Pakistan, India and the United States

November 9, 2009

 

While attention has almost entirely been focused on America’s difficult relationship with Pakistan – a writer in Foreign Policy magazine called it the world’s most dysfunctional relationship – India and the United States have quietly gone ahead and completed the largest military exercise ever undertaken by New Delhi with a foreign army.

The exercise named Yudh Abyhas 2009 (or practice for war)  and conducted in northern India involved tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and helicopter-borne infantry. The U.S. army deployed 17 Strykers,  its eight-wheeled armoured vehicle, in the largest deployment of the newest vehicle outside of Iraq and Afghanistan for Pacific Rim forces, the military said.

“This exercise indeed is a landmark. For the Indian Army, this is the biggest we have done with any foreign army,” Indian army director general of military operations, Lt. Gen. A.S. Sekhon said.

Since they began exercising together over the past decade after being on opposite sides of the Cold War, India and the United States have steadily advanced their military relationship. As the two big powers in the Indian Ocean, they  have had steadily complex naval exercises and this year, for added measure, brought in the Japanese navy too in a three-way exercise, a move which must not have been lost on the Chinese.

Indeed, as Robert Haddick, who edits the Small Wars Journal, writes in his column at Foreign Policy that the one defence relationship  in Asia that is progressing well for the United States is that involving India. It’s not trouble-free especially with a prickly power such as India, but it stands out compared with the troubled security relationships the United States has with Pakistan and China, the author notes.

U.S. military engagement with China remains a work in progress. As Admiral Timothy Keating, the former military commander for the U.S. Pacific Command told the Financial Times in an interview last month he didn’t have direct phone contacts for his counterparts in the People’s Liberation Army, increasing the potential for misunderstanding.

“I don’t have their [senior Chinese military officials'] phone number. I can’t pick up the phone and wish them happy birthday. I don’t mean to be glib about it . . . [But] we don’t enjoy the sort of communication that I have with almost every other military leader in Asia,” he said.

And what of Pakistan ? As noted in this blog, before only 16 percent of Pakistanis surveyed have a favorable view of the United States and 13 percent have confidence in President Barack Obama, according to the Pew Research Center.

Such a deep distrust and rage  severely complicates the relationship,  and often blinds Pakistan at its own loss, a Toronto-based analyst Sadiq Saleem writes. He says the visceral opposition to the U.S. aid bill was a case in point.

“Pakistanis as a nation are riled up en masse over the supposed ‘loss of sovereignty’ over the fact that our ally of 55 years decided to give us unconditional economic aid – in addition to conditional military aid.  At $1.5 billion per year the Enhanced Partnership for Pakistan Act 2009 would make Pakistan the single largest recipient of US government development aid in the world – greater than the Israel economic aid package.”

But a combination of politicians and journalists have called the aid as anti-Pakistan because of the conditions attached to it. The big worry, according to Saleem, is that at some point Washington may get tired of dealing with a difficult partner.

“If our anti-Americanism continues the day might come when the Americans do not see the value of their Pakistani relationship. I, and anyone else who points this out, is not an American agent but a voice of sanity in an environment of anger and hate,” he says.

Will America turn to India, where it still enjoys support and admiration among ordinary people even more than government leaders ? 

[Reuters picture of the exercise, and below a U.S. military release of the exercise]

Comments

Mr Mortal,
Unfortunately no.I never had the need to go to USA to make an application.I won’t come in your way if you want to massage them though? – Posted by Vijay

No sir, I believe in freedom of speech & won’t be messaging anyone. It’s just that I have detected a consistent overkill of anti-Americanism in your comments, so I was just wondering, that’s all!

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

@Vijay, Keith, you guys seem to be defense policy analysts for your respective countries. It’s great to see a diverging point of view and a lot of intelligent, thought provoking propositions, but you guys seem to be deviating from the this blog.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

GW,

I take great offence to you grouping me in with Vijay. He’s no defence analyst. As a recent practitioner of that trade I can tell who is and who isn’t. Heck, he doesn’t seem to know the difference between capital and research budgets. In my time, I have met Indian defence analysts and none of them put forward such ridiculous anti-American screed as what we’ve seen from Vijay here.

He’s gone from discussing the merits of various US-India relations (the topic of this article) to some bizarre focus on Nehruvian philosophy which even he can’t quite seem to elucidate clearly. And then goes on talk to about the rise of the BNP and EDL in the UK. What does that have to with US-India-Pakistan relations?

