Is Kashmir key to Afghan peace?
Barack Obama says resolving the Indian-Pakistani dispute over Kashmir will be a goal of his presidency, ending eight years of silence on the issue.
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Repeatedly, Pakistan's Army has acted to prevent this from happening. It has done this by cultivating networks of militants as a proxy army. In Afghanistan, the Pakistan-backed mujahideen chased out the Soviet Union, India's ally. Then the Pakistan-backed Taliban took control of the country, preventing it from falling into the hands of pro-India Northern Alliance warlords.Skip to next paragraph
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This proxy war continues. India has invested $750 million and pledged $450 million more to the government of President Hamid Karzai, who is strongly pro-India. India is Afghanistan's largest trade partner. And it has taken the provocative step of opening consulates in two cities sitting on the border with Pakistan – Jalalabad and Kandahar.
Pakistan claims Indian intelligence agencies are using these consulates as bases, though it has never made this evidence public. Generally speaking, the allegations are that India is funding separatist militants in the Pakistani province of Balochistan.
"India wants to destabilize [Pakistan's tribal areas] and Balochistan," said Rahman Malik, a Pakistani government security adviser during a trip to Washington.
Analysts say this might be true, but only to a small degree. Militants "might be getting some support from India, but it's not anywhere near what the Pakistanis like to suggest," says Marvin Weinbaum, an analyst at the Middle East Institute in Washington.
Privately, a Pakistani diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity agrees. India's involvement in the unrest along Pakistan's western front "might be no more than 5 percent of all the trouble out there."
But publicly, Pakistan "is basing its Afghan and Indian policy on its perception," says Mr. Weinbaum.
In July, militants struck the Indian Embassy in Kabul with a bomb blast that killed 41 people. American intelligence agencies have said they have evidence that Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, was involved.
"Even today, the Pakistani military sees India as the threat," says Ms. Dormandy, of Harvard. "Until that attitude changes, you're not going to see Pakistan step back from its historically strong use of militant assets to affect foreign policy."
There are signs that this attitude is beginning to change. Pakistan is now fighting many of the militants it once sheltered in Bajaur and Swat in northern Pakistan. Obama's intent would be to accelerate this process and send a clear message to Pakistan.
"Why do you want to keep on being bogged down with [India and Kashmir], particularly at a time where the biggest threat now is coming from the Afghan border?" he told Time. "I think there is a moment where potentially we could get their attention."