Is India making the same mistake Pakistan made by allying with the US?

Published: June 26, 2016

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the end of their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 30, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

The post-colonial history tells us that Uncle Sam has been more of a destabiliser than a divine presence in the region. Pakistan has been a close ally of the US since the 50s. But has the Islamic country been a real beneficiary by playing the western world’s game in South Asia? In its blind desire to get military parity with India and neutralise the existential threat from its eastern neighbour, Islamabad became a front for Washington in the NATO’s war against communist Soviet Russia.

As a result, Pakistan, a newly born country, lost its strategic autonomy quite early in its life and became a pawn in the larger game of the western countries.

America used to fete the Pakistani leaders and military generals whenever they visited Washington. This gave them a bloated sense of their importance. What used to serve the egos of the Pakistani leaders was not in the larger interest of the nation.

Many of the evils afflicting the Islamic Republic today are by-products of its close embrace with the US.

India, under the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, decided to make a different tryst with its destiny. Victim of colonial power for more than 200 years, it decided to chart out a different foreign policy path and, instead of becoming a camp follower, it took steps towards becoming the leader of third world countries. Non-aligned Movement (NAM) was a by-product of this thinking. No doubt New Delhi has been a close ally of Soviet Russia ideologically and strategically. It, however, never rented out its strategic autonomy and independence in foreign policy.

But India, an emerging economy with overweening ambition, is ready to play Pakistan in the second decade of the 21st century. Unmindful of its colonial past and the history of the last six decades, New Delhi is willing to embrace the US in a close strategic hug, thereby auctioning its military independence and strategic autonomy. A leader of the NAM is in a great hurry to become a stooge of the US led alliance. Fearing the overwhelming presence of China in South Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, New Delhi, is willing to join the American camp to thwart the ambitions of Beijing.

The Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) or Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) that the South Asian democracy has agreed to sign in principle with Washington, would give the American military access to India’s bases. That would mean that New Delhi becomes a military lackey of the US, the way that Japan, Philippines and South Korea are. The South East Asian nations have different historical experiences and concerns, and they have reasons to join an Asia-Pacific alliance meant to contain China.

But India has its own place in history and nurtures a future which reflects its glory and achievement rather than being a flag bearer of another country’s ambition. It’s a fact universally acknowledged that America is in a desperate situation to play a leadership role in the world vis-à-vis China. Its depleted economic might limits its military ambition and outreach. Washington wants to rope in New Delhi to play its game and compensate its declining power.

The problem is that the governing party in India today is a Hindu right wing party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a group that has never participated in any anti-colonial movement and its ideological parent, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), always served as a stooge of the British during the freedom struggle. A party with such a dubious history is bereft of the larger vision that shaped the struggle for independent India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a man with highly constricted intellectual horizons, believes that by bringing India into a close military embrace with the US – he is venting the aspirations of new India. He wants India to think that anti-China strategic alliance with the west and a membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) are the best things that could happen to the country. But Modi, a man with limited ideology, does not understand that the corporatisation of the foreign policy might serve India’s corporate and business interests, but harms the larger vision of the nation.

He does not understand that India’s interests and the interests of the west are at odds with each other. Terrorism in the region found its roots, not because of Pakistan but because of the western world. Today Afghanistan is suffering not just because of Islamabad; Washington played a great role in legitimising destabilisation in the Hindu Kush.

A military alliance with the US would mean the sanitisation of the American sins in South Asia and elsewhere. Can we escape the consequences of accepting an international evil? If India allows Washington to launch drones from its territory against the Taliban or the ISIS, can we remain unscathed from the resultant consequences? A military alliance with America means India will also be drawn into war against terror, and that would make India even more vulnerable to terror attacks.

Friendship with the US comes at the cost of South Asian solidarity. It will not allow India to normalise their relationship with Pakistan. Joining the American camp pushes Islamabad deeper into the rival camp. Any future friendship with China becomes all the more difficult. The LSA means institutionalisation of historical animosities in South Asia.

You can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your neighbours. India has no option but to deal with its two neighbours – China and Pakistan. Why should New Delhi buy into the western notion that China’s rise is a threat to India? China is in a different league and India is nowhere close to the communist regime. Although ideally, establishing peace and stability in the larger picture would require New Delhi and Beijing to engage with each other more. However, at the moment, India’s alliance with the US creates tension in the region – with both the big neighbours looking at each other with greater distrust than ever before.

