Indo - Us ties aiming at new flourishing heights


This is personal diplomacy at its best, despite the exercise being carried out amidst milling crowds. The US needs India and vice versa and there is no getting away from the need for the foremost political leaders of the US and India to meet, greet and fete each other in the name of the interests they share.

These shared interests have grown over the past few years and are notably wide-ranging, so much so there is no escaping the grand spectacles, such as the present one, the Indian state has brought into being to receive US President Donald Trump. The US did the same a couple of years back when Premier Modi visited the US.

It was left for Indian Prime Minister Modi to articulate the core significance of Trump’s present visit to India. ‘India-US relations are no longer just another partnership. It is a far greater and closer relationship’, Modi was quoted saying while felicitating the US President, amid a roar of approval by a more than 500,000 strong Indian audience. It needs to be recollected that former US President Barrack Obama during a visit to India in 2010 referred to India as ‘an indispensable partner’ and not merely an ‘ally’.

There is no doubt that India and the US are prioritizing bilateral trade and shared economic interests as areas where they need to cooperate in a major way, given the fact that protectionist restrictions are being observed to a greater or lesser extent by both countries, but of equal significance to both states is the management of regional political tensions and security concerns. Developments in Afghanistan in particular are of enhanced salience in the latter connection.

At the time of writing, an agreement between the US and the Taliban to ‘reduce’ military tensions in Afghanistan seems to be holding but Afghanistan needs the continued cooperation of regional and extra-regional states to perpetuate this spell of calm. From this viewpoint, an understanding between the US and India to cooperate in de-escalating tensions in Afghanistan could be vital.

There is a shared interest between the US and India to contain ‘terror’ in the region and internationally and there is no doubt that Afghanistan would benefit from Indo-US cooperation in this endeavour in the security sphere. Besides cooperating with each other in this area of bringing peace to Afghanistan they would need to enlist the support of Afghanistan’s neighbouring states in this effort since almost all of Afghanistan’s neighbours seek to influence political and security-related developments in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is on record as stating that no terror organizations would be permitted to base themselves in Pakistan and such good will would need to be utilized by those actors showing keenness in bringing peace to Afghanistan. An international conference on establishing peace in Afghanistan would not prove a superfluous exercise at this juncture. Hopefully, these requirements would be addressed by the US President and the Indian Prime Minister during their current talks.

Pakistan would need to be ‘kept in the loop’ by those international actors seeking a peaceful and permanent political settlement in Afghanistan. However, this cannot be achieved if Indo-Pakistan ties continue to be wrought by tensions. Accordingly, the two regional giants should seriously seek a complete normalization in their relations.

Likewise, the US would need to work cooperatively with Pakistan if these security aims are to be met. This requirement needs special mention because over the past few years, US-Pakistan ties have showed signs of impairment. If regional peace is to be sought in earnest, Pakistan should, once again, enjoy the status of a close ally of the US in South Asia.

It would serve Afghanistan’s vital concerns for the US to effect a complete troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and this cannot happen unless all relevant internal and external actors feature in a united effort at bringing peace to Afghanistan. Hence the need for cooperation among the US, India and Pakistan in particular in this connection.

However, it should be understood by all concerned that enduring peace and stability in South Asia cannot stem entirely from law and order strengthening exercises. Enduring peace in the South’s conflict and war zones could stem only from the fostering of democratic institutions and values and India and the US should have no difficulty in identifying with this cause since they are among the world’s most vibrant democracies.

While common economic concerns could be expected to bring the US and India together as never before, the extra warming of US-India bilateral ties cannot be divorced from current inter-state power play in our part of the world. More specifically, both the US and India have a common interest in paring down the power and influence of China in the South. This could explain in part the excessive exuberance and verve with which the political leadership of both countries go about strengthening bilateral ties. At the moment, the need is great for these major powers to stick together.

However, ‘geopolitics’, although important, cannot dwarf bilateral economic relations. The perception is strong on the part of both states that both countries are awash with economic opportunities that need to be exploited. For example, the consumer bases for each others goods, services and investments are vast in both countries. It will stand both countries in good stead to maintain excellent bilateral ties. Inter-country trade issues may not be allowed to stand in the way for long by both states in view of these blooming economic opportunities.

It is yet to be seen whether the US would earnestly work towards enabling India to be inducted into the UN Security Council. In the Obama years the world was given to understand that this was a foreign policy focus of the US. It is not clear whether the US is working hard towards this aim. However, if the US is having its sights on tilting the global power balance strongly in its favour, it will forge ahead towards the said aim. After all, the US has come to see India as a natural ally given their official commitment to democratic values.

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