Friday, November 27, 2009

The Next Step Forward

The vibe emanating from Washington DC over the past couple of days has been one of a shared world perception in relation to the world’s largest democracy. While addressing guests at the White House on Tuesday along with visiting Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, US President Barack Obama pointed to the future when India would play a ‘‘pivotal role’’ in Asia, with the US-India ties taking such a shape as to be the ‘‘defining partnership’’ of the 21st century. He also admitted, though not explicitly, the US’ blunders in Pakistan in the past: ‘‘There were probably times when we were just focused on the (Pakistani) military... instead of (engaging its) civil society.’’ The following days would witness both Obama and Dr Singh explore a gamut of issues and possibilities that the two democracies could use to further the cause of a new world order. As a joint statement said, the two leaders ‘‘reiterated their intention to realize the full potential of the India-US agreement for cooperation concerning the peaceful use of nuclear energy through the implementation of its provisions’’, while at the same time vowing to continue pursuing mutually beneficial defence cooperation through the existing security dialogue, service-level exchanges, defence exercises, trade, and technology transfer and collaboration. The statement said that they had recognized the scope for cooperation in the areas of non-traditional threats to security, peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster relief, and maritime security and protecting the sea lanes of communication. On Wednesday, addressing the Indian American community at a reception hosted by the Indian Ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar, Dr Singh harped on the ‘‘five Es’’ that would be emphasized to provide a new direction to India-US relations — economy, energy, environment, education and empowerment — even as the two countries ‘‘further strengthen their ties in defence, security and counter-terrorism’’.

However, all of the above will be meaningful only when the US shuns the long-practised double standard in international politics, and nearer home, most decisively, only when it asks Islamabad to mend its treacherous ways in dealing with and responding to New Delhi’s concern over Pakistan’s new status — the epicentre of jihadi super-terrorism. If Obama wants to script a new world narrative, with India poised to play a role no less than China’s in Asia and the rest of the world, he cannot afford to vacillate. The US wields direct  influence over Pakistan, its ally in the so-called war on terror, and therefore, Obama has the mandate to even directly address the Pakistan Army’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and ask it to correct its terror course or face the music, the jihad enterprise in Pakistan being a grandiose ISI project to bleed India by a million cuts. The crux of the matter is that India-US relations are not dynamics in isolation, but rather part of an intriguing matrix comprising Pakistan and its use of terror as an instrument of state policy. What use are India-US relations if the US does nothing about Pakistan’s diversion of US aid to concretize its anti-India infrastructure, both the military and jihad arrangement? Let Washington realize this first. THE SENTINEL

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