Nuances of US policy towards India and Pakistan

Tom Plate cites a recent hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as an example of the ‘nuances and ambiguities of American policy’ on India and Pakistan. He contends that while the US is favourably disposed towards India, it has to treat India unfairly so that Pakistan sees it as a neutral arbitrator. This means looking the other way when Musharraf himself is obviously a suspect in Pakistan’s nuclear shenanigans and while innocent Indians fall victim to terrorist bullets and bombs. All this only on the face of verbal committments made by a serial serial promise breaker.

Even if we leave aside an expectation of a ‘fair’ policy, the US is living in a wonderland if it thinks that Musharraf’s verbal assurances are enough to guarantee Pakistan’s better behaviour. Without institutional reform and safeguards on its nuclear weapons, on its military and on its education system, Pakistan is bound to return as tomorrow’s problem. Who knows, someone like General (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg may become President next year and revive his strategic defiance doctrine. To convince him of being a neutral arbiter, the US will probably have to send 101st Airborne to Srinagar and deliver Kashmir to Pakistan.

The US needs a stable, long-term ally in Asia, as much as India needs a strong partnership with America to further develop its economy. If the US goes too far in this unfairness business, the Indian voter may decide to elect an anti-American party. The US needs to be careful and avoid this mutually undesirable outcome.

Related Link: Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes about India’s perception of the US, in Foreign Policy