Thursday, July 13, 2006

Misguided Indian Foreign Policy

Times of India in its latest editorial laments that USA reaction to Mumbai blast is inadequate, much to be desired and falls way short of what is needed. ( ) TOI Editorial is expecting that USA should pressurize Pakistan and hold them publicly responsible for all the help it is giving to terrorists. These are all tall claims, misplaced expectations and in a way incorrect reading of how things work in foreign policy and how they should work too. Here are reasons why TOI Editorial and such orientation of Indian Foreign Policy are wrong.

1. American Congress has been relatively quick in passing resolutions in condemning these blasts. It is important that elected representatives of America go on record to condemn these terrorist acts.

2. The basic question is when India is spending all its international political capital in passing of ‘Indo American Nuclear Accord’ the way she wants; she does not have anything left to bargain when it comes to terrorism. Mumbai experienced bomb blast in 1992. Dawood Ibrahim and his gang had been generally identified as the master mind behind that. The question is all these 14 years did India make extradition of Dawood as the corner stone of her foreign policy? Did India say that if Pres. Bush or Pres. Clinton wanted to visit India, they must deliver concretely on this terrorist? There seems to be perceptible lack on that front. India keeps on harping USA for Nuclear Status or UN SC permanent seat or now UN Secretary Nomination. Then, whose foreign policy is misplaced? If India itself asks for something else other than what she really needs to have, how correct it is to expect that world gives what she needs?

3. After 9/11 when USA started Afghanistan war against Taliban, there was heightened, and completely misplaced, expectation on behalf of NDA government that USA would topple Pakistani government. In effect there was euphoria that India would get ‘free ride’ as far as removing the antagonistic government of Pakistan. No one is trying to justify Pakistani regime here or their participation in terrorists act. That is completely besides the point. But the fact is Indian rulers attempted to base country’s foreign policy on a free ride. It took a while and in specific some reality checks from Colin Powell to NDA government to realize that USA would not blindly tilt the balance in South Asia.

4. The objective for America is to get Bin Laden. American establishment (again the principle architect of that policy had been Colin Powell and Rice is following that in a way) has fundamentally made the calculation that it is much cheaper to keep Pakistan as a client state and try to achieve America’s objectives instead of opening yet another conflict front. Merits and demerits of this policy can be discussed and Indian foreign policy makers and Union Cabinet can very well chew on that privately. But publicly to expect that effectively America comes into India’s camp as far as Indo-Pak conflict goes, is rather a na├»ve expectation and surely not a wise way to base India’s Foreign Policy.

5. Finally, to what an extent India is participating in America’s Global War on Terrorism to demand that America reciprocate help to India? Sure, it is in America’s best interest to be on the side of helping India in all respects – nuclear energy, trade and fight against terrorism. But there is no single concrete act in which India has accorded a helping hand to America and here we are criticizing America not helping India. It may very well be the case that America is late to the war against terrorism which Indian has been facing quite long. But just being early ‘there’ does not entitle a country to claim that every one else accord that country leadership. Leadership will be determined by your contribution.

6. Take the case of fight against LTTE. India is not in the position to side with Sri Lankan government in this fight. Tamil province, its state politics and votes complicate all that matter for Indian politicians. When Kashmir terrorists took minister’s daughter as hostage, Indian government in the end released captured hard core terrorists. So India may be paying the heavy price of terrorist acts; but her actions do not inspire the confidence that she wants to fight the menace of terrorism at all cost. Iran is another case in point. India’s ambivalent policy towards Iran and approach of hedging her bets do not let her come with any clarity as far as her policy towards terrorism goes. In the global war against terrorism, there is no luxury in compromising your resolve and yes, it applies to USA too.

May be latest Mumbai bomb blast will bring this realization to Indian establishment and it will start rethinking its foreign policy priorities and gives up the habit of expecting help from other countries. It is like this – to be a leader you do not wait for others to nominate you and you do not depend on others to help. When India has dealt with these political challenges on her own, the world will come to India. This is amply proved by the spectacular success of India in the economic field.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
July 13, 2006.

1 comment:

Kamalakar said...

Hi Umesh, I liked what I read here. India and Pakistan are stuck in the past. They have been ruled for long by people who lived with the belief that they are each other's mutual enemies. This is made clear in UN assemblies, Masala films, Parliment debates etc. They are likely to be ruled by people (both babus and netas) who have grown up on this antagonsim and as tradition traditionally demands would continue on the rut.
Why should America, Russia, etc should be begged to get two nations see reason and what is good for them. India cannot grow out of partition and Pakistan cannot grow out of Banglades division. It is time both nations became adults and said, well what is good for us is this and no point in playing the game of bombing each others cities and attacking some mountain peaks.
We must realise that Pakistan is our good friend and Pakistan should realise that India is its good friewn because that way they can trade, share and solve a number of problems. This one upmanship will getr the two no hwere. Eye for an eye has made both blind.
Kamalakar Bhat