Young Kashmiri activists yearn for an ‘Arab Spring’ - and more Western attention
But while US support for Arab uprisings is reinvigorating hopes among Kashmiris, whose persistence complicates US efforts to draw closer to India and win more cooperation from Pakistan, it is also sharpening longstanding disappointment.
The US role
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the imposing octogenarian leader of Kashmir's separatist movement, minces no words, chiding the United States for what he sees as its shortcomings on Kashmir. For half a century, Mr. Geelani has been involved in the struggle, and remembers how the US sponsored the first United Nations resolution calling for Kashmiri self-determination. In recent years, however, Washington has courted New Delhi as a rising power – and dropped its public pressure, at least, over Kashmir. In March, Timothy Roemer, US ambassador to India, visited Kashmir but declined to meet separatist leaders.
"You have seen in Egypt only 17 days of strikes. And we are doing strikes since 1947 ... and you good people, pious people, very intelligent people, very moderate people, and very prosperous people, you have not taken notice," he says in an interview at his home, where some dozen Indian police keep him under house arrest.
Still, he takes a very long view of what he sees as the current, unpromising diplomatic calculus. "Superpowers are not forever superpowers," he reminds.
The US has played an active role in restarting talks between India and Pakistan that began March 28. And Geelani's younger counterpart among the separatist leadership, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, sees more immediate signs of change. At conferences in the West since the Arab uprisings, he says, people approach him about Kashmir.