Obama won't push India on Pakistan strategy: Report



New York: US President Barack Obama will quietly encourage India to cool tensions with Pakistan and not push New Delhi to change its strategy towards its neighbour, a major US daily reported on Saturday.

US officials predicted that Obama "will quietly encourage India's leaders to do what they can to cool tensions between these nuclear-armed neighbours," The New York Times reported even though some US officials believed that New Delhi's "Cold Start" military strategy fueled tension between the two neighbours.

"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.

Obama will hold wide-ranging discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Monday.

The Cold Start 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 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