Decorated Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel, soon after assuming charge of Secretary of Defence, came out with a statement promising to renew old US alliances and forge new ones without attempting to ‘dictate’ to the world. “We can’t dictate to the world. But we must engage the world. We must lead with our allies,” he said in what are reported to be his unscripted remarks. “No nation, as great as America is, can do any of this alone.” If one has to take his remarks in letter and in spirit, one would hope that his approach to resolving sensitive international issues would be positive. The US is, no doubt, the mightiest superpower in the world, but Hagel has rightly assessed the limits of power in this age.

Some serious voices are being heard from the Senate, Israelis and the Indians who have reacted to his views expressed some years back. The critics fail to realize Hagel has the US interest at heart while he was making these statements and US policymakers would do well to change their thinking about several international issues in the light of his remarks. For us, Kashmir that constitutes a major hurdle to achieving enduring peace between Pakistan and India calls for a fresh approach that Secretary Hagel seems to have adopted. Islamabad must reach out to him to bring home the urgency of resolving the dispute, which periodically raises serious tension between the two.