Delhi’s darling Lisa Curtis tipped to be Trump Govt’s Assistant Secretary of State South Asia
Expert on India-Pakistan matters and terrorism, Curtis, who was recently in J&K, is strongly supported by the BJP top brass including PM Modi and Ram Madhav
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Feb 2: Strongly favoured by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party and the Government, New Delhi’s trusted diplomatic darling and the high-profile South-Asia expert, Lisa Curtis, is tipped to be the Trump Government’s Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs. Her appointment, according to highly placed diplomatic sources in New Delhi, is likely to be announced “within a few days”.
Sources disclosed to STATE TIMES that during her recent visit to India, when she also visited Jammu and Kashmir, Curtis met with top functionaries of the Modi Government and the BJP top brass. Those campaigning strongly but silently for her appointment include the party’s all-important General Secretary and an architect of the PDP-BJP Government in Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav.
“Curtis has a strong support from South Block to the National Security Council. We believe that the Indian diplomacy managers have campaigned for her appointment as Assistant Secretary South Asia. What Robin Raphel (1993) was to Pakistan, Lisa Curtis is to India”, said a senior diplomatic source. He, however, put in a caveat that her appointment was yet to be approved by the new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.
A conservative Republican activist, Curtis was reportedly part of the electoral campaign for Donald Trump in the US.
Immediately after the Republic Day ceremonies in Jammu, Curtis met with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh and a number of BJP leaders. She also visited Udhampur and held an extensive interaction with senior Army officers at headquarters of Northern Command. Sources said that the Government also arranged her visit and meetings with victims of the cross-border shelling on this side of International Border and LoC.
Curtis also flew to Srinagar and Gulmarg where, according to well-placed sources, she also met with a top separatist leader with the consent and knowledge of the Centre and the State Government. However, she did not make any such meeting public through social media.
A frequent visitor to J&K, Curtis is a Senior Research Fellow in the Asian Studies Center of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation, in the United States of America.
Curtis regularly travels to the South Asia region to participate in conferences. She has contributed chapters to books and academic journals, including a chapter on India in “Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics,” edited by Susan Yoshihara and Douglas A. Sylva (Potomac Books, 2011) and an article on Pakistan’s foreign policy in Contemporary South Asia (June 2012).
Before joining The Heritage Foundation in August 2006, Curtis worked for the U.S. government on South Asian issues for 16 years. From 2003 to 2006, she was a member of the professional staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where she was in charge of the South Asia portfolio for the chairman at the time, Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican representative from her State of Indiana.
From 2001 to 2003, Curtis was the White House-appointed senior adviser to the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian affairs, where she helped develop policy to manage Indo-Pakistani tensions. Before that, she worked as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency and, in the mid-1990s, served as a diplomat in the U.S. embassies in Pakistan and India.
In her numerous speeches at international conferences, besides her articles, interviews and panel discussions on the world’s top television channels, Curtis has unequivocally supported the Indian point of view on Pakistan, Kashmir and terrorism.
In a recent article, Curtis argued that the Chinese promised investment on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had boosted Pakistan’s confidence and spoiled prospects of a dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi.
“The issue of China and its role in the Indo-Pakistani dispute was raised in a panel discussion on Wednesday at The Heritage Foundation. In that discussion, I mentioned India’s concern that China’s promised $46 billion investment toward CPEC projects in Pakistan has boosted Islamabad’s confidence in its regional position and discouraged it from engaging in dialogue with New Delhi. I further noted that Washington must convince Beijing that if it wants to see the Islamist extremist threat diminished in South Asia, it must convince Islamabad to crack down on terrorist proxies that attack India”, Curtis wrote in her widely read article.
Curtis also supported India’s surgical strikes on the Pakistan-administered terrorist bases across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir immediately after the fidayeen attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in September 2016.
“The Indian strikes demonstrate the Modi government’s unwillingness to merely absorb Pakistani provocations. The attack in Uri on September 18 was the second major Pakistani provocation in the space of nine months. In early January, a Pakistan-based terrorist group, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, attacked the Indian air base at Pathankot, just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to Pakistan by paying a goodwill visit to Lahore. The Uri attack appeared to show Pakistani willingness to up the ante in order to draw international attention to Kashmir at a time when civil protests had been wracking the region”, Curtis wrote in another article.