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Voices against Indo-Pak peace more in India: US expert

June 15, 2013 15:48 IST

An eminent American expert on South Asia has said that resistance to normalisation of Indo-Pak relations is coming more from New Delhi than Islamabad.

"The recent election in Pakistan, as well as the normalising of US-Pakistan relations, are necessary but not sufficient conditions for the regularising of India-Pakistan relations," noted American scholar Stephen P Cohen has said.

"Nawaz Sharif may have his heart in the right place, but there may be more resistance in India than he expects; this would be tragic, but perhaps likely," Cohen said.

"Also welcome are the growth of trade, and other ties, but the opposition to normal relations in both countries, perhaps more in India now than Pakistan, is still substantial," said Cohen during the release of his latest book, Shooting a Century: The India Pakistan Conundrum, which hit the book stores this week.

Recommending that the US should favour the resolution of the Kashmir dispute by pushing the two countries to accept the Line of Control as the international border, Cohen in his remarks at the Brookings Institute, a Washington-based eminent American think-tank, opposed the idea of "de-hyphenation" of India and Pakistan as done by the Obama Administration.

The US, he said, needs a strategy that sees India-Pakistan as a whole.

"While the 'de-hyphenation' was important, it led America away from creative ideas about how these two powers can be aided as they seek normal relations: these are not trivial countries, India will be the world's most populous state, Pakistan will be the world's fourth largest, and both have active and growing nuclear weapons programmes aimed at each other," he argued.

"From my perspective, it is more important that they have normal relations than they have good relations with the US, the former is a condition for the latter," Cohen said.

In his latest book, his 15th so far, Cohen argues for collaboration between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan.

He also recommends a civilian nuclear deal with Pakistan on the lines of that with India, so as to recognise Pakistan as a nuclear power.

"Washington went part way down this road when it entered into a civilian nuclear deal with India that legitimised New Delhi's nuclear status; it should find a formula that does the same for Pakistan, with the caveat that being a full member of the nuclear club means that Pakistan and India must assume the obligations set forth for nuclear weapons states under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)," Cohen wrote.

"Such a deal outside the NPT could build on Rajiv Gandhi's idea of regional nuclear regimes that anticipated the ultimate objective of global nuclear disarmament," Cohen said.

"This is a far more realistic goal than chimerical demands that India and Pakistan disarm and sign the NPT as non-nuclear weapons states," he said. 

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