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Appeasing India has been a US miscalculation


Appeasing India has been a US miscalculation

The usual tirade of Anti-Pakistan venom continues to flow from the sensational Indian media. The latest rhetoric is based upon its chagrin at Washington for not succumbing to Delhi’s blackmail and not accepting its pontificating on Afghanistan.

Dialogue with Pakistan ‘very successful, much broader’: US. WASHINGTON: The US had a ‘successful’ strategic dialogue with Pakistan this week, which characterised a “much different, broader relationship based on mutual interest and respect,” the US State Department said on Friday. “We have gone beyond the security lens that had been and remains a key component, but not just now the only lens through which you can evaluate the US-Pakistani relationship,” State for Public Affairs Assistant Secretary PJ Crowley said. He was speaking a day after the US, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Pakistan, led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, concluded two days of extensive discussions on advancing partnership between the two countries. The civilian component of the strategy is geared towards identifying ways to meet the needs working with Pakistan. ap

A plethora of articles are being published in the jingoistic Bharati (aka Indian) media. There is an article in the Hindustan Times

Feeling the jilt like a thud, the latest rhetoric comes from The Economic Times (of India) which tries to tell Washington that its entire geo-political prognosis, its strategic interests, and its foreign traditional policy is wrong and has been wrong.

Lamenting the fact that Bharat’s blackmail in Afghanistan is has not worked, the pundits in Delhi have unleashed its Anti-American brigade. Delhi tried to use the Russia card by inviting Prime Minister Putin to Delhi–ostensibly to give him a line that the visit would help consolidate Rusia’s attempt on the $10 billion MCRC tender bid.

There is little penchant for Delhi’s whining in international capital. The planet has listened to Delhi for a decade and does not find its world view particularly appealing. It is more like a “little boy crying wolf“—the world does not believe Delhi anymore.

NEW DELHI: As part of the appeasement policy towards Pakistan, the Obama administration, which hopes for action against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, has pledged millions in aid, held out the promise of a civilian nuclear deal, promised to facilitate the transfer of military hardware and assured Pakistan that it is on par with India. There is no doubt that appeasing Pakistan for results in Afghanistan is the top foreign policy priority of US President Barack Obama, who finds little domestic acceptability for a continued US presence in Afghanistan. In a recent Congressional testimony, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the US has made a “strategic priority” to strengthen its partnership with Pakistan and further noted that the efforts towards Pakistan were important to US success in Afghanistan.

The UK, the EU, Turkey, the Arab world, China, and the Islamic block do not buy the Bharati (aka Indian) point of view. The consensus developed at the tripartite conference on Afghanistan between Tehran, Islamabad and Kabul was echoed in Istanbul, then endorsed in Istanbul by all the neighbors, and finally adopted by 62 countries in London. Delhi was ignored in Delhi for a reason. Its view of war and peace was rejected by President Obama, and the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. It was also repudiated in Moscow, Beijing, Riyadh, Istanbul–and last but not the least in Kabul.

But many experts see this as a miscalculation on Washington’s part. “The American will is waning and obviously they are looking for a way to secure an exit (from Afghanistan) and the only way they think they can do that — which is a complete miscalculation — is by somehow trying to win Pakistan over by concession — aid and weapons. It will only be like the past,” said counter-terrorism expert Ajai Sahni.

Pakistan, till now, has shown little commitment towards taking action against the terror infrastructure on its soil. Even the fact that terror groups are now inflicting casualties on its own soil has not stopped Islamabad from persisting in its use of terror as a state policy. New Delhi has constantly pointed out to Washington that action against one small part of the terror infrastructure will yield little results as the groups are all interlinked while even the limited action is viewed with extreme skepticism.

The conspiracy theory behind the arrest of Taliban have been rejected by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Admiral Mullen, General Patreaeus, and all Americans of stature have totally repudiated the Kabul story, yet the Economist repeats nonsense as if it was fact.

But it is not just India that is questioning Pakistan’s motivation. Kai Eide, till recently the UN’s Special Representative to Afghanistan criticised Pakistan for its recent arrest of prominent Taliban leaders especially Taliban No 2 Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar and said that channels of communication that had been opened with the Taliban had been shut down by Pakistan.

Questioning the motivation, Mr Eide said, “The effect of (the arrests), in total, certainly was negative on our possibilities to continue the political process that we saw so necessary at that particular juncture.” “The Pakistanis did not play the role they should have played…. they must have known who they were, what kind of role they were playing, and you see the result today” the former UN envoy said in an interview to the BBC. Even before Mr Eide’s remarks, a top aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the Associated Press that Baradar’s arrest by Pakistan had come after he had agreed to take part in ‘peace jirga’ to be hosted by Mr Karzai next month. Experts see the Pakistani action against the Taliban as an attempt to ensure a central role in the reconciliation process and to checkmate India in Afghanistan. Pakistan watchers also believe that Pakistan knows it has leverage with the US and others only because of the terror infrastructure and that it would unwilling to let go of this leverage that easily.

Delhi cannot fathom the new realities in Kabul. It fails to comprehend that the Obama Administration is sane and does not support the plan to build Bharat as a bulwark against China. It now sees its short-cut to success exploding in its face and cannot fathom the simple fact that the US acts in its own interest and American foreign policy cannot be held hostage to Delhi’s aspirations for world hegemony and superpower status.

For India, the Pakistani attempt to play a greater role in Afghanistan remains worrisome and carries the potential for further instability in the region. The Kabul attacks against Indian nationals — the third attack against India in Afghanistan — showed that India has become a target of Pakistan exported terror in Afghanistan also. But Washington in keeping with its efforts to stay on the right side of Pakistan refused to acknowledge that the attack was targeted at Indians. US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke — whose unpopularity with New Delhi is soaring right now and would not be welcome any time soon here — initially said that the Kabul attack was not targeted against Indians.

Ambassador Richard Holbrooke knows the score and spoke his mind. He has not been declared persona non grata in Delhi. In effect Delhi has cut off ties with Washington’s representative to the region. Then Delhi complains that its opinions are not being entertained. The world has listened to Delhi’s carping–but it not ready to accept everything that Delhi says as the verbatim truth.

He later retracted but the damage had been done.

Another cause of concern is the Obama administration’s eagerness to supply military hardware and weaponry to Pakistan. New Delhi intends to remind Washington yet again about Islamabad’s habit of diverting military equipment for increasing military capabilities against India and will also take up the matter of the US plan to supply F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. US media report that the Obama administration also had agreed to expedite the delivery of F-16 fighter jets, naval frigates and helicopter gunships, as well as new remotely piloted aircraft for surveillance missions.

For Delhi, the inconceivable has happened. After a couple of decades Pakistan has once again asked for and gotten parity with India. Pakistan’s Nuclear status, and its seminal role in bringing peace to Kabul are responsible for Islamabad’s recognition. Pakistan’s Parity with India: Old ghosts haunt Delhi

But it is clear that the US for now wants to give parity to US-India and US-Pakistan ties. A top Obama administration official maintained that India and Pakistan are facing the common threat of terrorism in the region.

“It (terrorism) is a shared threat for Pakistan, it’s a shared threat for India, it’s a shared threat for others. I just would caution that we should not see this in zero-sum terms,” assistant secretary of state for public affairs, PJ Crowley, was quoted as saying. He maintained that the US is building “a deeper relationship” with India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. “This is good for the United States, it’s good for these countries individually, and it’s also good for the region as a whole.”
Appeasing Pakistan likely to be US miscalculation, 28 Mar 2010, 0127 hrs IST, ET Bureau.

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