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United States and India: A Marriage of Desperation

Posted by yourpakistan on November 7, 2010


Dan Qayyum, PKKH

Stone wielding children against slick, modern machine guns and live bullets . Rape. Torture. Military-enforced curfew. Secret, illegal detentions and disappearances. Mass graves. Property demolition. Ethnic cleansing. Humiliation. Intimidation. Using brute force against unarmed protestors. Occupation. You may be mistaken for taking this as a description of Israel’s 62-year long occupation of the Palestinian lands, or a reference to the US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. This, is a description of what Kashmiris have gone through for decades under the despicable and savage 63 year old Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir.

As Obama embarks on his ‘job fair’ visit to India, the parallels between Israel and India, America’s strategic partners in the Middle East and Asia respectively, cannot be more vivid.

Obama refused to condemn the Israelis over the flotilla Massacre earlier this year and continues to ignore the plight of Kashmiris under Indian occupation – 128 of whom have been massacred in the last three months alone, majority of them teenagers and children – as he gets his sales pitch ready for India’s large and US-favouring consumer base. A survey by the Washington-based Pew Global Attitudes Project states that America’s image is the best in India.

“Fully 71% in India express a positive opinion of the United States, compared with 54% three years ago,” the survey says. Favorable opinion of the US in India was higher than any of the countries surveyed, including Canada (where it declined from 72% three years ago to 59%) and the United Kingdom, where it dipped considerably from 75% to 55%.

This is understandable. The US has helped build up India’s BPO outsourcing industry as it looked for cheap overseas labour in recent years. It has turned a blind eye to India’s human rights abuses in Kashmir.

Pakistani military and intelligence establishments believe the US has also allowed India freedom and space in Afghanistan which the latter has used to support insurgencies in Pakistan’s Balochistan region and channel arms and cash to the Pakistani Taliban through drug-lords in Afghanistan. America has enabled India to set up consulates in Afghanistan along Pakistan’s border which help recruit, arm and train terrorists who are then allowed to cross the border into Pakistan and strike both military and civilian targets.

Even more telling is how the US swallowed India’s version of the Mumbai attacks hook line and sinker, even while the siege of the Taj was still ongoing. Setting aside the fact that the entire Indian case against Pakistan rests on the (often contradictory) statements of two extremely dodgy individuals – David Coleman Headley and Ajmal Kassab who have both flip-flopped and changed their statements more frequently than actors change outfits in an Bollywood dance routine – the ‘evidences’ provided by the Indian authorities, a collection of used detergent boxes and empty milk cartons, were seemingly enough to convince the Americans of Pakistani involvement. Despite initial statements rejecting the ‘evidence’ as being insufficient by Interpol, the rest of the world media soon followed suit.

In trying to woo the Indian bride, Obama has his reasons ofcourse.

The US economy is in the toilet. What difference does it make if 66 million Indians defecate under the open sky? Or if the human development indices place India behind Bangladesh and Pakistan? What difference does it make if the Indian treatment of women and minorities is sub-human, and if there are more malnourished children in India than the entire African continent? Bollywood movies show India as a shiny, rosy land with rainbows, luxury apartments and expensive cars. If India decides to spend billions in purchasing military hardware instead of eliminating chronic poverty and providing basic amenities to its citizens, US suppliers ofcourse will line up. It may even bump up the failing US economy and create jobs back home.

But this is only part of why Obama is down on one knee in India this weekend.

As US influence beyond its borders wanes after the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, China’s economic and military rise continues to be a fascinating success story. While Americans were picking up their dead in the deserts and mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan, China has quietly increased its influence from South Asia and Afghanistan to as far as Africa and Brazil, as it aspires to a more prominent global political status. That in turn has pushed an already paranoid America to look for a new slave-soldier in China’s immediate neighbourhood.

As it has done with Israel vis-à-vis the Arab states, the US now looks towards India as a counterweight to China in a last ditch attempt to muscle in and stay relevant in this part of the world.

Indians have their reasons too for jumping into bed with the US.

Aside from India’s pursuit of a permanent seat in the UNSC, India wants a share of the Afghan pie. It sees Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan and its sway over the Afghan Taliban as a threat to its own security. Indian strategists and analysts fear that the imminent Taliban victory in Afghanistan will turn Pakistan’s focus back to the freedom struggle in Kashmir – a cause that majority of Pakistanis support on moral and religious grounds.

On the other hand Indian military planners and prominent analysts such as B Raman and Bharat Verma have long had wet dreams of splitting Pakistan up into smaller independent states that would cease to be a threat and in fact be subservient to the larger and more powerful neighbour in New Delhi. It is a throwback to the days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when the Russians sought Indian expertise to try and dismember Pakistan’s Balochistan region by cultivating insurgent groups such as the Baloch Liberation Army.

This is just one of the many Soviet blunders the US has repeated.

With an emerging China and an embarrassing defeat on the horizon in Afghanistan, India – awash with insurgencies, chronic poverty, corruption and its myriad of social political issues – is America’s last lifeline in South Asia. America on the other hand, is India’s only hope in Afghanistan, and ultimately, at establishing its own place in this region.

Dan Qayyum is the editor of the online news-service PKKH.tv, an Analyst for Af-Pak and South Asian affairs for Karachi based defence journal Fortress, and a contributor to the Islamabad based magazine ‘Sabz Hilali’

 

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