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Kayani in Washington

…remember that the man with the laundry list also has a begging bowl.

General Ashfaq Kayani will be in Washington DC for high-level talks on “cementing a long-term strategic partnership with the United States.”  And as Gen Kayani goes to Washington, a slew of articles have appeared in Pakistan’s English-language and vernacular press, virtually popping the sparkling Rooh Afzah in anticipation of benevolence manifold from the US.  Pakistan today is behaving like a giddy teenager who has already chosen the names of her kids following a two day courtship, when in fact, a game of “he loves me, he loves me not” would be more appropriate, given the history of US-Pak ties.

We have done ourselves no favors either, from over-the-top statements from Yashwant Sinha to the vague utterances of SM Krishna, perspective on the Pak COAS’s visit, America’s compulsions and India’s place in world affairs seems to have been lost.  C Raja Mohan attempts to correct that with a brilliant piece in The Indian Express:

Only a bold man will bet that the US-Pakistan relationship will now evolve into something more than the marriage of convenience it has been for decades. After all, there are little commercial or societal ties that bind the US to Pakistan and it might be difficult to sustain the US-Pakistan partnership once the current expediency passes.

Although Pakistan’s leverage in Washington today is real, Kayani might be over-estimating its value. Kayani’s American wishlist is said to have four key demands. There is no way the US can meet the entirety of Pakistan’s demands. Nor can the administration deliver on them unilaterally; some of them — like the nuclear deal — require congressional consensus as well as unanimity in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. There are others that are simply not possible — force Indian concessions on Kashmir.

As it responds to the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue this week, Delhi’s message must be three-fold — global efforts aimed at a positive transformation of Pakistan are welcome; expanded economic and military assistance to Pakistan must be conditioned on Pindi’s commitment to dismantle its jehadi assets; India is ready to address all of Pakistan’s concerns — including Kashmir — if it gives up violent extremism as an instrument of state policy. [The Indian Express]

Certainly, there are critical foreign policy questions that India needs to answer.  Questions about the nature and limitations of this new-found “strategic” relationship with the US, our own perceptions of our place and stature in the region and our relations with Pakistan and powers such as Russia and Iran with regard to the dynamics of the AfPak situation require careful deliberation.  This needs to happen regardless of the Obama-Kayani meet.

This government needs to focus on issues over which it has control; let our neighbors continue to revel in the delusional.

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4 Responses to Kayani in Washington

  1. Krishna March 23, 2010 at 6:13 am #

    Raja Mohan’s formulation is excellent, and in terms of Washington it can be boiled down to one: Pakistan has to give up on supporting terrorists, no matter how noble the cause. Washington understands that formula. I don’t think the Chinese do (or care), and while the Saudis might that entire Wahabi promotion thing is a bit dicey.

    I think the Pakis played it well. The nuclear thing was a red flag, distracted the Indians from their message, and got them into place to ask for one last big bribe before the US leaves the region.

  2. Venkat March 23, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    There is some noise in the press about a possible US-Pak Nuclear deal like the Indo-US one. How probable is this nuclear deal? Can the US get it through at NSG, if it manages to cross the previous hurdles?

    Ok, what if Pakistan also manages to get a deal? How does it affect India?

  3. filtercoffee March 23, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    @Venkat: I’m reading an interesting piece on Chatham House on Britian’s foreign policy choices; many of the philosophical points raised could also apply to us as well. I’m assuredly confident that nothing will come of this civil nuclear deal; even so, as CRM puts it, we should focus on what are our main objectives vis-a-vis Pakistan, and how we can go about achieving them, both bilaterally and through influencing global efforts.

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  1. Pragmatic Euphony » Understanding Indo-US relationship - March 23, 2010

    […] of the Headley saga, has further added to the nervousness of many Indian commentators. Although C Raja Mohan has tried to dispel the many misperceptions generated in the Indian minds about the Pakistan-US dialogue and Pakistani media’s […]

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