I submit to you, that this gentleman is no different than a rather excitable Pakistani fellow we’ve encountered here lately.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

Mr Mortal,

The issue was never about USA. Infact i have great respect for that country especially Presidents like Abraham Lincoln who thought ” All men created are equal & Government should be about ” Of the people, for the people & by the people”.

The distorted application of these principles by USA is what causes me anguish when within their power they can do it advancing these causes.Also it is USA which has armed countries to the teeth,perpetuated the protection of thugs.The selective application of US citizens life is superior to others makes me very disgusting.It reminds me of what Churchill spoke ” That a half naked fakir can’t parley as equal to them”.When i referred BNP i made this point they want to be freed from the clutches of US policy while we seem to cling to them lately.

I am sure loving India is not a crime though we all have these struggles to overcome infirmities of Human Nature which is Fear & Hatred.I am more secure if we push to goals on self reliance than to depend on others.

Sticking to the point of this note where the Author asks this question “Will America turn to India, where it still enjoys support and admiration among ordinary people even more than government leaders”.

The answer to me is NO.Our history has taught us to not side with any Imperialist, and to give a foreign policy which is independant & not to give a perception we are aligned but non aligned.Anyway i gently disagree with Keith when he says you should not increase your research budget but rather use it for recurring defense.I saw in 98 after the sanctions when vajpayee announced the 28000kms national highway creation which revitalized every indian industry and increased comforts for ordinary men.Similarly when you increase your research outlay there is a new breed of generation which sprouts not to work as glorified clerks but to amass required skills for a new age.Building is more pleasurable than destroying or buying. From what i see around people who lean on crutches of foreign powers have not had a easy time.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive
 

Vijay,

Vajpayee spending to building roads was a wise decision. But what did the road construction policy have to do with the sanctions or defence? That was work that was planned. By that token, any and all government projects undertaken inside the country should be considered beneficial.

What you are advocating for is a ‘Buy India’ policy. It’s no different than the current ‘Buy America’ policy that’s being pushed in the US and is a global headache. The last time that policy came into fashion globally, it led to the Great Depression as global trade came to a halt. Is that what you want?

Keep in mind that a ‘Buy India’ policy, even on defence procurement will lead to trade retaliation from India’s trade partners. All those BPO and software jobs will be repatriated to the West, the moment India decides it does not want to trade anymore.

And your thinking would be hypocritical, given India’s opposition to ‘Buy America’ as well. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t demand that the US open its market and advocate for India to close its own. The ultimate loser in this policy would be the average Indian you claim to want to help. That average Indian has been one of the biggest beneficiary of global trade in the world. That can all easily change if ideas like yours become popular.

There’s a reason Nehruvian self-sufficiency went out of vogue in the 80s and 90s. After 40 years, look where it left India. Even the Communists in China have understood the need to trade. And they do it for their strategic industries as well.

Keep in mind that this time around, Boeing is not just selling aircraft to India. All those big US defence contractors are setting up plants in India. They are employing Indians, training them and using Indian management. There is no way the US would have allowed that, if it foresaw the need to have flexibility on its India policy. It’s a huge deal, that I don’t think you fully understand the ramifications of. And you are advocating going back on it, for some vague Nehruvian feel good sentiment.

Finally, I think you still don’t understand the difference between industrial development and research. Scientific research is the kind that occurs in a lab. Pumping out PhDs is not going to really create jobs. Industrial development is where the government employs policy to develop specific sectors of the economy (usually in conjunction with private enterprise). That’s what creates jobs and expertise. Increasing your research budget won’t do much if you don’t have the industrial based to absorb all that innovation. That’s what makes the US powerful. PhDs have companies willing to develop their ideas. And there’s capital available from the market or government that help innovators bring ideas to fruition. All that is development. If you increase your research budget without building a framework to make use of that output, all you’re going to do is pump out PhDs.

This is exactly what India has been doing for the last 50 years. And the world thanks you for it. We are extremely grateful that you spend money on training great doctors, engineers and scientists to export to us. We are grateful that you don’t actually build successful industrial frameworks and policies to employ these people.

