|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|
March 16, 2000
CLINTON TO INDIAN SUBCONTINENT: SIGNS OF A 'GEOPOLITICAL SHIFT'?
As President Clinton prepares for his "historic" visit to the Indian subcontinent, with stops in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, editors in many parts of the globe commented on the "perilous" nature of the trip, given the divide separating India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue and the de facto nuclear status of the two "arch rivals." South Asia watchers determined that the "geopolitical and economic significance" of the president's visit was "undeniable," given the clues it would offer as to how the U.S. views India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Most observers held that the "five hours" Mr. Clinton would spend in Islamabad vs. his "five-day" sojourn in India should be enough to convince Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee of Washington's priorities. These writers, as well as a majority in India, held that Mr. Clinton's decision to land in Pakistan "for the briefest of stopovers" was the correct one, "if only," said Singapore's pro-government Straits Times, "to contain the region's gravest conflict," Kashmir. Tokyo's moderate Yomiuri took an even broader view, saying that the length of Mr. Clinton's stay in India demonstrated that the U.S. was "trying to 'position' India as a major player in international politics in the 21st century." Editorialists also made much of Mr. Clinton's visit to Bangladesh. In India, centrist papers contended that the president's state visit to Bangladesh, as opposed to the few hours he would spend in Pakistan, indicated that the "special U.S.-Pakistan relationship" was "dead" and that the U.S. "would rather have a 'moderate' and 'democratic' Bangladesh lead the Islamic world than an ideologically extremist Pakistan." Highlights in the commentary follow:
INDIA, LOOKING TOWARD A 'NEW SPRING' IN INDO-U.S. TIES?: In India, the president's decision to visit India and Bangladesh and the later announcement of his stopover in Pakistan unleashed a veritable tsunami of editorial comment. After an initial period of grousing that Mr. Clinton would add India's rival to his itinerary, commentators began to emphasize the positive. The centrist Times of India, for example, took heart that the Clinton administration was "loudly advertising its stand that the...stopover is not intended to confer legitimacy" on Pakistan's military regime, thus saving India "millions of dollars" in trying to disseminate the same message. A majority held that, given the "realities" of the subcontinent, Mr. Clinton had no choice but to visit Pakistan. On Indo-U.S. ties, many pundits deemed that improvements "would take some time," but offered "cautious welcome" to the "latest American formulations on Kashmir." A few averred that, particularly on nuclear issues, the U.S. should not expect any "compromises" from India nor should it "lecture" New Delhi on the subject.
EXPECTATIONS FROM PAKISTAN: Editorial writers determined that Kashmir would "top the agenda" in Pakistan and insisted that the U.S. "must compel India" to hold a referendum in the "occupied" territory. While a few dailies crowed that Mr. Clinton's decision to visit their country underscored "the importance that Pakistan commands, not only in the region, but the entire world," others, such as the centrist News, countered: "No one should choke with delight.... The White House statement is exceptionally clear on the framework of the visit: the return to civilian democratic rule, the need to fight terrorism [and] measures to avoid a nuclear...arms race in the region.... Islamabad should...expect some hard talk from Mr. Clinton."
EDITOR: Kathleen J. Brahney
This survey is based on 67 reports from 15 countries, February 21 - March 16. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.
INDIA: "Indo-U.S. Ties: A New Spring?"
This analysis by strategic affairs editor C. Raja Mohan appeared in the centrist Hindu (3/16): "Mr. Clinton has never made a secret of his desire to make peace in the sub-continent between India and Pakistan and to resolve the Kashmir dispute. But there should be enough awareness in Washington that it would be prudent for Mr. Clinton to walk this minefield rather gingerly. Mr. Clinton has a big opportunity in India to outline the principles of peace that will be just and could end Indian perceptions of the American tilt towards Pakistan on Kashmir.... If Mr. Clinton can...proclaim that the United States is opposed to further partition of the subcontinent, he will not only bring about a new spring in relations between the two countries but also lay the basis for a new, unprecedented warmth in Indo-U.S. relations. India is closely scrutinizing the latest American formulations on Kashmir outlined by the U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, and the first reaction is one of cautious welcome. The American opposition to changing the territorial status quo in Kashmir by use of force, the emphasis on respect for the Line of Control and a direct call to Pakistan to stop its campaign of terror against India are being seen here as a movement in the right direction. On the eve of...Bill Clinton's visit, there had been some expectation here that Washington would make explicit the subtle shift in its approach towards the Kashmir dispute since the Kargil confrontation."
"Atal Deals Democracy Ace To U.S."
A front-page dispatch in the centrist Telegraph by diplomatic correspondent Pranay Sharma emphasized (3/16): "A. B. Vajpayee today fell back on the Commonwealth to tell the United States that India cannot return to the talks table unless democracy is restored in Pakistan, and cautioned President Bill Clinton against legitimizing the Pervez Musharraf regime during his visit to that country.... Although Delhi has reluctantly come to terms with the Pakistan visit, it is now hardening its stand by telling the United States it should keep its hands off Kashmir and reiterating that it is in no hurry to resume talks.... With barely a week to go for Clinton's touchdown, India is laying the parameters for talks during the visit: No compromise on either Kashmir or the nuclear issue. Washington does not expect it either, at least not on the nuclear issue. It will concede Delhi has the sovereign right to decide what is necessary for its security, but will add the sting of a condemnation of the nuclear tests."
