Obama’s Visit: Hopes and Fears
Obama’s visit to India is being looked at keenly not only in India but Pakistan as well. There are elements of hope and fear both in Delhi and Islamabad.
IMPRESSIONS BY UDAY SHANKER
US President Barack Obama is visiting India and there is a sense of extreme panic and optimism in Delhi and Islamabad as if everything is going to change with just one visit: India would get a seat at the United Nations Security Council, and all its nuclear aspirations would be met .
There is also a hope that the Indian companies would get everything that they have mentioned in their wish list. This is Indian outlook. At the same time, the security agencies are worried over the plans of terrorists to disrupt peace, or, in the words of Union Home Secretary G K Pillai, some “spectacular attack”, akin to the one that took place during Obama’s predecessor Bill Clinton in March 2000.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is worried over the timing of the visit, the places where President Obama would stay and also as to what would he say or not say. It has raised its own level of apprehensions and hopes in a typical fashion as if every matter would get resolved or not with this visit.
The concerns of Pakistan were highlighted by the Dawn newspaper. In one of its report, the newspaper said, that even the symbolism was important for Pakistan during the visit of President Barack Obama. “The government is in two minds about US President Barack Obama`s visit to India, especially over the symbolism hidden in the decision to pick Mumbai`s Taj Hotel for starting the trip as it was the focal point of the Nov 2008 terrorist strikes on the city. New Delhi has all along been blaming Islamabad for the siege, albeit in diplomatic jargon.
Mr Obama is likely to make a statement on the war against terror from the hotel.Anxious eyes in Islamabad will meticulously examine how the American president manages ties with India without impacting on long-term partnership with Pakistan.
Senior officials in background interviews confirmed that they had been reassured by the Americans that, unlike the British Prime Minister’s allegations of terror export from Pakistan during his visit to India, there would be no brazen anti-Pakistan remarks. Nonetheless, they are worried that President Obama will try to ratchet up pressure on Pakistan to act against leaders of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its reincarnations; and certainly to speed up the trial of suspects in the Mumbai attack. But the forthcoming statement on terrorism is not Pakistan’s only concern.
The United States is an important global leader. At the moment it is a nation to which India looks for support at the diplomatic level against China and Pakistan and also looks for its support to play its role in Afghanistan. India’s regional position gets consolidated the way US treats it, given the fact that its hostilities with China are far from over, despite the fact that India and China are the largest trading partners. The US has lost that position.
India and the United States are the two largest democracies in the world. It is a globally recognized fact that the two countries have changed their attitude toward each other, especially after Cold War was over. India also raised its position across the globe because of its growing economy. It is a growing economy and the United States has interest in the growing middle class.
Pakistan is an important nation for the United States. Without Islamabad’s help, Americans cannot achieve their objectives in Afghanistan where they entered in October 2001 and still have not been able to find a way to move out of that country. Despite Obama’s commitment to pull out the American troops in July 2011, the scenario there seems not to be going that way. Instead, things are becoming more complicated over there. A surge has also not helped and the growing corruption of the America- supported Hamid Karzai government is adding to problems of the United States.
As to how much crucial is Pakistan to the interests of the United States in the region became clear when Islamabad closed down border crossing into Afghanistan after drone attacks in which Pakistani soldiers were killed last month. The NATO supply trucks were set ablaze by dozens and the United States had to say, “ sorry” to get the supplies resumed. In this kind of a delicate situation, the United States cannot afford to annoy Pakistan. Its aid of $ 2 billion to Pakistan has not assuaged the hurt feelings over there.
President Obama, it is expected will be doing a fine balancing act as he cannot afford to annoy either India or Pakistan. And the Indian and Pakistan worries have cropped up more because of their own doubts of each other than anything else.
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Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Nov 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Nov 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 2 Nov 2010 00:00:00 IST
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