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Should the US help India and Pakistan normalize their relations? If so, what role should it play? Mediation, facilitation or hands off?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Why the US should be involved in the normalization process.
    1. The impossibility to choose between India and Pakistan.
    2. The need for normalization of bilateral relations for stability.
    3. New conditions favoring US involvement.
  3. What the US should do: Various analyses from experts.
    1. General agreement on the need for US action.
    2. A variety of proposed strategies.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography.

Although a full historical of the disputes between India and Pakistan and the problem of Kashmir is not necessary, it is important to remember that in the last years, the situation has greatly evolved with for instance, the nuclear tests of 1998, the Kargil War of 1999, the US-led war on terror especially in Central and South Asia. One of the major problems of the dispute is the great difference of perception that exists between Indian and Pakistani leaders, which affects their expectations and strategies. India considers Kashmir as a domestic issue whereas Pakistan sees it as an issue of ?incompleteness? of its national territory. Islamabad's priority is thus to resolve the Kashmir issue first and then normalize bilateral relations, whereas New Delhi considers normalization as a prerequisite for the resolution of this dispute.

[...] The US should let India and Pakistan lead their ?composite dialogue?, welcome any new steps toward normalization (like the creation of the bus lines, negotiations on the Sir Creek dispute resumed in 2006, or any other Confidence Building Measure or mid-level officials talks), and even propose technical assistance but on a very neutral position. They consider that being too much involved would imply making decisions that could not be accepted by one or two of the parties and thus be counterproductive (especially in Pakistan, where the population is already concerned because of the improved US-Indian relationship and the discontinued history of relations with the US). [...]

[...] Even if the situations are not similar, it is interesting to see how the US provided economic and military assistance to both countries but under the condition that the Europeans cooperate and resolve their disputes. So the general idea is that the US should play a greater role and facilitate the normalization process. It should of course not try to find and impose a ?magic solution?, but instead promote a bilateral settlement. The US should offer incentives for each positive step and avoid taking one side. [...]

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