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The Kashmir Interlocutors Report – But Who Will Listen?

By Jenny Mackness, http://www.flickr.com/photos/53375223@N00/5172641938/sizes/m/in/photostream/

June 1, 2012: In the summer of 2010, riots of youth throwing stones and calling for “azadi” – freedom from Indian rule – convulsed the Valley of Kashmir. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pleaded eloquently to “give peace a chance,” and appointed a panel of three “Interlocutors” to assess public opinion in the state and make recommendations to resolve its seemingly intractable problems. On May 24, the Indian government finally released the report the panel had submitted to it seven months earlier. The long delay suggests that the report, despite the good sense in many of its recommendations, will join a long list of missed opportunities to transform political relations between New Delhi and Srinagar.

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Pakistan’s New Player

President Obama and PM Gilani, http://www.flickr.com/photos/anhonorablegerman/7028232641/

The Pakistan parliament has now completed its action on a resolution defining the terms of reference for future Pakistan-U.S. relations, adopting it without formal dissent. Action now passes to the Pakistani cabinet, which must formally initiate discussions with the United States. All eyes will be on how the U.S. and Pakistani governments negotiate the actual working of this troubled relationship. The parliament’s central role in this process also tells us about some things that have changed – and some that have not – in the way Pakistan’s government institutions work, both internally and with the United States. Both countries should take this opportunity to revise their well-practiced negotiating tactics, which have become a recipe for failure.

Read our article, published on foreignpolicy.com April 23, 2012.

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Manmohan Singh and Asif Zardari: A Hopeful Encounter

Photo by radicaleye, http://www.flickr.com/photos/moviemaverick/88581751/sizes/m/in/photostream/

April 10, 2012: Four months ago, Pakistani president Asif Zardari’s trip to Dubai for medical treatment sparked intense rumors of a military coup. Last weekend, Zardari lunched in Delhi with Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and was photographed wearing a flamboyant turban at a renowned Sufi shrine at Ajmer in Rajasthan. What happened and what does it mean?

No one, least of all two longtime observers of the South Asia scene like us, expected to see India-Pakistan relations transformed by this Easter Sunday luncheon in New Delhi, the first meeting in a bilateral setting between the top leaders of India and Pakistan in seven years. But the brief summit session usefully highlighted the accelerating strengthening of ties over the past year or so. It also raised hopes that further progress can be achieved if the two sides persist in the sensible, unspectacular approach they have recently followed. Read more

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Sri Lanka and the United States: Post-Geneva Repair

Photo by Nimal, http://www.flickr.com/photos/nimal/4446877029/

The meeting in Geneva is over, leaving a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. It’s time to put Sri Lanka’s political rebuilding on track, and repair U.S.-Sri Lanka relations in the process.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s op-ed published in the Sunday Times, Colombo, April 1, 2012.

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Colombo, Geneva and Washington

Photo from flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/vikalpasl/6838061254/sizes/m/in/photostream/

At the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Sri Lankan and U.S. governments are facing off this week over a resolution that the U.S. has proposed but neither side wanted. Sri Lanka’s response to the events at the end of its toxic war – the subject of that resolution – has become the driving issue in Sri Lanka’s relations with the United States. The resolution may not have much impact on the reconciliation process that is so critical for Sri Lanka’s future. For the sake of Sri Lanka, the region and indeed Washington, it is important that reconciliation actually take place.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s article published in The Hindu March 22, 2012.

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Resetting the U.S.-Pakistan Relationship

Parliament, Islamabad. Photo courtesy of flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigberto/3297096128/sizes/m/in/photostream/

2011 was a catastrophic year for U.S.-Pakistan relations. Starting with CIA contractor Ray Davis’s arrest for shooting two Pakistanis dead case in January, going on through the raid on Abbottabad in early May that killed Osama bin Laden, and culminating in the NATO forces lethal attack on a Pakistani border post in November 2011, a series of shocks shook this important partnership to its core. Both countries expect their future relationship to be more modest, but neither has defined this concept. As they grapple with this change, U.S. policymakers need to recognize that Pakistan, not Afghanistan, is the big issue, and to develop building blocks for a post-2014 relationship that meets the needs of both countries.

Read our article, published in foreignpolicy.com March 19, 2012.

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Polio Eradication in India: To the Verge of Victory – and Beyond

CSIS Schaffer_PolioIndia_110

India’s struggle against major health challenges in the past few decades has been a white-knuckle ride, with India illustrating some of the best as well as the worst of the health problems of the developing world.

But now – even though those closest to the effort are unwilling to declare victory prematurely – there is a good chance that India’s polio eradication campaign will tell a more inspiring story. In 1988, when the World Health Assembly formally adopted polio eradication as a global goal, WHO data recorded 23,800 cases of polio in India. At this writing, it has been a year since the last case was identified, in West Bengal on January 13, 2011.

Read full report, published by CSIS January 24, 2012.

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India and the Nonproliferation System

India and the United States have been at odds over nuclear issues for more than three decades, and yet both countries’ interests are powerfully affected by the spread of nuclear weapons. The Working Group on an Expanded Non- Proliferation System, chaired by Teresita Schaffer and Joan Rohlfing, President of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, set out to answer the question, “What would be necessary to have India and the United States work together as active participants in the international non-proliferation system?” The working group, which consisted of a dozen members from India and the United States, with each group drawn about equally from nuclear experts and senior foreign policy figures, recommended bringing India into the four major multilateral export control groups; its report recommends a number of other ways to enhance India-U.S. cooperation and help protect the world from nuclear dangers.

Read full report on NTI web site.

Follow links to the group’s working papers. (click on drop-down menu at top of page)

Read summary of seminar on the report and next steps in reducing nuclear dangers, at Brookings, January 5, 2012.

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A Welcome Appointment at a Critical Time

Photo by State Department

President Obama chose the U.S. government’s top South Asia hand, Nancy Powell, as his next ambassador to Delhi. She will need to address some long-running problems, help both governments find a compatible vision for their partnership and, importantly, keep the top leadership on both sides personally engaged.

See our article in The Hindu, December 21, 2011

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U.S. and Pakistani Goals Diverge

Photo by IIP State http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/4055150185/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Pakistan and the United States have pursued an important partnership for many years, but their goals diverge.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s contribution to the U.S. News and World Report Debate Club, published on the U.S. News web site October 27, 2011.

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