"Is Any Elementary Change In Indo-U.S. Relationship Possible?"
Nimrana Dialogue participant Bhabani Sengupta averred in Calcutta's Bengali-language Sambad Pratidin (3/16): "Powerful Americans are asking India to give up the Cold War mentality. Yet, the United States is still looking at the Third World at least through Cold War glasses.... Human rights, child labor, withdrawing the protection given to indigenous industries, allowing foreign capital to enter the market on its own terms, IPR--all these taken together present a combination of the Cold policies and an imperialistic attitude. Using this combination, the biggest power of the 20th century is still casting its ominous shadow over the Third World even in the 21st century. Not only India, no country, which is progressing, gaining power and has some pride, will agree to kowtow before these policies."
"Only Realism Will Work"
Former Foreign Secretary J.N. Dixit maintained in the nationalist Hindustan Times (3/15): "That Mr. Clinton is visiting India despite differences on nonproliferation and arms control issues remaining unresolved...proves that the United States remains interested in sustaining a dialogue with India to find a 'modus vivendi.' His coming also implies America's incremental inclination to deal with the realities of India's nuclear power, though this [will] be a gradual and very slow process.... There are inevitable differences on how India wishes the United States to treat Pakistan and how it wants to deal with Pakistan. There is no point in making this a governing factor on Indo-U.S. relations. The high blood pressure that we have shown about Mr. Clinton going to Islamabad, is irrelevant, impractical and smacks of an unnecessary inferiority complex."
"Time For Some Plainspeak"
The centrist Pioneer (3/15) had this analysis by Brahma Chellaney: "President Bill Clinton's visit will highlight that America's relations with India and Pakistan are moving in directions opposite to [those of] the Cold War decades. Washington is increasingly concerned with the way its old ally, Pakistan, is sliding gradually towards rogue-nation status. India, in contrast, is now seen by U.S. policymakers as an emerging economic and military power that needs to be cultivated.... But...if a strategic partnership with Washington is to emerge, India has to break loose from the Cold War straitjacket bracketing it with Pakistan.... While emphasizing shared interests, Mr. Vajpayee has to clearly tell Clinton India's concerns about Washington's policies toward China and Pakistan, its unwillingness to act on continuing Chinese nuclear and missile transfers to Islamabad, its blanket denial of advanced technology to India, and its reluctance to accept India's new status as a nuclear weapons state.... Just as the United States has been relentlessly pressing India to sign the CTBT since 1996, India has to unremittingly demand that Pakistan and Afghanistan be treated as terrorist states.... Clinton's visit can mark a turning point in bilateral relations only if yields more than photo opportunities, banquet speeches, sweet talk, an elephant ride and public adulation."
"Institutionalizing Indo-U.S. Talks Tops Clinton's Agenda"
Senior editor Manoj Joshi pointed out in the centrist Times of India (3/14): "India and the United States hope to sign a far-reaching agreement on institutionalizing the Singh-Talbott dialogue.... [But] just how far the two countries have to go is evident from the fact that they have not been able to achieve the first stage of the Singh-Talbott talks--India's signing CTBT in lieu of the United States' lifting the post-Pokhran II sanctions. But the intense Indo-U.S. engagement on strategic issues is considered valuable by both sides and hence the effort to institutionalize it. The United States is also keen to incorporate its exchanges with the defense ministry into the agreement."
"The American President's Green Agenda"
N.R. Krishnan, former secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, emphasized in the centrist Hindu (3/14): "Bill Clinton's acknowledgement of the feelings of the Green protesters in Seattle makes it certain that environment will be on his agenda during his visit to India this month. He would like to link trade with environmental issues fully in keeping with the foreign policy articulated by his administration ever since he took over as president.... [However,] it is unlikely that India will accept any commitment as that would put the brakes on the country's energy development.... A possible item India will take up at the talks is the Washington practice of not recognizing knowledge available outside the United States as state-of-the-art, while granting patent protection to products derived from natural resources, such as plants....
"While it is too much to expect that anything remarkable will be achieved during the talks, at least a beginning could be made towards a solution."
"Mr. Clinton's Visit To Pakistan"
The centrist Hindu had this editorial (3/13): "[By stopping in Pakistan,] Mr. Clinton walks a very thin line. If the visit, rare and long awaited, of an American president is not to be construed as an endorsement of the regime of General Pervez Musharraf, Mr. Clinton must take his message of hope to the people of that beleaguered nation, with an emphasis on the imperative of returning to democracy. As the dastardly killing in Karachi of the lawyer assisting defence in the trial of the ousted prime minister, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, during the weekend indicates, Pakistan is a nation in dire need of the healing touch."
An editorial in the centrist Times of India stressed (3/13): "Splashed with the elixir of spring, the CTBT, U.S. sanctions and resolutions on Kashmir might be liberated from the black-and-white stalemate in which they are currently deadlocked.... Far from trivializing Mr. Clinton's agenda, the suggestion that he join us in our festive rites of spring could imbue the visit with a spontaneous freshness. After all, playing ping-pong diplomacy with China did wonders for Nixon's less than shining image. So what say, Bill? Forget High Noon. Come on and join in. Holi hai!"
