Powell’s visit did little for South Asia, say analysts
NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s peace mission to South Asia made little impact on the military and diplomatic standoff between India and Pakistan, analysts said on Monday.
“The situation basically remains unaltered,” said Bharat Karnad, a senior analyst at the New Delhi-based independent Centre for Policy Research.
“There is no progress as such. All that has happened is that the United States is now increasingly showing its hand more than before. There is nothing new in the US position and India’s rejection of it.”
On a whirlwind tour of India and Pakistan, the US official ruffled New Delhi by urging it to get back to the dialogue table, allow foreign observers to monitor coming elections in Kashmir and free political prisoners in the
In Islamabad, Powell asked President Musharraf to do more to permanently end infiltration of Islamic militants into Kashmir.
“I don’t think there has been any substantial change in the situation,” said another Indian analyst Pran Chopra. “Just the atmospherics have changed.”
The analyst, in fact, detected a new pitch in US diplomacy but said this was more to do with needing to convince US audiences that Washington was having some influence in the region.
“Therefore, he was talking in a different tune this time,” he said. “(But) by saying that Kashmir is an international issue and that there was a need for international observers, I don’t think he has furthered his cause.”Far from having his suggestions accepted, Powell in fact was immediately rebuffed, with a testy Indian foreign ministry saying it didn’t need lessons on how to hold elections in Kashmir. Powell acknowledged the fact that his visit was not aimed at any immediate breakthroughs. “I am satisfied with the visit, it was not (as though) we were on the eve of war,” he said in Islamabad. “This was just an effort to keep the momentum moving.”
He also hinted gingerly that conditions for a resumption of dialogue could be in place before the end of the year, perhaps after local elections in Kashmir and parliamentary elections in Pakistan, both set for October.
“On the Indian side, I was pleased that there was a solid commitment to dialogue,” Powell said. “I would say that by the middle of the fall (autumn), if things go well across the Line of Control and we actually do see what President Musharraf is assuring us of, and if the election unfolds in a reasonable manner, then I think there is very good opportunity to really press for that dialogue to