And I guess I shouldn’t really complain if you don’t understand the difference between research and development. After all, that’ll just mean more unemployed Indian PhDs to migrate to Canada! So yeah, I say go for it. Increase your research budget ten fold. And then send us all your post-graduates.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

The distorted application of these principles by USA is what causes me anguish when within their power they can do it advancing these causes.Also it is USA which has armed countries to the teeth,perpetuated the protection of thugs.The selective application of US citizens life is superior to others makes me very disgusting.It reminds me of what Churchill spoke ” That a half naked fakir can’t parley as equal to them”.When i referred BNP i made this point they want to be freed from the clutches of US policy while we seem to cling to them lately.
-posted by Vijay

That the US values the lives of its citizens is what makes the country worthwhile. It is up to India to do the same. Don’t criticize the Americans for watching out for their citizens, their interests and defending them, just because India can’t or won’t do the same. That’s just sour grapes. There is nothing stopping India from doing the same, except of course, Indians.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

mr ganesh parsad,
I liked your commentry and really hope that things would follow the course you outlined. Equally, I am afraid that the events may not follow the logical line. My thinking is always different, I analyse current events and look into the past history and come to a different prognosis. Let me mention some of my thoughts as a nourishment for your views:
. the occupation of kashmir by the indian military was accidental. Both political parties in India should have cleared the accession of the states more precisely when they had already agreed with the colonial administration about giving a separate home to the muslim population.
. India with its oldest civilisation and multi cultured society with their traditions, customs and values is unique and second to none in the world. You do not have to refer to a religious book to guide the society in the right direction.
.India closest neighbour, rightly or otherwise has taken the position of undoing the occupation of Kashmir and has even lost its east pakistan wing.
. Two persons were born in an Indian village, both of them studied nuclear science and were able to developec atomic weaponry for India and Pakistan. The Indian Govt. made their scientist as the President of India, whereas the Pakistan military put their heroe in house arrest.
. All invaders into India came with theirc warriors from the north, with the exception of Brits. who came in merchant ships. The invaders from the north did not come to India to conquer the land but with the intention of destroying the wealth and culture of the land which was seen as unique but foreign.
. The nuclear weaponry and the sophistited delivery systems currently in India and Pakistan are not meant to be deterrants. Their use by any of the protogonista is for first strike and as a last resource. In such an event would cause not only casualties of the civilians but contaminate a large chunk of fertile land. I am sure this senario has been looked at in both countries.
. Pakistan intrusion ointo the Pushtoon and waziri land in order to suppress them is an adventure and is unlikely to succeed. These people have never been defeated by foreigners in living and non living memory. They have defeated the soviets, the americans and the nato armies in their territory on afghan side of the border. They are currently receiving cash payments from USA and the Nato armies who are allowed a limited space for their helicopters and aeroplanes. The skirmishes occur when the armies carry out reconisence missions without any payment. Mr Gates believes that more boots on ground would get them more space in the land. Mtr obama knows that more boots would cause more casualties.
. This unrest and destabilisation of the region is not in the interest of all nations.
. My prognosis tells me that the western civilisation is going to see setbacks over the next century(not 10 to 15 years)and the asian nations including India and China are likely to emerge as the greatest powers in the world. Equally I see that the Pushtoons who in total are more than sixty million will have no option but to spread their civilisation and I mean civilisation across the subcontinent. They have never been left alone even for a century.
. The foregoing could occur without war and violence but could be bloody and the history could record the repeat of world war two. The leaders of the people will decide the course!!

Have a nice evening!
.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive
 

uthor/moderator: Could you please be kind to let this go through?
Thanks in advance,
rajeev

Keith:
@You seem to misunderstand what the Clinton option was. There is a lot that the US can do to make life difficult for Pakistan even if the Chinese protect them at the UN Security Council.
-posted by Keith

Keith: I am aware that Clinton option is much more than just US influence in UNSC. You would have seen Indians talking about US using its powers to take care of Pakistan—that’s what they mean since we know that US can take care of Pakistan which is becoming a genuine and increasing headache. K-L bill is the first step for tightening the leash—but a useful one for everyone including Pakistan.
My point was that the rise of China has placed them in an increasingly powerful position from where China can influence US— not just as Permanent security member. Pakistan is just part of India’s concerns—the other one is China itself. Obama’s China visit indicates a lot how US puts China and some useless decibels by Obama to please China, such as China’s role in India-Pak relationship—knowing very well India is averse to 3rd party. He should be smart enough to know that China is the most unfit country to do the job given that China itself has problems with India and is using Pakistan is China’s proxy. Definitely India is going to get uncomfortable at this but that’s their game and India has to watch out for its own butt and tread carefully, but positively. China-US axis will blunt any Clinton option.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Rajeev,

My original point was that the Clinton option is on the table to deal with Pakistan, post-Afghanistan. At that point, with no US troops in the region, Pakistan’s instability and terrorist sympathizing institutions could become a threat not just to US interests but US national security itself. In this case, the Clinton option will seem mighty tempting. After all, what does the US have to loose? It’s not like Pakistanis love the US anyway.

