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Posted at: Jan 4, 2018, 12:38 AM; last updated: Jan 4, 2018, 12:38 AM (IST)

US has its interests, we have ours

Arun Joshi
India should not rely on the changed narrative of the US towards Pakistan. It may help India infuse substance to its charges of terror against Pakistan. The stark reality, however, is that America is placing its interests ahead.
US has its interests, we have ours
America has avoided siding with India on Kashmir. FILE PHOTO

Arun Joshi

Washington DC has accused Islamabad of playing a “double game” and having given nothing to America except “lies and deceit” in return for its liberal aid for to enable it to fight terrorists in Afghanistan. US President Donald Trump is known for his impulsive tweets, but his tweet on New Year was not only accusatory of Pakistan but also underlined his frustration with it for its failure to play a sincere game in uprooting terrorists and their patrons from Afghanistan. 

The US has its own disappointments in Afghanistan where it has miserably failed to score a decisive victory against the terrorists who have challenged its global standing, militarily and economically. The 9/11 terror attack was more than a mere attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It exposed the vulnerability of the US. 

That the agents of terror were trained and motivated by Al-Qaeda, headquartered in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule, and could hit the American symbols of its global power was too much to digest for the superpower. Americans knew about Pakistan's role in creating Taliban that ruled Afghanistan, and that Al-Qaeda could not have operated there without the patronage of Pakistan's deep state (ISI and the army). 

The American anger against Pakistan, which has now manifested with the suspension of $255 million aid and threat to do more in the next couple of days, is too little, too late. But there is hardly any reason for India to celebrate it. 

India views Pakistan with suspicion, perhaps more than the Trump administration does. Pakistan has been bleeding India in Kashmir. Rawalpindi has made Kashmir a springboard for its attacks on the Indian military and symbols of its democracy and economic prowess. 

Almost daily, a story of the Indian failure in Kashmir is unfolded — not only in terms of attacks on security forces or media and the social media campaign against the Indian nation, but also the way Kashmir has come to represent an idea that seeks to undercut the idea of India. That is a threat from within, sponsored and patronised by Pakistan, over the decades as it continues to believe “Kashmir to be an unfinished agenda of the Partition.” That is, it wants to have Kashmir by all means, mostly through terrorism and stoking flames of rebellion against the Indian nation.

It should also be understood that the Washington’s interest in Pakistan is only on account of Afghanistan because its troops are suffering casualties there and there are no signs of Americans making Afghanistan a terror-free zone. It wants to pressure Pakistan by snubbing it diplomatically and holding out threat of cutting aid only to make it to "do more" in Afghanistan in eliminating terrorists, who hold two kinds of threat to the US. 

Firstly, America wants to be rid of the place as soon as possible because it is facing immense pressure at home on the fruitless and long war in Afghanistan that has brought its soldiers wrapped in coffins since October 2001 when it launched an operation against Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Secondly, it wants to leave Afghanistan as a place where havens for terrorists are eliminated forever. Both these goals are not possible to achieve unless Pakistan offers sincere cooperation to America in doing what Washington wants it to do 

The presence of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad, where he was killed by Americans, and that of Taliban supremo Mullah Omar in Karachi hospital, where he breathed his last, should have made it more than clear to America that Pakistan was deeply involved in promoting the terrorists in Pakistan and dodging the US while proclaiming to having done everything under the sun to eliminate terrorism. 

Pakistan brandishes its successes in its fight against terrorism in Swat Valley, area close to the Afghan border. It is silent on the Haqqani network and its activities across the border in Afghanistan. 

It claims that it also is a victim of terrorism and cites many incidents of terrorist violence to drive home the point that it is paying the price for being a part of the America-led war on terror. The fact that it has diverted the American money to promote groups of terror to harass its neighbours Afghanistan and India is well known to the world, including America. The US wants India to elevate its status and give a helping hand in Afghanistan as also to counterbalance the growing influence of China. 

India serves no other purpose for America. It is evident from the way America has avoided to side with India on Kashmir and censure Pakistan for its terror-oriented strategy in the Himalayan state. Pakistan's state actor — the army — has made the Line of Control that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan hot. 

It has attacked and killed Indian soldiers and civilians by firing from across the LoC and also by sponsoring Border Action Team assaults on the Indian soldiers. Its non-state actors — Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba — have mounted fidayeen attacks on the security forces. 

Against this backdrop, India needs to devise its own strategy to deal with Pakistan and its terror apparatus. Pakistan and India's geographical location is different from that of America and Pakistan, therefore India cannot, and should not, rely on the changed narrative of America towards Pakistan alone. It may help India in a limited way to infuse substance to its charges of terror against Pakistan. The stark reality, however, is that the America, as usual, is placing its interests first. This reality has become more pronounced with the “America first” mantra of Donald Trump. 

India has its own interests — and those may converge at some points with that of America. But, India as an immediate neighbour of Pakistan, also needs to have its own strategy deal with a hostile but unavoidable neighbour. We cannot afford to put all our eggs in Donald Trump's basket. He is a businessman and quite capable of changing his basket.

ajoshi57@gmail.com

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