If New Delhi thinks that military alliance with the western nation would bring stability or parity in South Asia, it suffers from myopia. Bilateralism between India and Pakistan suffers. Normalisation of relations between the two neighbours becomes all the more difficult. As a result, Afghanistan remains just as disturbed as it has always been. Overall, the new military alliance promises to cause more destabilisation in South Asia than has ever been witnessed before.

If we don’t learn from history, history condemns us.

sanjay.kumar

Sanjay Kumar

A New Delhi based broadcast journalist who reports on national and international affairs. He is a contributor to the Asia Pacific based magazine, The Diplomat. He tweets as @destinydefier (twitter.com/destinydefier)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Milind A

    ” But Modi, a man with limited ideology, does not understand that the corporatisation of the foreign policy might serve India’s corporate and business interests, but harms the larger vision of the nation”
    What can be more to ‘larger vision of the nation’ than bringing FDI, creating jobs, development for all? If corporatisation of foreign policy serves it, so be it.. Your friend China has already dumped hopeless Communist ideology and has embraced capitalism bigway.. The problem with our leftist pen-pushers as this writer is that they remain in ivory towers, wedded to an hopeless & outdated ideology that the whole world has rejected. Nobody takes them seriously here in India, however Pakistanis continue on with their whinings and rage…Recommend

  • wb

    No we’re not. Are you lacking in history lessons or in common sense.

    When Pakistan became USA’s glove, right after 1947, it was a begging bowl and fundamentally sold itself to USA for money. In 1979, Pakistan literally became a mercenary for USA/Saudi alliance. In 1979, Pakistan was weaker.

    During the 70 year long history, Pakistan neither had good people to people relationships, money, might, trade, commerce. Pakistan wasn’t exporting anything to USA.

    Basically, Pakistan had nothing to sell to the USA except for itself. Pakistan neither had any soft sell, like democracy, pluralism.

    Pakistan’s economy wasn’t growing at 7% (although the lesser growth was also coming from US aid). Pakistan neither manufactured hairpins back then, nor it does now.

    Pakistan was weak in terms of integrity, sovereignty. None of its states were with Pakistan except for Punjab. Not Balochistan, not Bangladesh, not Sindh, not KPK.

    With regards to India today, it’s just the opposite.Recommend

  • SD

    Here goes Sanjay again with his anti Modi diatribes Recommend

  • Srinivasulu Mekala

    The author is absolutely clueless. He better go back to primary school and start reading history in the right perspective.
    Recommend

  • MT

    He has been criticizing Modi & india for last 2yrs. He should 1st learn to write unbiased article without making personal comments on modi.

    His hatred for modi & his organisation trashes his entire argument!Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    India is flip flopping around, its unstable foreign policy, one minute the UK ally, next minute the USSR ally, now the US ally. Recommend

  • CHARLIE HEBDO

    India has brains to utilize, that why many Indians are working as CEO for US Corporate companies, where as Pakistan has no brain or little, used Faisal Shahzad for terrorism.Recommend

  • Raj – USA

    There are four types:
    (1) He who knows not and knows not he knows not: he is a fool – shun him.
    (2) He who knows not and knows he knows not: he is simple – teach him.
    (3) He who knows and knows not he knows: he is asleep – wake him.
    (4) He who knows and knows he knows: he is wise – follow him.

    This author Sanjay Kumar and the other one Sapan Kapoor are this type.Recommend

  • Indusengineer

    Modi is a circus clown!Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Can the robust Indian economy make toilets for the Indian ladies? Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    We don’t have permanent friends or foes in diplomacy …. :-)Recommend

  • wiljose

    You are chinese stoog , right?Recommend

  • PUSHKAR TYAGI

    India wants to take whatever it can take from anybody. 70+ billion dollars from UAE, can you even imagine that? then there is Japan. Defence and nuclear partnerships with the US. trade with China. The word used here is strategic partnership. The author should be mature enough to differentiate between the two relationships.Recommend

  • IAF101

    If being an “ally of the USA” results in become a state like Pakistan than ALL American “allies” must exhibit the same phenomena.

    However, that is not the case. Each “ally” of America has either benefited greatly or collapsed miserably based on its own ambitions and aims for itself. