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Balancing Act Diplomacy Not Enough

Balancing Act Diplomacy Not EnoughThe U.S. must play a greater role in resolving the conflict between India and Pakistan or risk continued instability in the region, says a Tufts expert.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [06.18.02] The ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan centers around 86,000 square miles of land -- a disputed territory roughly the size of Utah. For the last half-century, the two countries have waged several wars to determine the fate of Kashmir, and will likely wage another if the U.S. does not intervene, says an expert at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

"Without resolution of the Kashmir issue, durable peace in South Asia is only a dream," Hassan Abbas -- a South Asian specialist and master's degree candidate at Tufts -- wrote in an opinion piece in the Washington Times. "The United States can plat a very crucial role in this scenario, but it has to do more than 'balancing act' diplomacy."

Efforts by the U.S. so far have not only fallen short, but could be considered counter-productive, Abbas wrote.

"Public opinion in both India and Pakistan is increasingly becoming very critical of the United States, as people from both sides mistakenly think that the United States is taking the other's side," he wrote in the Times.

And public opinion is a major force in the conflict over Kashmir.

"Both states have linked the Kashmir issue with their national identities in an inextricable manner that has made their standpoints irreconcilable," he wrote. "This narrow-mindedness has developed and entrenched a culture of hate and animosity between the people of the two countries."

For decades, India and Pakistan have poured money into their military forces -- preparing for future battles with each other.

"Over the years, India and Pakistan fought three major wars, in addition to numerous limited armed conflicts -- all of which meant spending billions of dollars to acquire deadly weapons at the cost of economic development and progress," Abbas wrote in the Times.

And now both countries have developed nuclear weapons, and have already shown signs they are ready to use them if necessary.

Though neighboring countries in the region have attempted to intervene -- including Russia, China, Turkey and Iran, Abbas says the U.S. is best able to bring peace to the region.

"It is U.S. interests that are really at stake, due to this instability and it is America's influence and leverage that is the most significant factor," Abbas wrote in the Times.

During his upcoming visit to the region, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld must be prepared to force Pakistan's leadership to crack down on militants while ensuring that India addresses human rights issues in Kashmir, he wrote.

According to Abbas, if Rumsfeld doesn't take a firm position on these important issues, his "intervention will be short lived."

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