U.S. considers re-merger of India, Pakistan desks


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  • Seven years after the State Department was restructured to ‘de-hyphenate’ U.S. relations with India and with Pakistan, it is considering a reversal of the move.
  • De-hyphenating refers to a policy started by the U.S. government under President Bush, but sealed by the Obama administration, of dealing with India and Pakistan in different silos, without referring to their bilateral relations.
  • It enabled the U.S. to build closer military and strategic ties with India without factoring in the reaction from Pakistan, and to continue its own strategy in Afghanistan with the help of the Pakistan military without referring back to India.
  • A proposal to re-merge the office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) back with the Bureau of South and Central Asia (SCA) that handles India, the rest of the subcontinent and Central Asian republics is under “active” consideration
  • The re-merger proposal is ostensibly timed with the international troops pullout from Afghanistan.
  • The de-hyphenation policy of the U.S. was crystallised when the SRAP was set up in 2009 soon after President Barack Obama had taken over, with the appointment of Richard Holbrooke.
  • At the time, Mr. Holbrooke had hoped to include India in his mandate, and even to discuss the resolution of Kashmir as a means to extract greater cooperation from Pakistan. India had strongly opposed the move.
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