In a secret directive, President Barack Obama has asked his administration to intensify efforts to make India resolve its tensions with Pakistan, a priority for progress of the “US goals in the region”.
He has also asked his officials to intensify American diplomacy aimed at easing tensions between India and Pakistan, asserting that without detente between the two rivals, the administration’s efforts to win Pakistani cooperation in Afghanistan would suffer, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The directive, issued in December, concluded that “India must make resolving its tensions with Pakistan a priority for progress to be made on US goals in the region,” the US daily said quoting ‘people familiar with its contents’.
According to officials, the Pentagon, in particular, has sought more pressure on New Delhi, it said.
The only specific US request to New Delhi has been to “discourage India from getting more involved in training the Afghan military, to ease Pakistani concerns about getting squeezed by India on two borders”, the journal said quoting US and Indian officials.
The move comes amid continued requests by Pakistan for an intercession by the US in Indo-Pak disputes, despite a longstanding resistance from India to any mediation by a foreign country.
Pakistan has long regarded Afghanistan as providing “strategic depth” or a buffer zone in a potential conflict with India, and does not want India to have a larger influence in the country.
“Current and former US officials said the discussion in Washington over how to approach India has intensified as Pakistan ratchets up requests that the US intercede in a series of continuing disputes,” it said, adding the White House declined to comment on Obama’s directive or on the debate within the administration over India policy.
The directive to top foreign-policy and national-security officials was summarised in a memo written by National Security Adviser James Jones at the end of the White House’s three-month review of Afghan war policy in December, the journal said.
US military officials were circumspect about what specific moves they would like to see from New Delhi, the Journal said.
But according to people who have discussed India policy with Pentagon officials, the ideas discussed in internal debates include reducing the number of Indian troops in Kashmir or pulling back forces along the border, it said.
A 56-page dossier presented by the Pakistani government to the Obama administration ahead of Strategic Dialogue in Washington last month “contained a litany of accusations against the Indian government, and suggestions the US intercede on Pakistan’s behalf”, the journal reported quoting officials as saying.