India should lead like a rising power: NYT

May 19th, 2009 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 19 (IANS) Armed with a stable people’s mandate, India should exercise the kind of regional and global leadership expected of a rising power now and find a way to resolve tensions with Pakistan over Kashmir, the New York Times suggested Tuesday.

“It is past time for India - stronger both economically and in international stature - to find a way to resolve tensions with Pakistan over Kashmir,” the influential US daily said in an editorial on “India’s Challenges” after the parliamentary elections.

“If that festering sore cannot be addressed directly, then broader regional talks on environmental and water issues might be an interim way to find common ground. Ignoring Kashmir is no longer an option,” the Times said.

Much of the post-vote analysis has focused on the daunting domestic agenda, the daily said. “But now that Congress has a stable mandate - and can shuck a fractious coalition - it is time for India to exercise the kind of regional and global leadership expected of a rising power.”

“It can start with neighbouring Pakistan, arguably the most dangerous country on earth,” the Times said referring to its own report about US belief that Islamabad is rapidly expanding a nuclear arsenal thought to already contain 80 to 100 weapons.

“India is essential to what Pakistan will do,” it said noting New Delhi exercised welcome restraint when it did not attack Pakistan after the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai by Pakistani-based extremists.

“But tensions remain high, and the Pakistani Army continues to view India as its main adversary,” the daily said suggesting that India should take the lead in initiating arms control talks with Pakistan and China.

“It should also declare its intention to stop producing nuclear weapons fuel, even before a proposed multinational treaty is negotiated. That would provide leverage for Washington and others to exhort Pakistan to do the same.”

India has played a constructive role in helping rebuild Afghanistan, but it must take steps to allay Islamabad’s concerns that this is a plan to encircle Pakistan, the daily said. “It should foster regional trade with Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

“India is the dominant power in South Asia, but it has been hesitant to assume its responsibilities,” the Times said. “The Congress Party has to do better - starting with Pakistan.”

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