Obama unlikely to push India hard on ‘Cold Start’ doctrine against Pakistan

November 6th, 2010 - 1:03 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Nov.6 (ANI): Obama administration officials have said that the American president is unlikely to push the Indian leadership hard to formally disavow an obscure military doctrine that they contend is fueling tensions between New Delhi and Pakistan.

The officials said they did not expect President Obama to broach the subject of the doctrine, known informally as Cold Start.

At the most, they predicted that Obama would quietly encourage India’s leaders to do what they can to cool tensions between these nuclear-armed neighbors, the New York Times reports.

According to the NYT, that would be a victory for India, which denies the very existence of Cold Start, a plan to deploy new ground forces that could strike inside Pakistan quickly in the event of a conflict.

India has argued strenuously that the United States, if it wants a wide-ranging partnership of leading democracies, has to stop viewing it through the lens of Pakistan and the Afghanistan war.

It is also a victory for those in the administration who agree that the United States and India should focus on broader concerns, including commercial ties, military sales, climate change and regional security.

“There are people in the administration who want us to engage India positively,” the NYT quoted an administration official, as saying.

“They don’t care about Afghanistan. Then there are people, like Petraeus, who have wars to fight,” he added, while speaking on condition of anonymity.

It maybe recalled that Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan, is among those who have warned internally about the dangers of Cold Start, according to American and Indian officials.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, share these fears.

The strategy calls for India to create fast-moving battle groups that could deliver a contained but sharp retaliatory ground strike inside Pakistan within three days of suffering a terrorist attack by militants based in Pakistan, yet not do enough damage to set off a nuclear confrontation.

Pakistani officials have repeatedly stressed to the United States that worries about Cold Start are at the root of their refusal to redeploy forces away from the border with India so that they can fight Islamic militants in the frontier region near Afghanistan.

That point was made most recently during a visit to Washington last month by Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. (ANI)

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