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United States sidelines India


The Manmohan Singh government had been extremely euphoric about its special strategic relationship with the United States especially after the signing of an exceptional bilateral nuclear deal for peaceful energy purposes. The government of India had come to believe that President Barack Obama would continue the special treatment which India had received from George Bush II. But the bubble burst and Indian foreign policymakers received a great shock when President Obama drastically shifted his South Asian strategic concerns by focusing attention on the positive role of Pakistan in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

President Obama has revived the history of the last 60 years and re-established special relationship with Pakistan, a country which always stood for the US during the Cold War period and is now fighting as a military ally against the Taliban. Obama has recognised the significance of Pakistan as a dependable military ally. Also, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton articulated a policy shift towards Pakistan in her high-profile meeting with Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on March 25 and 26 at the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue meet held in Washington. She observed: “Pakistan is close to my heart, Pakistan’s struggles are my struggles and I am committed to the success of this dialogue.”

Ms Clinton opened the US coffers and military arsenal to prompt Pakistan to aid the US’ war in Afghanistan. The US has clearly stated that “we have a war and we need them (Pakistan)”. It has been decided that the US will supply arms to Pakistan. The US arming of Pakistan has always been of great concern to India because in the inimitable description of the late V K Krishna Menon “there is no gun or a tank which can fire only on one side” as decided by the donor of military aid.

The strategic importance of Pakistan in the war in Afghanistan has been publicly recognised by the US by inviting the man in uniform, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, as an important member of the delegation led by the Pakistan foreign minister for the strategic dialogue. General Kayani’s presence in the US along with the Pakistani delegation gives a clear signal to South Asian governments that Pakistan is a military ally of the US and it is the army which matters in Pakistan.

President Obama by publicly aligning with the Pakistan army is clearly following a tradition of his predecessors who had patronised army dictators like Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf. Also, the Americans know that in a farcical democracy comprising Asif Ali Zardari of PPP and Nawaz Sharif of PML-N, General Kayani is the real centre of power. If the US needs Pakistan’s assistance in the war against Taliban, the Pakistanis are also keen to extract their pound of flesh from the US.

There has to be a quid pro quo between the US and Pakistan if the Americans expect Pakistan to act as their proxy in war. It should be noted that Taliban or Al-Queda in Afghanistan are not the enemies of Pakistan. Pakistan has its own strategic agenda and in the pursuit of its own national interests in Afghanistan, Pakistan cannot accept the presence of Indians on Afghan soil. Has the US assured Pakistan that it would restrain India from its active engagement in Afghanistan?

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Comments–Analysis/articleshow/5824050.cms

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