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Remnants of Obama Visit.

NEW DELHI, Nov. 15 -- Barack and Michelle's visit to India was certainly tempestuous and meaningful in nuances. In India, Obama was always vulnerable over the U.S. Af-Pak Policy. He was constantly under pressure to declare Pakistan a rogue state to which he finally succumbed, to a degree, when in the address to the joint session of Parliament, he declared that safe haven for terrorists in Pakistan was unacceptable. To expect more from the visiting President for whom Pakistan is the most important ally in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan is non-judicious. Obama is fully aware of the culpability of the Pakistani State, its army and the intelligence set-up in sustaining and spawning terrorism. The fundamental fault in the American thinking is that it never spoke of the myriad Islamist terrorist groups growing up and operating from the Pakistani soil against India.

The U.S. spoke about Al-Qaeda and Taliban alone and not on the mujahideen outfits targeting India. That was very myopic indeed because, ultimately, at the operating level the jihadis of all hues merge together and make a common cause against 'infidels'. Obama has made some amends now by mentioning Lashkar-e-Taiba in his address to the Indian legislators. It is and must be of some satisfaction to India.

Obama's support to the cause of India's permanent membership of a reformed and expanded UN Security Council is a big leap forward at least at the level of idea. Reformation and expansion of the Security Council are a long gestation affair and going by the immediate reactions of the other aspirants great distances are to be covered before such reformation and expansion take place. Undeniable that Obama's acknowledgement of the stature of India as the fit candidate for the Council is a strong positive stimulus for India. These are the obvious big gains of the Presidential visit. We may not as yet rejoice over it but we have to consolidate these gains and derive mileage.

Pakistan and China are the two crucial factors for India and relationship with the U.S. is to be guided by these two factors. Unhappiness and some demoralization in Pakistan over Obama cariculla in India were starkly obvious. Even without exaggeration Obama's South-Asian trip to India, Indonesia and South Korea skipping Pakistan has a message which has not been lost among the Pakistanis. India and Pakistan are separate entities and the quality of their liaison with the US is different. Pakistan is an unavoidable ally ' though undependable ' and India is a long term strategic partner with the potential of a combined role in the world affairs ' anti-terrorism, trade, commerce, non-proliferation, global financial structure, dispute resolution and strengthening and expansion of democracies across the world.

Imtiaz Ahmed, a Pakistani correspondent reporting from Islamabad, said that Obama not visiting Pakistan is to many Pakistanis a clear indication of America's change in priorities as well as a signal to Pakistan to understand the on-ground realities. Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, former Pakistani Ambassador to India, felt that the Americans could help Pakistan to overcome its obsession with India. With the Pakistani army at the helm of affairs, this obsession will never disappear. As Qazi himself says that 'India is its (Pakistan military's) bread and butter and was in its DNA'. Foreign affairs analyst Dr. Shamin Akhtar hoped that there will be realization in Pakistan that the U.S. does not equate New Delhi and Islamabad together. Journalist Zahid Khan wrote that Obama by skipping Pakistan has given a clear signal that India and Pakistan are now seen in different terms by Washington. Former Ambassador Zafar Hilaly said India 'with its established democracy, rising economic achievements and a huge market will always play a far greater role in the scheme of things'.

Sensible Pakistanis have found these meanings in Obama's visit to India without touching Pakistan and they are airing these too in their media. It will take time, a very long time perhaps for the civil society in Pakistan to grasp this mainly because of Pak army's India-centrism and dedicated resistance to the improvement of Indo-Pak relations. Happy fall-out indeed of the Obama visit to India and a long term strong Indo-US strategy partnership is latent in it. At home, fortunately for India, such a relationship is likely to receive bi-partisan support.

India-China relationship is another vital aspect of a largely undeclared component of India-US global partnership. At present, the U.S. seems a bit trapped mostly by the current financial reality in the Chinese conundrum. Mutual irritants between the two appear to be waxing. Among the few listed by the Washington Post are: Obama giving audience to Dalai Lama, Chinese refusal to condemn North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean worship, China's bellicose posture to the incident involving a Chinese fishing boat and a Japanese patrol ship, nagging differences over mutual trade and suspected Chinese manipulation of its currency.

China, of late, appears to be in a aggressively emboldened state and this itself is cause enough for a general discomfort for the U.S. India has her own immediate and long term problems with China and it is good for the so-called left oriented JNU type pro-China lobby to look at these problems rationally and seriously. The fact is that our armed forces are wary of the Chinese military build-up along the international border. Indian military also believes that the Chinese are furiously working on enhancing its cyber-war capabilities. China has the back up of its superior muscle power to postpone resolution of issues with India, create new issues and indulge in the strategic planning to deny India water, oil and safety of the Indian ocean shipping channels.

India cannot ' nor is it India's policy -- flex muscles to enhance its power of negotiations. Presently, India can at best resist conventional assaults by China in a much more effective manner than it did in 1961. But that is not good enough. India requires international sanction behind its manoeuvres to secure its territory, resources and stature against Chinese intrusions into these areas. The most potent instrument for India in this realm is the United States. Obama's South Asian trip skirting China has lots of meaning. An eagerness to restrain China is evident in it. Obama's visit to India has an invitation to India latent in it to join the U.S. in this long term enterprise. We may seize upon it in terms of our own sovereign will, national interests and honourable resolution of issues with China.

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Publication:Indian Currents
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Nov 15, 2010
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