"Why Like Poles Repel"
T.C. A. Srinivasa Raghavan opined in the pro-economic-reforms Business Standard (3/13): "I see no realistic way in which the fundamental difference [between the United States and India] in their approach to economic problems can be resolved quickly.... [Also,] India resents [U.S. policy on non-proliferation] and the success with which the United States has pursued it. The United States...is resentful of India's nuclear ambitions, not because India poses a military threat to it, but because no one likes to be defied.... The very fact that we can engage America's attention at the presidential level has, I believe, enhanced our security. The United States has a very strong interest now in ensuring that there is no war."
"Talk Chinese To Clinton"
Francios Gautier told readers of the centrist Indian Express (3/13): "What if the Indian government had reacted...'OK, Mr. President, you want to go to Pakistan? Fine, but you go only there, as we do not wish your visit any more [and] will wait for the next president!' This is exactly what the Chinese would have done if Clinton had announced at the last moment that the was stopping over in Taiwan.... But no: 'We Indians are gentlemen and this is not our way,' says the government.... All right: Mr. Clinton is coming. But it is hoped that he will not lecture India and show a little bit of respect for a country which is 10,000 years older than his own."
"Economic Priorities Will Guide Political Ties"
Former Foreign Secretary J. N. Dixit averred in the centrist Pioneer (3/13): "As far as the U.S. president's visit to Pakistan is concerned, we should not make a song and dance about it because he is going there per the assessment of his government's priorities.... There is validity in the argument that Clinton's trip to Pakistan will legitimize its military regime, but even we are dealing with it and have also dealt with dictators of Pakistan and Bangladesh earlier. We must see the Clinton visit in a larger perspective, not just limit it to Pakistan."
"Bangladesh Scores Over Pakistan"
Strategic affairs editor C. Raja Mohan opined in the centrist Hindu (3/12): "Clinton will spend a full day in Bangladesh and barely a few hours in Pakistan. His trip to Dhaka will be a state visit in Islamabad it won't be.... Pakistan has the advantages of a geo-strategic location, a powerful army, and now nuclear weapons to boot. Bangladesh cannot boast of any of these, but it has something else the United States has always valued--petroleum.... Washington has a huge stake in the stability of the Islamic world. It would rather have a 'moderate' and 'democratic' Bangladesh lead the Islamic world than an ideologically extremist Pakistan."
"Benefits Of 'Congagement'"
Sunanda K. Datta Ray declared in the pro-economic-reforms Business Standard (3/12): "'Congagement' is a delightful word reflecting the subtlety of U.S. policy towards China--containing the Asian hegemon even while both sides derive huge rewards from engagement. It could also apply to India or Pakistan. Our dilemma, highlighted by the excitement of Bill Clinton's visit, is that we want neither engagement nor containment, but only diplomatic and military support. That is not realistic. But China's achievement confirms the scope for fine-tuning the relationship if we can go beyond Pakistan and proliferation...and ensure that India's economy is also strong enough to dissolve other irritants."
"Thank God Clinton's Stopping In Pak"
K. Subrahmanyam wrote in the centrist Times of India (3/11): "The Clinton administration is loudly advertising its stand that the presidential stopover is not intended to confer legitimacy on the Pakistani military regime. If India were to try and convince the world that General Musharraf's regime is illegitimate--which is what the United States pronouncements make clear--we would have to spend millions of dollars. Fortunately for us, American officials are likely to repeat this message day in and day out for the next two weeks and no one in the world would be left in any doubt about the illegitimacy of Islamabad's current rulers."
Assistant Editor Pramit Pal Chaudhuri wrote in the centrist Telegraph (3/11): "The only trump Islamabad had was the atomic joker.... The United States could not simply walk away from a Pakistan in internal chaos.... The special U.S.-Pakistan relationship [is] dead. But a new one, based on a fear of an out of control Islamabad, [is] evolving.... Pakistan will never be able to worm its way back into Washington's good books.... The Clinton visit shows Pakistan commanding less positive U.S. interest than Bangladesh.... Musharraf should know that the U.S. president will be meeting him because Pakistan's future...is so bleak that Washington is too scared to let it be alone."
An editorial in the centrist Times of India held (3/10): "[The] ignorance of basic facts on the Kashmir resolution on the part of the U.S. president reflects very poorly on the Indian foreign office since the architect of that resolution, Dr. Josef Korbel, was the father of the present U.S. secretary of state. The August 13, 1948 resolution was in three parts.... Pakistan never fulfilled Part II, without which Part III remained in limbo. Subsequently, Pakistan was in glaring default of Part I as well.... This enormous failure to project India's case on Kashmir--and the fact that it was not India but Pakistan which failed to implement the UN resolution--goes back several decades."
"Now, The Focus Is On Pakistan"
The centrist Hindu's K.K. Katyal maintained (3/10): "Clinton's presence in Islamabad could be used for confronting the military rulers with pointed queries on [terrorism.]... He will...have an opportunity to convey to the military ruler India's latest thinking on the situation in the subcontinent."
