When Obama became president of USA for the first time four years ago, some important actors believed he will play Jesus and use his good offices to settle various disputes across the globe. People in Kashmir also expressed optimism. They based their optimism on what they called desperation of US to make friends with the Muslim world.
The hopes were not totally unfounded. Obama in an interview to an Arab television said: "We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect." Although a candid confession but somebody has to play Jesus to ensure the cross and the crescent share a common firmament in near future.”
Immediately after Obama’s election, renowned Indian born US based Anthropologist Dr Angana Chatterjee visited Kashmir. During her interaction with people from different walks of life, she said: "America desperately wants to show to the world that it was not anti-Muslim. Something very positive is going to happen in the coming days. Of course Obama cannot touch Palestine. He has already hinted at pulling out from Iraq in a phased manner. We in US believe the Obama administration would concentrate on Kashmir."
Obama, himself, talked extensively about Kashmir. There was even talk of appointing former US president, Bill Clinton as special envoy on Kashmir. He not only offered mediation to Islamabad and New Delhi for early resolution of the Kashmir conflict but also linked Kashmir and Afghanistan. He believes the `war against terror’ in Afghanistan could not succeed unless Pakistan feels relieved along the border it shares with India.
The US government also sought suggestions from think tanks in the country for improving relations with the Muslim world. One such think tank even sent its draft to a credible Kashmiri group for consideration and feedback. The draft while identifying some grey areas has made a mention of Kashmir. According to the draft, India and Pakistan have already fought three wars on Kashmir. `America must try to find a solution to the Kashmir conflict.’ However, the think tank suggests freezing of the issue for twenty-five years initially followed by measures for permanent Kashmir settlement.
A series of articles in newspapers, magazines and journals across the globe added to the optimism shared by some people here in this neglected land. But as the time passed, the optimism started fading away as nothing moved at any front.
Most of the people who shared the optimism were not ready to accept that Obama had failed them. “Obama has assumed office when the American economy is not as rosy as it used to be. Most of his time shall be consumed in getting his country’s economy back on rails. The world leader, however, cannot ignore other issues of grave importance. The US has a strained relationship with the Muslim world. Smoothening it, therefore, is as important as fixing the economy”, they hoped against hope.
Obama has already started his second innings. The relation with Muslim world is as strained today as it was four years ago. Can he afford to touch Kashmir this time? The growing Chinese interest in Kashmir must be a cause of worry in Washington DC as well. Beijing has said in strong words that “Pakistan is to China what Israel is to US.” This important statement must have given sleepless nights to New Delhi and Washington DC.
So Obama will not play Jesus as far as Kashmir is concerned? If the statement of Pakistan Interior Ministry submitted in the supreme court is any indicator then it is safe to presume that Pakistan has (or is likely to take) its hands off Kashmir.
This is high time when the Kashmiri leadership must stand up and convey in clear and strong terms that no country including Pakistan and India or for that matter the US has a right to declare Kashmir as a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan.
Some elements will find it difficult to digest but this is the way out. Let nobody take the people of Jammu Kashmir for granted. This is what self determination is all about. Obama can secure American interests by making no mention of what policy makers in US call “K word”.
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