Obama on Kashmir


Many may wonder what US policy is toward India’s occupation of Kashmir—not because the US has the right to police the world or because of Hillary Clinton’s nationalist & racist insistence that because of “American exceptionalism” the US has a right to intervene–but because of the US military relationships with Pakistan & India, both the recipients of billions in US military aid. Pakistan is a key US ally not just in Afghanistan but the entire region; India is central to the US military buildup in the South Asia region as a buffer against China.

Comments by the US State Department when asked about Kashmir are carefully scripted gibberish. This is a recent statement: “As we have said many times, our policy on Kashmir is this: The pace, scope, & character of any discussions on Kashmir is for the two sides to determine, but we support any & all positive steps India & Pakistan can take to forge closer relations.” Not even no mention of the brutal Indian occupation, but no mention of Kashmiris. According to the US, it’s a dispute between Indian & Pakistan which Kashmiris are not party to.

Obama has met with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi seven times in the two years since Modi’s election & has commented about Kashmir on more than one occasion. For some unknown reason probably related to currying votes, in October 2008, two weeks before his election as president, Obama told Time magazine that “working with Pakistan & India to try to resolve the Kashmir crisis in a serious way” would be among the critical tasks of his administration. “It won’t be easy,” he said, “but it’s important.”

But by the time of his November 2010 news conference in New Delhi with then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, Obama had been chastened not just by India’s uproar about his campaign statement but by those who actually determine US foreign policy. He spouted the official line that “With respect to Kashmir, obviously this is a long-standing dispute between India & Pakistan” & the US would play no active role. Again at a November 2015 meeting in NYC between Obama & current prime minister Modi, Obama said ‘Kashmir is a bilateral issue to be resolved between India & Pakistan.’

There is no report that Kashmir was raised as an issue during Obama’s January 2015 state visit to India & Modi never mentioned Kashmir in his June 2016 address to the US Congress. For the US, Kashmir is of no consequence when Pakistan & India play such central roles in its military strategy. It’s the price Kashmiris, Palestinians, Afghans, Syrians, Iraqis, & for that matter Pakistanis & Indians play in the designs of US neoliberal capitalism.

The US has no right to intervene but in fact by militarily bankrolling India it is not neutral at all but supporting the occupation & arming India against Kashmiri self-determination. Human rights & antiwar activists around the world have a duty to protest the occupation & expose all the regimes who feign neutrality to Kashmiri justice.

In this photo from a state dinner in New Delhi, Obama toasts Modi, January 2015.

End the occupation. Self-determination for Kashmir.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)