"The Difference Between A Visit And A Stopover"
The centrist Asian Age provided this analysis (3/10) by member of the Congress Working Committee K. Natwar Singh, who asked: "Why in the name of heaven should India object to Mr. Clinton going to Pakistan?... This government, instead of drawing up the travel schedule of Mr. Clinton, should have paid more attention to substantial matters and ensured the success of the Clinton visit--the first by an American in over 22 years. President Clinton is by far the most well read, most cerebral and a communicator par excellence. He [will] have done his homework. No fog-making generalities from him. What we should aim at is a steady and durable bilateral relationship tempered by realism and buttressed by friendly understanding of each others' positions. He is assured a warm welcome. However, we should resist the temptation of going overboard and overdoing mehmandari. Balance, maturity and dignified conduct by all should always be adhered to."
"Clinton's Expected Decision"
Calcutta's centrist, independent, Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika opined (3/10): "Those who were demanding that Clinton should teach Pervez Musharraf a lesson by turning away from Islamabad do not understand either U.S. foreign policy or the reality of this subcontinent.... One of the essential elements of Clinton's South Asia policy is to bring back peace and stability to this region, and to abate the nuclear race. To achieve this, in one sense, both India and Pakistan's roles are equal."
"Force Of Habit"
An editorial in the centrist Times of India judged (3/9): "Whether one approves of General Pervez Musharraf or not, it must be admitted that he has won a victory by demonstrating to the world the limitations of U.S. power. No other military ruler can claim that he could compel the U.S. president to visit him for a handshake after he spurned Washington's publicly proffered advice not to interrupt the democratic process."
The centrist Indian Express asserted (3/9): "It is all very well for Clinton to engage the general, but...instead of raising suspicions in India by regularly uttering the K word, perhaps he would be better off extracting from Musharraf the promise he got from Nawaz Sharif: respect for the sanctity of the Line of Control."
The centrist Telegraph opined (3/9): "Mr. Bill Clinton's telephone call to...Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, informing him of his intention to stop over in Pakistan did not come as a surprise.... But the United States cannot afford to abandon its old ally, [Pakistan]...if only because of Islamabad's potential for nuclear blackmail."
An editorial in the centrist Pioneer averred (3/9): "The argument that it is a mere stopover [in Pakistan] and by no means the kind of full-fledged visit that would have warmed General Pervez Musharraf's heart, does not wash. The stopover would be enough for Pakistan's military dictator to save his face and project it as a U.S. endorsement of his coup and his regime."
An editorial in the centrist Asian Age contended (3/9): "Clinton has decided according to his country's interests and these do not allow the exclusion of Pakistan from his visit to the region. This is a reality which the [Indian] government here chose to ignore in its obsessive desire to teach Pakistan a lesson.... It was imperative for [President Clinton] to keep the channels of communication open with all the concerned countries in the region, and hence the short visit.... India should now turn its attention to strengthening bilateral relations with the United States and not continue with its shortsighted diplomatic maneuvers that are having a negative impact on the world image of the nation."
"Clinton Will Go To Pakistan"
An editorial in Calcutta's pro-BJP, Bengali-language Bartaman said (3/9): "One should not be surprised or lose heart if Clinton goes to Pakistan to appease General Musharraf.... It is not becoming of India to show resentment over this issue. It should also not be hurt. The United States will formulate its own policies in its own usual manner, not after considering India's feelings."
An editorial in the independent, Tamil-language Dinamani recommended (3/9): "Let us not bother about Clinton's stopover in Islamabad for a few hours. During his proposed five-day stay in our country, President Clinton is going to engage himself in productive talks with Prime Minister Vajpayee in...important areas. No power can stop the blossoming of new relations between our two countries. Not only that, but President Clinton has hoped that his Indian visit 'would begin a new chapter in the relations of the two countries.' Why not take this statement as a good omen?"
"South Block Has No Illusions"
Bangalore's left-of-center Deccan Herald insisted (3/8): "The visit is not likely to be much more than symbolic.... South Block has no illusions that the Clinton visit will lead to an instant breakthrough in any major area of concern to either India or the United States."
"Clinton Dials Pak Bad News To Atal"
Diplomatic correspondent Pranay Sharma judged in the centrist Telegraph (3/8): "Everyone knew it was coming, but no one thought it would come like this. It was left to India to end the suspense over Bill Clinton's itinerary and announce that he would make a 'brief stopover' in Islamabad during his South Asia tour."
"Clinton To Focus On Economic Ties"
Associate editor K. K. Katyal judged in the centrist Hindu (3/8): "Clinton...is certain to urge India to resolve Kashmir problem through political means rather than military action and to resume dialogue with Pakistan. India, in turn, will reiterate its stand--that the end of trans-border terrorism is an important factor for India to restart talks with Islamabad. The United States may not accept this linkage, but otherwise could be expected to make known its strong disapproval of the activities of terrorist outfits in Pakistan."
