India Competes for US Attention with Chin-Pak by Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle SignUp
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India Competes for US Attention with Chin-Pak
by Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle Bookmark and Share

Indo US 3.0 was very much the theme of the week in New Delhi as Indian opinion makers analyzed the Clinton visit in greater detail. Looking beyond the rhetoric, it was hyphenation of relations with Chin-Pak (China Pakistan) that stands out as the US is attempting to balance realpolitik with the value systems associated with democracies.

The visit of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was well planned with the itinerary denoting wide ranging interaction with people from all social strata and of course the government. Three important agreements (i) on creation of a Science & Technology Endowment Board (ii) a Technical Safeguards Agreement which will permit the launch of civil or non-commercial satellites containing US components on Indian space launch vehicles and (iii) end-use monitoring arrangements that will henceforth be referred to in letters of acceptance for Indian procurement of US defence technology and equipment have been inked during the visit.

The Secretary of State was also particularly vocal in indicating that her enthusiasm for expanding relationship was shared by President Obama. Personally for Hillary Clinton recovering from a long lay off from an injured shoulder, it was important to assert her authority on foreign policy with news emanating from the White House stating that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and his group in the West Wing was calling the shots in this arena as per Gordon G Chang.

Thus the India visit along with interaction with ASEAN at Phuket and the follow up to Beijing may denote a reassertion of Hillary's stamp on US foreign policy. There were many positive and some negative responses from both sides which the U S administration has taken in its strides, but the Indian government seems to be in some quandary given the opposition to closer engagement with the United States even in some sections of the ruling Congress party.

A dimension of Indo US relations is balancing the same with American interests in other parts of the region, particularly with Pakistan and China. US analysts believe that the Obama administration is looking to hedge policy by seeking alternatives to the G2 combination and for this India along with Russia forms an important dyad. While on one hand Russia is seen to be, 'insecure, secretive, intolerant and unpredictable Russia' as per Chang, 'Clinton's concept of siding with another large democracy seems much more attractive--and sustainable'.

Indian analysts are also wary of the emerging G2, though Secretary Clinton indicated very forthrightly that relations with China and Pakistan were also important for Washington. Clinton was also careful to color the engagement with India as a special one as both the countries were democracies which have common interests and show mutual respect to each other providing greater scope for development on congruent lines in the long term. Indian analysts working on the either/or premise of the Cold War need to note that emerging diplomacy paradigms would involve intersecting and stand alone circles of engagement between nations rather than exclusive alliances.

However the Secretary of State also significantly gave much hope to India when she clearly identified the location of those who were part of the planning and execution of the attacks of 9/11 against the United States to be in the border area of Pakistan. Here again a distinction has been made now whereas earlier many administration officials would refer to these areas as, 'border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan', this time she has been specific in stating that the presence was in the border areas of Pakistan.

With reference to Iran as well she was clear that there was congruence in the position adopted by both the countries on dangers posed to global stability, if Iran were to become a nuclear weapons power.

Another issue of debate is Afghanistan-Pakistan. Neither India nor the United States wants to be closely associated with U.S. involvement in either Afghanistan or Pakistan. India has provided aid for Afghanistan's reconstruction and wants to see a stable Afghanistan emerge. Indian long term policy in Pakistan calls for a stable Pakistan. The most important event on India-Pakistan ties was meeting of the two countries' prime ministers in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, just before Secretary Clinton arrived in Delhi.

Some in the Indian establishment have seen this as driven by the United States but while the US has been generally insisting that the two countries must come together, there are no specific indications that the agreement has been pushed by Washington and seems to be generally an initiative by the Indian establishment to have rapprochement which is inevitable with Pakistan for stability in the Sub Continent. There may be differences in the timing and the strategies to be followed for the same but on the whole the Indian policy establishment has this as one of the primary driving agendas for the future.

So as the United States engaging a difficult region, South Asia, it will also face the dilemma of whether to go for realpolitik and real economics of stick to values of democracy. Finally it may opt to balance the three by hyphenating Indo-Chin-Pak. 

More by :  Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle
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