Living in the West, I just don’t get the sense that there’s a China-US axis. For all the talk and bonhomie during state visits, it’s quite clear there’s a lot of tension beneath the surface between China and the US. And I would argue that over an issue as important as terrorism and its impact on US national security, there is no way the US would give in to China. The biggest stick of the Clinton option is US policy itself, which China has zero control over. Should the US declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, and ban companies from trading with Pakistan, there is nothing China can do about it, since the laws are US laws, enforceable only in the US (though of course, every multi-national does business in the US, hence the strong impact of such laws). There is really no leverage for China should the US decide to get really aggressive with Pakistan. Are they going to risk economic war with the US, over Pakistan? I doubt it. They haven’t even defended Pakistan when it’s had conflict with India. Would they really going to bat for Pakistan, against the US? I doubt it.

Aside from that,

The US-India relationship is a separate issue. One of the biggest complaints western diplomats have is that Indian diplomats always want to talk about Pakistan. It is good that India is slowly moving away from that. Pakistan has become more of an annoyance than a paramount strategic threat. And India’s confidence with regards to its Pakistan policy is showing. And this is what has allowed relations to progress. Today, India does not make relations conditional on talking about Pakistan. India should be careful (and for the most part it has) that Indian diplomacy doesn’t go back to old ways except with China substituted for Pakistan.

The US is not going to fix Pakistan for India’s sake. It will do so only if its in the interest of the US. This is not a slight to India. The US has had disagreements with all its allies. That’s just how it is.

But the US is trying very hard to improve relations with India. It has been recognized in the US India could be a natural partner. And there is recognition of this in both major parties (though Democrats remain weary of India’s nuclear record). There has been a sea change in the attitude of even the average American towards India, in no small measure because of the hard working Indian diaspora who’ve become textbook immigrant success stories (Americans love that stuff). One would hope India recognizes the change of heart and accepts the hand of friendship being extended here.

Nursing past wounds of the relationship or lingering in mistrust, as proposed by some, like Vijay here, will only do damage to India’s interests at this stage.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

@The US is not going to fix Pakistan for India’s sake. It will do so only if its in the interest of the US. This is not a slight to India. The US has had disagreements with all its allies. That’s just how it is.
…..
“Living in the West, I just don’t get the sense that there’s a China-US axis. For all the talk and bonhomie during state visits, it’s quite clear there’s a lot of tension beneath the surface between China and the US.”
-Keith

Keith:
I can see first hand how hard it is for difficult to get the job done from Pakistan by US in its own interests. So it is understandable it becomes harder to ask favors for your friends unless the interests overlap. No denying that. Terrorism that India faces falls in this category. Interests seems to overlap lately.

@The US-India relationship is a separate issue. One of the biggest complaints western diplomats have is that Indian diplomats always want to talk about Pakistan. It is good that India is slowly moving away from that. Pakistan has become more of an annoyance than a paramount strategic threat.”

–I can see that. Much of my anxiety arises from soft Indian diplomacy. For India’s size, rise and aspirations and the complex relationships–regional and elsewhere—India needs increase in quality and quantity of its manpower–diplomats etc who efficiently and positively do their job. I don;t want to see them complaining and giving excuses for their lack of insight.

@Democrats/India: Obama is new and let us see how US-India relationship grows under his admn—time will tell. Bush was a hit though–many things happened.

@But the US is trying very hard to improve relations with India. It has been recognized in the US India could be a natural partner. And there is recognition of this in both major parties (though Democrats remain weary of India’s nuclear record). There has been a sea change in the attitude of even the average American towards India, in no small measure because of the hard working Indian diaspora who’ve become textbook immigrant success stories (Americans love that stuff). One would hope India recognizes the change of heart and accepts the hand of friendship being extended here.

-I live in US–5 hrs drive from Toronto–for a decade and agree with what you said and recognize that. I think America is viewed quite positively in India. To me Indian market and democratic system are huge plus for US to interact with India.

I hope this post gets uploaded–takes several attempts recently.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

I can see that. Much of my anxiety arises from soft Indian diplomacy. For India’s size, rise and aspirations and the complex relationships–regional and elsewhere—India needs increase in quality and quantity of its manpower–diplomats etc who efficiently and positively do their job. I don;t want to see them complaining and giving excuses for their lack of insight.