"Carrots And Sticks"
Security analyst Brahma Chellaney argued in the nationalist Hindustan Times (3/8): "The fact is that outside the group of alleged 'rogue' states, India today faces the most extensive and rigorous U.S. sanctions, some in effect for three decades.... The United States' strategy of rewarding 'good behavior' can be emulated by New Delhi to provide favored market access, especially in the consumer and other lower-technology sectors, to nations behaving well towards India. By enacting a reciprocal sanctions act, India will put sanctions-imposing countries on notice."
"Clinton's India Visit And China"
An editorial in centrist Navbharat Times said (3/6): "India should guard against China's attempts to come in the way of President Clinton's visit to India. Clinton's visit to India has raised the hackles of the Chinese leadership and Beijing is worried that the balance of power in Asia may be tilted toward India.... With President Clinton's visit, hopefully the Indo-U.S. strategic dialogue will gain further strength, which will go a long way in establishing peace in South Asia and the rest of Asia."
PAKISTAN: "U.S. Wants Indo-Pak Nuclear Plans Rolled Back"
Peshawar's independent Frontier Post noted (3/16): "Washington expects both Pakistan as well as India to sign the CTBT and roll back their nuclear programs, with Secretary Albright saying that American concerns about proliferation override its all other interests in South Asia."
"Consensus Is The Only Solution Of The Kashmir Issue"
An editorial in Islamabad's popular, Urdu-language Ausaf held (3/16): "Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar has said that the government has prepared its agenda for talks with President Clinton, which include: resolving the Kashmir issue, removing economic sanctions and developing bilateral cooperation.... The Kashmir issue is at the top of this agenda.... If the United States sincerely wants to play a role in solving the Kashmir issue, then it must compel India to hold a referendum in occupied Kashmir under UN supervision to determine whether the Kashmiris want independence or not."
"Clinton's Agenda And Pakistan's Strategy"
An editorial in sensationalist Khabrain insisted (3/16): "Indian rulers have changed their stand on President Clinton's offer for mediation on the Kashmir dispute. No question of any mediation was the stand earlier, while now the diplomatic tone hints at Indian willingness to consider mediation.... This situation is promising for Pakistan."
"Kashmir Issue--Vajpayee's Agreement On Talks"
An editorial in independent Nawa-e-Waqt judged (3/15): "The Indian officials' tone has changed, anyway. Now [they] desist from ruling out dialogue on Kashmir. Vajpayee has admitted to having failed in convincing America on India's stance on Jammu and Kashmir.... This all happened due to our steadfast stand on Kashmir."
The pro-Muslim League, Urdu-language Pakistan held (3/15): "Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee has admitted that America considers Kashmir a disputed territory.... The U.S. president's interest in the resolution of the Kashmir issue and [his] perception of the dispute's gravity is a good omen for security in the region. Pakistan's stand that the Kashmir dispute cannot be resolved through bilateral dialogue and that it requires international intervention is being given weight. The attitude of some Pakistani political elements vis-a-vis America's possible role [regarding the dispute] is nothing but emotionalism.... No one should doubt that, at present, America is serious about the resolution of the Kashmir dispute."
"A Place In South Asia"
An op-ed column by Ghazi Salahuddin in the centrist News argued (3/14): "We should also have some apprehensions about the projection of Pakistan's image in the international media at the end of the visit. When the State Department spokesman emphasized on Thursday that the presidential visit was 'not a reward' for Pakistan, he was reported to have said: 'They may call it that, but it's not. And I think it will be clear when the visit is over.'"
The center-right Nation opined (3/14): "Without going into the likelihood or otherwise of President Clinton's addressing the issue of Kashmir, a casual look at the merits of the positions taken by the two protagonists would reveal who wants to resolve the problem and who does not. General Musharraf says that he wants to solve the problem through talks, with or without a third-party role. Mr. Vajpayee says that no talks can be held unless Pakistan accepts that Kashmir is an integral part of India.... As to which of the two sides is being reasonable and which is not, we leave that to President Clinton.... Let President Clinton use his position as the leader of the only superpower of the world to declare who is wrong and who is right on this issue and then say how all that is wrong can be righted."
"Visit Of U.S. President: Test of the Wisdom Of Pakistani Leadership"
An editorial in Islamabad's popular, Urdu-language Ausaf read (3/13): "We know that the present government can not fulfill the U.S. agenda and that rebuffing the U.S. agenda means that we will be isolated on the global level. A cycle will begin that will to paralyze us economically and create a number of problems for us. The only solution to this is to formally announce a timeframe [for the restoration of democracy]."
"Clinton On Kashmir"
An editorial in the center-right Nation said (3/13): "While the United States continues to be on the defensive against Indian criticism of President Clinton's visit to Pakistan, explaining again and again that it did not imply legitimization of the present government and...that the U.S. decision to remain engaged with [Pakistan] was meant to protect certain vital U.S. interests...two other points (also not likely to please India) have now been made by Mr. Clinton.
"He was addressing a gathering of religious leaders in the White House. 'The most dangerous place in the world today,' he said, 'is the subcontinent and the Line of Control in Kashmir.' The implications of the remarks being that the conflict in Kashmir is not an internal matter of India. It is much more than a regional issue. It is a global issue. It cannot, therefore, be swept under the rug as India wants to.... And by terming it a global issue and not something in the India backwaters, Clinton legitimized his own role in resolving it. Will our Indian friends ponder that?"
