WASHINGTON: Richard Holbrooke, the veteran American diplomat who died today, though dubbed a trouble shooter, had publicly praised India’s role in Afghanistan; and had withstood all Pakistani pressure to have Kashmir issue linked with the Af-Pak problem.
Though named as Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, veteran American diplomat was instrumental in the opening of the Mumbai chapter of the prestigious Asia Society and bringing out a comprehensive Task Force report on India-US relationship.
During his tenure as Chair of the prestigious Asia Society from 2002 till January 2009, when the US President, Mr Barack Obama, appointed him as the Special US Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Holbrooke established the Asia Society Centre in Mumbai; as he realised the importance of India, especially its economic potential.
In fact the very month he joined the Obama Administration, under his leadership the Asia Society brought out a Task Force report on India US relationship, which noted that India matters to virtually every major foreign policy issue that will confront the United States in the years ahead.
“Bilateral relations between India and the US have undergone an unprecedented transformation over the last decade, but the two countries are still learning how to work together in order to create stronger and more meaningful US-India collaborations on multiple fronts,” Holbrooke wrote in a joint forward to the Task Force report along with Ms Visakha Desai, the president of Asia Society.
“This task force report outlines concise and practical policy recommendations and encourages the Obama Administration to keep India as one of its top foreign policy priorities,” Holbrooke and Ms Desai wrote in January 2009.
“The US-India partnership will be central to solutions to Asia’s and the world’s most challenging problems.
The task force recommends that inter-governmental initiatives need to be complemented by vibrant private sector partnerships, which can help solidify the relationship on a far broader level,” Holbrooke and Ms Desai wrote; which gave a glimpse of the top American diplomat’s view about India.
However, once he joined the Administration and became the point man for Afghanistan and Pakistan, his relationship with New Delhi did not appear to be on best of the term.
Mainstream American media reported that Holbrooke wanted to have Kashmir and India in his mandate; which annoyed New Delhi and they ensured that Holbrooke’s jurisdiction remains restricted to Afghanistan and Pakistan.