar with its contents”.

A debate continues within the administration over how hard to push India, which has long resisted outside intervention in the conflict with its neighbour, it said. “The Pentagon, in particular, has sought more pressure on New Delhi,” the influential daily said citing US and Indian officials.

The journal cited current and former US officials as saying the discussion in Washington over how to approach India has intensified as “Pakistan ratchets up requests that the US intercede in a series of continuing disputes”.

The Obama administration has, so far, made few concrete demands of New Delhi, it said citing US and Indian officials.

According to US officials cited by the Journal, the only specific request has been to “discourage India from getting more involved in training the Afghan military, to ease Pakistani concerns about getting squeezed by India on two borders.”

The directive to top foreign-policy and national-security officials was summarised in a memo written by National Security Adviser James Jones at the end of the White House’s three-month review of Afghan war policy in December, the daily said.

According to US and Indian officials cited by the Journal, “the Pentagon has emerged in internal Obama administration debates as an active lobbyist for more pressure on India, with some officials already informally pressing Indian officials to take Pakistan’s concerns more seriously.”

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been among the more vocal advocates of a greater Indian role, “encouraging New Delhi to be more ‘transparent’ about its activities along the countries’ shared border and to cooperate more with Pakistan”, the Journal said citing a US military official.

US military officials were circumspect about what specific moves they would like to see from New Delhi, it said. “But according to people who have discussed India policy with Pentagon officials, the ideas discussed in internal debates include reducing the number of Indian troops in Kashmir or pulling back forces along the border.”

The State Department has “resisted such moves to pressure India, according to current and former US officials, insisting they could backfire,” the Journal said.