"Clinton's Visit And The American Agenda"
An editorial in independent, Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt said (3/11): "It is clear that America has tilted in favor of India, we therefore should not trust any of its promises or claims, and neither should we succumb to any pressure. How can we trust America when it did not return the F-16 money and is not even willing to give us wheat in lieu of the dollars? India has created the risk of war, conciliatory steps should be asked from it."
"Pakistan's Internal Situation And Clinton's Views"
An editorial in the pro-Muslim League, Urdu-language Pakistan contended (3/11): "Despite reservations about Pakistan's internal situation, President Clinton's decision to visit Pakistan augurs well for the future. The decision hints at President Clinton's persistent resolve to play an important role in disputed matters of subcontinent.... National interests demand quick action for the restoration of democracy and establishment of democratic institutions."
"Clinton's Five-Point Agenda"
An editorial in the sensationalist, Urdu-language Ummat said (3/11): "Whatever the U.S. president and his government say about his forthcoming visit to Pakistan, there is no denying the fact that the United States now fully realizes the position and importance that Pakistan commands not only in the region but the entire world. Whatever they say for public consumption, it is nothing but reality that the United States has accepted the military government of Pakistan. There is no denying the fact that the United States cannot play its global role until such time that it resolves the Kashmir issue."
"U.S. And The Musharraf Government"
An editorial in Karachi's right-wing, pro-Islamic unity Jasarat averred (3/11): "There is a clear duplicity in U.S. politics. On the one hand it considers the military government as illegitimate, while on the other it feels the need [to keep it engaged]. President Clinton is very right in saying that U.S. interests are at stake in the region. Therefore he is less worried about democracy...than about U.S. interests."
"Fear Of Nuclear Conflict Over Kashmir Prompts Clinton Trip"
The centrist News insisted (3/10): "Alarm at the growing risk of a war between India and Pakistan that might 'go nuclear' prompted President Bill Clinton to add Pakistan to his South Asian tour this month."
"Clinton's Visit to Pakistan Could Guarantee Regional Security"
Leading, mass-circulation Jang insisted (3/9): "The United States can never commit the blunder of isolating the world's seventh nuclear power and the most important member of the Islamic world while formulating its policies regarding the subcontinent. All U.S. trade interests and its investment in India rely heavily on peace and stability in the region.
"This cannot be achieved unless and until India seriously considers solving the core issue of Kashmir.... President Clinton will have to press India to solve the Kashmir issue in order to ensure the security of the U.S. investment there."
Pro-Muslim League, Urdu-language Pakistan concluded (3/9): "It is a pleasure that General Pervez Musharraf's government has intelligently and honorably conveyed to the United States that it does not harbor the objective of blocking the democratic process. Hence the March 23 announcement of the first phase for restoration of democracy.... We understand President Clinton's...Asia visit as a good omen for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue and peace [in the region]. If he succeeds in sprinkling some water on the smoldering fire in South Asia, he will be deserving thanks from all peace-loving people."
"The Coming Challenge"
The centrist News cautioned (3/9): "No one should choke with delight, because the real test of nerves has just begun. The White House statement is exceptionally clear on the framework of the visit: the return to civilian democratic rule, the need to fight terrorism [and] measures to avoid a nuclear...arms race in the region.... Islamabad should...expect some hard talk from Mr. Clinton."
BANGLADESH: "Significance Of The Clinton Visit"
Independent, Bangla-language Prothom Alo opined (3/14): "The geopolitical and economic significance of the coming visit of President Clinton is undeniable. This will be the first visit of a U.S. president to Bangladesh. The infamy, which the United States earned by opposing Bangladesh's war of liberation about three decades ago, has mostly been erased by more recent history. It now can be said that friendship and cooperation between the United States and Bangladesh have grown.... There is no reason to think that the visit of a U.S. president will open doors for us to be rich. Bangladesh will have to stand on its own feet with its own resources and might. The main issues of our agenda with President Clinton will be how to use our gas resources, increase quotas for exporting garments, and regularize illegal Bangladeshi immigrants."
"Clinton's Visit: Expectations Of Our Garments Sector"
An editorial page article in the centrist, English-language Independent held (3/14): "The people of Bangladesh are eagerly awaiting the visit of Bill Clinton. On the occasion of the visit...we hope that the 30 percent quota to the country for the development of the textile and ready-made garments (RMG) sectors will be extended because Bangladesh and its textile and apparel industry have taken permanent steps to eliminate child labor. Independent monitors have verified that 97 percent of Bangladeshi textile and apparel factories are child labor free.... It is only fitting that the United States should [now] provide new opportunities to the industry."
"Clinton's Visit And U.S. Interests In Bangladesh"
An editorial in Bangla-language Sangbad opined (3/13): "Some web pages in India and the United States indicate that, regarding Bangladesh, the United States has more serious considerations than gas. The Indian newspaper Hindu writes that, if the United States is looking for a modern and liberal Islamic nation, then Bangladesh's position is unparalleled. The United States has searched for such a nation within Pakistan for a long time. The reality is that Pakistan has become a playing ground for extremists and fundamentalists.
