Monday, August 18, 2008

What Musharraf's Resignation Means for India

IHT: Musharraf quits as Pakistan’s president

I wrote last week about what a resignation by Musharraf would mean for the U.S. and our Afghanistan policy. This week, from a different perspective: the perspective of India.

India has recently seen an upturn in the amount of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. The territory is disputed between Pakistan and India – three wars have been fought over it, as well as both sides gaining nuclear weapons in the 60 year conflict. Some in the India-administered Kashmir would like to secede from India and join Pakistan, and vice versa. Recently, Muslims in Indian administrated Kashmir have increased protests. During some of these protests, a handful of protestors have been killed by Indian police. The protests rage on today.

A power vacuum

India worries that with the resignation of Musharraf, there will be a power vacuum in Pakistan. That is very legitimate concern. It is likely the next elected president will be weak, at least temporarily if not permanently, and the Pakistani parliament is likely to break down into its feuding factions: the PPP (the party of Benazir Bhutto), the PML-N (the party of Nawaz Sharif), the Islamists, and everyone else.

None of these parties is particularly competent; most all are corrupt. Corruption, however, is not India’s worry. India’s worry in the executive and legislative branch is Islamic fundamentalists. They could very much endanger stability and the peace process. As well, India has no one to talk to that would be in complete control.

Yet, there is one larger worry: the powerful army and the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI. The army helped fund militants in Kashmir that sparked the 1998 almost-all-out war between Pakistan and India. The ISI has always trained militants as well, and is believed to have been involved in the recent bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.

The last comment I have is this: the U.S. and India still have ongoing talks about a nuclear power deal for India.