There are two kinds of Indian diplomats. The young guy who’s educated, has exposure to the West and works hard. And the old guy, who’s basically stuck with the Cold War anti-Imperialist, Nehruvian mentality. What’s holding India back is for every young guy the Indian diplomatic corps has, they’ve got 2 or 3 of the older type. And India has far too few diplomats for a country of its size and stature. Last I heard it was somewhere around a thousand or so. The US probably has more than that many staffers at the State department headquarters building alone.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

@And India has far too few diplomats for a country of its size and stature. Last I heard it was somewhere around a thousand or so. The US probably has more than that many staffers at the State department headquarters building alone.
- Posted by Keith

–On India, I agree without doubt.
US did not do enough home work in Af/Pak case. Very clearly, it is learning on the job. US left 1989 and stopped studying Pushto/Dari and the culture as if there is no coming back here. So the Army of Diplomats and agents were not up on the task here.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

US did not do enough home work in Af/Pak case. Very clearly, it is learning on the job. US left 1989 and stopped studying Pushto/Dari and the culture as if there is no coming back here. So the Army of Diplomats and agents were not up on the task here.
- Posted by rajeev

Keep in mind, there’s a big difference between the diplomats doing their job and their masters following their advice. I don’t think its right to slight the diplomats here. American diplomats (several of whom I’ve met), senior military officers, aid workers, etc. did have a decent understanding of the region. And they did convey the complexity of the problems in the region to their masters.

However, governments are not duty bound to take the advice of their servants. If the politicians decide not to listen to their civil servants that’s their choice. And arguably on Afghanistan, the administration in power at the time chose to disregard much of what it was being told by their military staff, aid workers, diplomats, intelligence analysts, etc. That does not mean these people didn’t do their job.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

@ And arguably on Afghanistan, the administration in power at the time chose to disregard much of what it was being told by their military staff, aid workers, diplomats, intelligence analysts, etc. That does not mean these people didn’t do their job.
- Posted by Keith

@I don’t think its right to slight the diplomats here.”
–No way I am slighting any one. My reading of people who know the region and are from the region and in touch with the American govt. allows me to say so. Admn will listen to all the happenings in the region but will do nothing about it, despite these guys pleading with the admn.

Main point is US did not think Afghanistan is that important or will become this important.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Keith:

Somehow my post is not being uploaded. I am skipping any details—(URLs etc) supporting the IBC figures below that were informative but perhaps are coming in way of uploading. Will upload them later if possible. Will try to say this:

@ Let us say that genocide is an inappropriate word, but “strategic error” is the wrong choice of word either. I think Iraqi victims deserve special treatment—not just considered collateral damage of a war that should not have taken place.

“Strategic error” is also a good word if you are thinking from US POV and that US went to Iraq instead of staying put and strengthening themselves in Afgh.
The number of Iraqis died is 655,000 according to “Lancet” –a controversial figure but no one can prove it wrong—Republicans and its media cried a lot but they have not scientific evidence to refute that figure (I always thought that such a big figure was propaganda but I zoomed in and found otherwise. Still, I wish that # is an overestimate (it is not body count obviously but an estimation and I think that this is an overestimate). But there is another study by the Iraqi government and the World Health Organization (WHO) published in The New England Journal of Medicine that reports 104,000 and 223,000 Iraqis died violent deaths between the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and June 2006. Still a lots of death, ignoring Lancet study.

This cannot be called just another war or Indians operations in Kashmir and SL or now anti-LTTE by SL etc…. There was lot at stake for each one but nothing for US in Iraq as far as the basis of the war is concerned.

If this does not fall in the UN definition of “genocide” then clearly UN definition needs to be expanded or a better word is required. I can go in detail on this since it falls in gray area of genocide or not—depends. But I know this: Dead Iraqis deserve more than being called collateral damage.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Keith:

With respect to our discussion on the relationship between India, China and USA, here are some useful links.

Altered Fundamentals
“Despite honour of the first state visit, India is peripheral to the US strategy, as demonstrated by the recent U.S.-China Joint Statement that has only accentuated Indian anxieties”
Ashley J. Tellis
http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx  ?262966

“Forget China, the real threat is ‘Chinusa’
Shobhan Saxena

http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com  /Main-Street/entry/forget-china-the-rea l-threat

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

USA never sincere Pakistan its a real history
http://www.adylimo.com/

Posted by kashifsharjeel | Report as abusive
 

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