"Americans now think that it is better for America to invest to make Bangladesh modern and prosperous than to save Pakistan from turning into a failed nation. It seems that Americans are viewing Bangladesh as an example of how Islam and democracy can exist side by side."
NEPAL: "What Actually Drives Indian Foreign Policy?"
The centrist Kathmandu Post (3/15) offered this view: "Given India's...obsessive, if hopelessly futile, efforts to have America brand Pakistan a 'terrorist state' in the aftermath of the recent Indian Airlines hijacking episode, one must truly wonder who actually drives Indian foreign/security policy: the political establishment up-front or a puissant but shadowy, behind-the-scenes group that actually calls the shots?... Hugely revealing...are outpourings in the 'independent' Indian mainstream media--including the fulminations of K. Subrahmanyam...that mock Washington for bowing to Pakistan's dictates, when, that is, the mythology of a putative 'U.S.-Pakistan-China' axis is not being flogged to death. The actual reality is starkly different: It is India which has been most assiduous in attempting to dictate to the United States what her South Asian priorities ought to be.... Notably, while Washington has made it plain that the Clinton visit is not an endorsement for a non-democratic Pakistan, it has recognized the centrality of the Kashmir dispute to prospects of peace or war in South Asia--anathema to India. Also, Clinton has referred to Pakistan as an ally during the Cold War and recalled that 'Pakistan on more than one occasion has helped us arrest terrorists, often at some risk to the regime.' Let us now see if...Clinton is able to coax India on a solution to the Kashmir imbroglio by pandering to her desire for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council!"
"U.S.-South Asian Relations"
Centrist Nepal Jagaran opined (2/21): "Clinton's forthcoming visit will present a concrete indication of the extent of American willingness to regard India as a reliable partner for peace and security in South Asia, and of how it looks at India and Pakistan."
BRITAIN: "A Subcontinent Awaits"
The conservative Times featured this editorial (3/15): "Mr. Clinton is looking for a change in Delhi's attitudes to reflect the evolving geopolitical balance. He will make much of India's economic opening and its mastery of the new technologies. He will insist that the alliances shaped during the Cold War are now replaced with global responsibilities. And he will tell India that with its nuclear status now confirmed, it cannot hold out indefinitely against global pressure for a CTBT. Atal B. Vajpayee, his host, will listen very politely; he is unlikely to concede ground. Instead, the Indian prime minister is seeking, symbolically and in treaty language, American acknowledgment of India's new relations with Washington, its growing economic clout, its regional importance and the military threat from its neighbor.... In Pakistan, Mr. Clinton will find General Pervez Musharraf eager to discuss Kashmir in keeping with Pakistan's attempt to internationalize the conflict. But the American response will be dusty: Washington is convinced that Pakistan encouraged the infiltration by militants across the Line of Control, is sheltering the Indian airliner hijackers, and has made little effort to discourage Islamic extremism and the activities of Osama bin Laden. Mr. Clinton has more leverage on a country desperate for support as it grapples with economic, social and political collapse. But unless he can convey, even sotto voce, some fresh thinking from Delhi on Kashmir, he will find the subcontinent as barrenly unreceptive to American initiatives as the test sites where the two states raised their enmity to nuclear levels."
FRANCE: "India: A Headache For Clinton"
Left-of-center weekly Le Nouvel Observateur stressed (2/24): "For Bill Clinton, this will be the most perilous trip of his career. India has already made it clear that it will accept no interference on the Kashmir issue with Pakistan and would like the U.S. president to cancel his visit to Islamabad, which would be considered by Pakistan as an insult."
GERMANY: "Change Of Course For U.S. In South Asia"
Roland Heine offered these views in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (2/24): "So far, only two dates are certain on Clinton's itinerary: the five-day visit to India, Pakistan's arch rival, and the stay in Bangladesh, which separated from Pakistan in 1971. If this itinerary remains set, it would be more than a momentary defeat for the military leaders around General Pervez Musharaf, who have been eager to promote stability and international recognition since their putsch in October 1999. According to observers, such an event would be seen as an open departure of the United States from its long-time but ailing ally, Pakistan, and a move towards the up-and-coming regional power, India. It would also strengthen India's position in the ongoing fight with Pakistan over Kashmir."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
JAPAN: "Beginning Of A Strategic Shift In Asia"
An editorial in top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (3/16): "The U.S. president is expected to discuss with Indian and Pakistani leaders nuclear development, the Kashmir dispute and the signing of the CTBT. Mr. Clinton will also discuss the transfer of power to a civilian government, terrorism, narcotics, etc., with the Pakistani government. Needless to say, these problems are closely related to not only regional security but world stability as well. But at a time when India and Pakistan...are trying to...become major military powers, can the president readily obtain a compromise from the two most 'uncompromising' nuclear states? President Clinton is planning to stay in India for more days than in Pakistan. This shows [that]...the United States is trying to 'position' India as a major player in international politics for the 21st century. Clinton's talks with Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee are likely to become an occasion to start new strategic talks for the wide region extending from the Asia-Pacific region to the Middle East. Japan should keep a...watch on signs of a possible shift in the strategic balance in Asia."
