`Obama won`t push India on Pak strategy`

US officials predict that Barack Obama will quietly encourage India to cool tensions with Pakistan.

Last Updated: Nov 06, 2010, 12:25 PM IST

New York: During his three-day trip to India, US President Barack Obama will not push New Delhi to change its Pakistan strategy, described as "Cold Start" which US officials believe fuels tension between the two neighbours.

US officials predicted that Obama "will quietly encourage India`s leaders to do what they can to cool tensions between these nuclear-armed neighbours," according to a report
in The New York Times.

"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," the report said.

The strategy involves creating "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."

"There are people in the administration who want us to engage India positively," said an administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Gen David H Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan, is among those who have warned internally about the dangers of Cold Start, NYT quoted American and Indian
officials as saying.

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, it said.

NYT pointed out that Pakistan uses the existence of "Cold Start" as a justification for not redeploying forces away from the border with India to fight against militants on
the Af-Pak border, and this was repeated by Pakistan`s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani during his visit to the US last month.

The matter was also raised during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who told the Obama administration that India had no plans to attack Pakistan and the subject did not merit discussion during Obama`s visit.

Analysts also pointed out that Cold Start had been overblown by Pakistan, which was using it as an excuse not to fight the extremists in its backyard.

"The Pakistanis will use everything they can to delay or drag out doing a serious reorientation of their military," said Stephen P Cohen, an expert on South Asia at the Brookings Institution.

PTI