A One-Way Street

Putting all eggs in one basket will not do
A One-Way Street

THE image of President Trump speaking to the media inWashington in the presence of Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, about Modi'spurported request to him to mediate on Kashmir has had a shattering effect. Theissue is not whether Modi actually asked Trump to mediate or not, but how thisepisode has revealed the fiasco that Modi's foreign policy has turned out tobe.

Imran Khan's visit to the United States was an affirmationof how the Trump administration has changed its approach to Pakistan. WithTrump intent on withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan, Pakistan's rolein getting Taliban to talk became crucial. The Imran Khan's visit is a recognition of the progress that has beenregistered in the peace talks with the Taliban, for which Pakistan is beinggiven due credit.  The only problem isthat India has been left out of this whole process.

The Modi government, which had put all its eggs in the USbasket, now suddenly finds itself in an unenviable position.  For Trump, getting out of Afghanistan and theKashmir problem have got linked up – just the way Pakistan would want it.

Modi, in the past five years, had got India, step by step,hitched on to the American geo-political strategy. He had bought into the"Indo-Pacific" design of the United States; he had given the Americans theright to use the Indian bases for its military operations by signing theLogistics Support Agreement. By becoming a major defence partner of the US, theModi government had gone on to sign other agreements to entangle the Indianmilitary further with the US armed forces.

As a subordinate ally, India kept the United States informedof India's retaliatory airstrike at Balakot. After the shooting down of theIndian air force plane, Trump was the first to announce that the pilotAbhinandan would be released. Trump has also attributed the arrest of HafizSaeed as due to the strong pressure applied by his administration.

With all this leverage gained with India constantlyrequesting the US to intercede with Pakistan, Trump is now signaling that theissue of Kashmir must be dealt with by India as per America's wishes.

As per Trump's diktats, India has stopped buying oil fromIran and Venezuela. After all this loyal kowtowing, it must be painful to seethe spectacle of Trump assigning Pakistan a key role in the transition inAfghanistan.

Trump's remarks on mediation on Kashmir reflect an arrogancewhich has stemmed from the way the United States has been able to dictate theissues and the tenor of the bilateral relationship.  In order to counter Trump's remarks, Indianofficial sources have  informed thatduring the Trump-Modi meeting in Osaka, only four issues were discussed – Iran,5G, trade and defence.  This agendaitself shows which way the relationship is tilted – all in America's favour.

The United States wants India to break all trade ties withIran, including oil imports.  TheAmericans want India not to involve the Chinese Company, Huawei, and give itany role in developing the 5G network in India; on trade, Trump has alreadytaken a series of  steps against Indiaand wants India to lower tariffs and buy more US goods.  Finally, the agenda of defence would havemeant the purchase of American weapons and defence equipment.

After taking this one way street, Modi finds himself facedwith the prospect of India becoming one of the two wheels of the Americanchariot, the other being Pakistan. He will also have to face the blowback whenthe Taliban takeover Afghanistan. 

Prakash Karat is Member, Polit Bureau CPI(M).

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