In its first four months in office, the Obama administration has embarked on a range of diplomatic initiatives related to the broader South Asia region. The administration conducted a policy review that included numerous high-level visits to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, and it invited leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan for meetings and consultations in Washington two times in the last four months. The Obama administration was also an instrumental actor at the April 2009 Ministerial Meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan conference in Tokyo.
This diplomacy and series of meetings have set the framework for a comprehensive approach to the region. One key element that needs to be on the agenda is addressing long-standing India-Pakistan tensions. Following the conclusion of the Indian general election cycle in mid-May and the subsequent formation of a government, the Obama administration and its international allies should engage in regional diplomacy that seeks to restart the composite dialogue process between Pakistan and India.
Any agreement on peace can only come with support from both populations and their leaders—and the United States—both through international forums and independently, should leverage its ties with both India and Pakistan to restart the dialogue on multiple tracks. Many U.S. policymakers express frustration with the Pakistani fixation on India. But Pakistan’s regional threat perceptions are not likely to change without a sustained regional security and diplomatic effort that includes steps toward ending the tensions between India and Pakistan. Ultimately, this process will require some joint resolution of the Kashmir question, and the cessation of assistance to nonstate actors operating against each state’s interests.
For more on this topic, please see: