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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 11, March 2, 2013

Towards Global Isolation: A Word of Caution

Wednesday 6 March 2013

by V.C. Bhutani

We in India need to call things by their proper names, not sparing the US or Pakistan and not bending over backwards to be nice to China. It is reasonable to assume that the US needs Pakistan in order to complete the ISAF withdrawal by the end of 2014. The end of 2014 is not so very far off. In two years we shall see the ISAF out of Afghanistan altogether. Thereafter the US shall not need Pakistan. Will the US then, in January 2015, make a determination that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terror? That point in time shall not be long in coming. Even then the US may find or invent excuses not to have to make a determination that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terror, even if the rest of the world holds the latter opinion.
We should remember that Obama’s commit-ment to India is rather pro forma and not really solid or based on conviction. Obama has desig-nated Kerry as the Secretary of State to take over from Hillary Clinton. We know very well that Kerry has been pronouncedly pro-Pakistan in his conviction, expression, and action during the last few years that he has been Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. We in India should be wary of any good coming out of Kerry’s accession to the State Department. In fact we should expect that Kerry shall lead Obama, as if by the nose, along lines that will be blatantly pro-Pakistan and ipso facto anti-India.

This is a sad moment for India-US relations. It’s a much sadder moment for the global war against terror, a phrase which has gone out of use in Obama’s first term. Clearly, Obama and the US in general shall not give a damn about terror as long as it does not affect the US.
But no one should underrate the possibility of ‘9/11 II’.
Secondly, it is about time to say that Pakistan has been going on a little too long in its sponsor-ship of terror as an instrument of its policy, to be precise, since 1990. Before that date Pakistan tried every trick up its sleeve to achieve the one-point programme of its existence, namely, to grab Kashmir by any means, fair or foul. Pakistan tried war, infiltration, sponsoring and provoking insurrection, and whatever else it could think of. While it pursued its objective of getting even with India in every respect, say, in the matter of nuclear weapons, the US looked the other way. When nothing else worked Pakistan took recourse to terror, which it had seen to have been used by Reagan with such devastating effect against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

When the Soviets left Afghanistan, the jihad enthusiasts were available for Pakistan. Pakistan believed that jihad, which had been effective in Afghanistan, could not fail against India.

No one in Pakistan saw the difference between Afghanistan and India.

It used to be said in the early 1990s that in sponsoring terror Pakistan was riding a tiger: Pakistan would discover in due time that when it attempted to dismount the tiger, then the tiger would turn its attention on the rider. This has been happening with ever more disastrous results for Pakistan. It is reasonable to assume that the tiger shall eat up its rider in due time.

No one in Pakistan has realised the dangers of sponsoring terror. Even at this late hour there is no one in Pakistan to realise that it is important for Pakistan’s sheer survival to bring terror and terrorists under control and stop using terror outside Pakistan’s borders. Pakistan remains totally devoted to the use of terror against India whenever the opportunity offers.

India is seemingly going full blast in attempting to build relations with Japan and Australia. We should know that these countries need the US at their back to stiffen their resolve in any matter of significance. They will not go into realms that the US may frown at. Beyond a point, Japan and Australia may not go far with India.
Russia has hardly been on its feet post-Gorbachev. Without being nostalgic about the former Soviet Union, it is possible to understand that Russia has not yet succeeded in putting its own house in order. Russian society throughout history has not experienced governments that worked for the good of the people. Successive governments were consistent in maintaining themselves in power without being overly keen about ameliorating the condition of the poorest sections of the people. For a while it seemed that the former Soviet Union almost built itself as the second superpower but the Iron Curtain prevented the world from finding out the ground actualities, which were expressed in sputniks, gulags, and suppression of dissent. These did not aggregate to world power. It must be acknow-ledged to Gorbachev’s credit that he saw the Soviet Union as a giant with feet of clay and proceeded to ensure that a showdown with the other superpower did not come about: the result of any such showdown would have been an unmitigated disaster. But, post-Gorbachev, things have not lifted up for the common people.

Indira Gandhi may have deluded herself and the Indian people that the Indo-Soviet pact (August 9, 1971) would give a boost to India’s position vis-à-vis Pakistan and enable India to cut at least one thorn on India’s side, but that pact served its limited purpose in the context of the Cold War. Since then, much water has flowed under the bridges and in the 41 years since then nothing has remained the same. Today, however, Russia is in no position to give India much hope or help in any respect except selling armaments.

Europe itself is in disarray, largely because of the profligacy of many of its leaders and polite dissipation of some others. The Middle East is unable to terminate its Spring and turn to more normal ways of life. Africa is unable to get out of its largely tribal past.

The US seems inclined to renew and reinforce its commitment to Israel and Pakistan.

So, then, who are India’s friends?

V. C. Bhutani retired from the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi, in 2005. He is currently working on a study of Indian foreign policy after Pokhran II.

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