The United States, the current Indian government, the current Afghan government, and the civilian leadership in Pakistan have a common enemy: Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – the Pakistani KGB – with its strong links to Islamist terrorist groups, including the group that carried out the Mumbai outrage.
Can we get ourselves organized to proclaim that enmity, and act on it? That looks to me like the Obama Administration’s first foreign-policy challenge.
The hard part will be getting India to rein in its security forces in Kashmir, and to offer the Kashmiri Muslims at least a decent bit of local autonomy. Of course the Hindu Nationalist opposition (the BJP), which actively supports anti-Muslim terrorism in India proper and is constantly pounding the drums for war with Pakistan, represents a formidable barrier, and, in the usual logic of extremism, the Muslim fanatics who carried out the Mumbai attack have strengthened the hands of the Hindu fanatics whom they hate and who hate them.
The U.S. government, for reasons that no doubt seemed good at the time, has been more or less in bed with the ISI since the Carter Administration. Time for a decisive move. If we have to use textile-trade policy (something that matters enormously to Indians and Pakistanis alike) as an instrument, I’m all for that on other grounds, and it might be harder for U.S. textile interests to resist a policy change in the context of the counter-terror strategy.
Update The good news is that Indian Muslims seem to be repudiating fundamentalist terror.