CHINA: "India-Pakistan Ties Need Mending"
Zahir Shah Afridi recommended in the official, English-language China Daily (3/4): "Before Clinton's visit to South Asia, the State Department should fairly discuss the issues of peace and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region with the Chinese leadership, as close collaboration between the two powers is critical for regional stability and security.... Hopefully Clinton's visit will truly bring some signs of relief for the South Asian region."
HONG KONG: "A Time To Yield"
The independent South China Morning Post remarked (3/15): "The U.S. president's visit to the subcontinent is delicately balanced to avoid disturbing Indian sensitivities. Five days in New Delhi and five hours in Islamabad should be enough to convince Mr. Vajpayee's government of U.S. priorities. Despite the lack of a democratic regime in Pakistan, Washington would act as honest broker. The two sides have to talk--and Mr. Clinton will undoubtedly say so, whether or not he can persuade New Delhi to let him act as a middleman."
SINGAPORE: "It's Kashmir, Stupid"
The pro-government Straits Times' editorial maintained (3/10): "Although Mr. Clinton's office has scheduled the briefest of stopovers--four hours--in Islamabad, the diplomatic impact is of sufficient heft to have India regard the development as a defeat of some sort. It need not be. It was the right decision to have made, if only to contain the region's gravest conflict. Had Mr. Clinton bypassed Pakistan, its leader General Pervez Musharraf's internal opposition from militant hotheads might be emboldened to chip away at his authority. It is not in Pakistan's interests to have the Musharraf military administration weakened before it has restored accountability to the political system, and change a bazaar morality whereby every act of public service comes at a price.... The Kashmir factor...is pivotal. If Mr. Clinton were to visit only India and Bangladesh, neither he nor the next president would have the moral suasion to help bring about a solution."
SOUTH KOREA: "Embracing South Asia"
Moderate Hankook Ilbo indicated (3/13): "President Clinton is embarking on a historic tour of South Asia. While its impact will be enormous, the event will most likely end up as a symbolic visit. Genuine results will be hard to come by mainly for two reasons--the region's complicated strategic situation as well as America's own political calendar.… Clinton's lame duck status, combined with his administration's own failure over the CTBT, are additional factors that significantly reduce his authority in India and Pakistan.... One U.S. calculation must be aimed at holding China in check. Washington wants India...on its side."
THAILAND: "A Pushy Clinton Will Achieve Little"
The lead editorial in the top-circulation, moderately conservative Bangkok Post insisted (3/6): "If Mr. Clinton arrives in New Delhi armed with the same rhetoric espoused by Madeleine Albright...centered on nuclear nonproliferation, the effect of his visit will end when he boards the plane to go home. Mr. Vajpayee made it clear again on Friday that he will not be signing the CTBT 'under pressure' from the United States but will sign it 'once India has built a domestic consensus on the pact.'... The United States has a great opportunity staring it in the face, if only it decides on a new, softer and more strategic approach. An Indian-U.S. alliance could well be beneficial not only for those two nations but for the future peace of the Asian region as a whole."
CANADA: "Along A Thorny Path"
Contributing Foreign Editor Eric Margolis stressed in the conservative Ottawa Sun (3/13): "India and its friends in the United States have mounted an intense campaign to portray Pakistan as a supporter of Islamic terrorism, drug running and airplane hijacking. None of these charges is accurate, but each has struck a sensitive nerve in Washington, which is dismayed by the overthrow of the civilian regime of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by the army, and Pakistan's nuclear arsenal--while turning a blind eye to India's far larger nuclear force. As a result, President Bill Clinton will only make a brief airport stop in Pakistan when he visits India and Bangladesh from March 18-25. India has already won the propaganda war in Washington. Yet the Indian government remains nervous about events in Kashmir and Clinton's visit."
"Mr. Clinton Goes To India"
Columnist Alexander Rose suggested in the conservative National Post (3/8): "From our point of view...India could help the West by...buffering Chinese influence in the Himalayas and Indian Ocean (especially if Indonesia splinters) and...by using its enhanced 'great power' status...[by] creating a regional balance of power with China, which has similar ambitions.... A pro-Western India would also present a powerful geographic and moral barrier to the spread of radical Islam eastward from Afghanistan/Pakistan."
"Fire Along The Border"
Foreign affairs analyst Eric Margolis asserted in the conservative Toronto Sun (3/6): "Only the United States has the diplomatic clout to prevent the drift to war now under way between India and Pakistan.... American diplomatic intervention is urgently required, as is outside mediation of the explosive Kashmir dispute."
BRAZIL: "Problematic Visit"
Center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo's Asia correspondent argued (3/10): "If Bill Clinton did not visit Pakistan, that country would be seriously offended. If Bill Clinton visited Pakistan, India would be seriously offended. Clinton finally decided to visit Pakistan for a few hours.... Even so, New Delhi became offended. A series of increasingly serious misunderstandings makes one predict a visit threatened by failure... Clinton will also face a barrier with regards to nuclear non-proliferation... There is not the slightest chance of India signing the CTBT... Clinton is 'discovering' South Asia at a time when relations between India and Pakistan are frostier than ever."
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