Obama should not link Kashmir with Pak's problems: NSA

NSA M K Narayanan
Coming out strongly against any attempt to link Kashmir issue with turmoil in Pakistan's tribal areas, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan has said that US President Barack Obama would be 'barking up the wrong tree' if he holds such views.

Narayanan said India had made it known to the Obama team at the outset that it would not like Indo-Pak relations to be on the agenda of Richard Holbrooke, special envoy of the US for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"References made by President Obama did seem to suggest that there is some kind of a link between the settlement on Pakistan's western border and the Kashmir issue. Certainly that had caused concern," he told Karan Thapar's 'India Tonight' programme.

He was responding to reported suggestions by Obama during his campaign that Pakistan's fight against Taliban on the western front is linked to resolution of Kashmir issue.

The NSA pointed out that such references were made by Obama when he was in the campaign mode or when he was president-elect.

"We tend to sort of say lets wait and see what he does when he come into office," Narayanan said, adding "I don't think we had any major exchanges with members of the Obama administration later on" though the US President had made courtesy call and discussed bilateral ties.

"I do think that we could make President Obama understand, if he does have any such views then he is barking up the wrong tree," he said.

Narayanan noted that there could be some 'elements' in the Obama administration "who are harping back to a pre-2000 era" and giving such briefings to the President.

"The point I am making is that the team with Obama must realise that a great deal has happened in the decade that is gone by. Let them come and see and discuss with us what has happened rather than decide without consulting. This is what needs to be done," he added.

Pointing out that India is not making 'a big issue' right now, he said, "I think, its possible to convince them.. I don't think it is going to be an insurmountable issue."

He underlined that Kashmir today has become "one of the quieter, safer places in this part of the world" and if Obama visits the state, "he would see the kind of things that people want -- they want electricity, better connectivity of the internet, you know well the usual kind of stuff".

Making it clear that India does not want "anyone to come to us for Kashmir", Narayanan said "anything will happen by misguided (persons) or sort of misplaying".

On Holbrooke's visit to India expected soon, he said the envoy would be welcomed here as India has "vital interest" in what he would say about Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Underlining that India has reservations about somebody being a special envoy for Kashmir, Narayanan said "If he (Holbrooke) brings up Kashmir, we will explain to him what the position is, what we obtain to do."

He said, "we are willing to discuss that this has happened in the past. I mean, there have been special envoys who had come and discussed with India issues in this part of the region."

Elaborating on India's objection to anyone trying to mediate on Kashmir, Narayanan said, "There are competent people who will try again and create problems in Kashmir. That is the only problem that we have and that is not anybody can discuss Kashmir with us. We don't want anyone to come to us for Kashmir."

The NSA said that there have been special envoys who had come here and discussed with India issues in this part of the region.

"If you have a special envoy it could give an opportunity. That kind of thing. Like that we would be interested in things that are happening elsewhere also," he said.

Narayanan said after the latter part of the Clinton regime and the eight years of Bush's rule, India figures much more prominently in the calculations of the United States than Pakistan or the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Asked whether it would have been easy to deal with Bush administration rather than Obama on the issue of terrorism and bringing Lashkar-e-Toiba to justice, he said he did not think so.

"As far as this area is concerned, I think in fighting terrorism, he (Obama) will be guided principally by top part of the administration which we were associated with in the recent years. I don't see any problem," he said.

"I think both the countries have started a course which cannot be easily reversed," he added.

On strengthening NPT and possibility of increased international pressure on India to sign it, he said, "I presume that instead of ratifying CTBT and NPT, I think there would be more pressure on us. I think we will solve the problem when it comes to us. We had pressure in the past too".

Narayanan said the world would be having a "re-look" at the NPT as across the world, experts are looking at the treaty in a different manner.

"As of now we are a nuclear weapons power and nobody can prevent us and come and say that we are not a nuclear power," the NSA said.

Asked if he expects Obama to make any changes in the civil-nuclear deal, he said, "I don't think he will have some reservations in a deal which was signed by his predecessor. I don't think he will make changes. That is not the way democracy works and that is not the way US democracy works".

Asserting that after the civil nuclear initiative, the relationship between India and US is strongly bound, he said, "we do have differences with America. On certain issues related to West Asia, we have differences with the US and also regarding the CTBT and NPT".

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