India may need to act unreasonably to contain the short-term fallouts of the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.
From The Cable:
Here is a readout that Sourabh Gupta, a senior researcher with Samuels International Associates (SIA), published in the Nelson Report, a daily Washington insider’s newsletter published by SIA’s Chris Nelson. Our sources say this readout is “almost exactly right.”
Key Pakistani political demands: Non-negotiable requirement for friendly successor regime in Kabul; significant downgrading of Indian presence and influence in Afghanistan, including New Delhi’s training of Afghan military; preference for extended-term American presence in Afghanistan/strategic neighborhood, notwithstanding drawdown of forces next year.
Secondary set of political-military demands: faster delivery of upgraded weapons package; expedited payment for outstanding dues related to AfPak support operations and assistance with civil infrastructure rebuilding in frontier territories; U.S. to lay-off from Islamabad’s nuclear program (given latter’s need to ramp-up fissile material production in absence of bestowal of India-equivalent civil nuclear deal); U.S. to intensify diplomatic effort to facilitate productive Islamabad-New Delhi dialogue on ‘core’ issues – Kashmir and water (upper riparian/lower riparian) issues.
Key U.S. demands: Islamabad to re-direct primary counter-insurgency energies against key Islamist groups based/operating out of North Waziristan (Al Qaeda, Afghan Taliban Haqqani network, local talibanized tribal warlords); unfettered drone strikes in N. Waziristan/other tribal territories to continue; expanded CIA intel. operations/listening posts in Pakistani cities – Islamabad to subsequently allow access to Taliban leaders arrested by way of real-time communication intercepts; Islamabad to rein-in larger infrastructure of jihad that it has casually tolerated, even supported.(Emphasis added) [The Cable]
A couple of quick observations here. One, all the Pakistani demands here barring two — the US presence and the reimbursements of funds — are India-centric (as emphasised in bold above). Other than the demands of resolution of ‘core’ issues and reducing Indian influence in Afghanistan which directly pertain to India, my fellow blogger Dhruva pointed out that the demand for “a friendly successor regime in Kabul” actually translates into an Afghan regime hostile to India, the upgraded weapons package is meant to be used against India, and the nuclear demands also explicitly list India as a reason. In contrast to the Pakistani demands which are mostly strategic in nature, almost all the US demands are tactical demands of greater security cooperation — merely an expansion of what is already happening between the US and Pakistan in that country.
Two, there was earlier only one “core” issue from the Pakistani side between India and Pakistan; now there are two: Kashmir and water. Would it be unfair to surmise that the recent Indo-Pak talks where both the countries have agreed to discuss all issues are an outcome of this US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue?
Finally, if this report of the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue is indeed true, and Pakistan does indeed get all its demands – then this will also have long-term implications for India because it will lead to a more aggressive and demanding Pakistan. Pakistan, if it succeeds, will have done so through its bad behaviour whereas India has long seen good behaviour as the means to achieve greater reward (such as the Indo-US nuclear deal).
Thus time has perhaps come for India to consider acting badly and shake its strategic partnership with the US up a bit. While long-term US and Indian interests will continue to remain aligned, the short-sightedness of the current US administration in pandering to these Pakistani demands is going to hurt India in the short- to mid-term. Although not acknowledged so publicly by Washington, Indian cooperation remains critical to the success of the US plans in the region. India now needs to issue a reminder, if not a mild warning, to Washington by initiating a few unreasonable actions that would threaten to upset the US applecart in the region. That may perhaps be the only way to secure Indian regional security objectives in the short- to mid-term (which are incidentally same as the US objectives in the region). Moreover, it would also prevent the US from taking some improvident decisions that could be catastrophic for the future of the region.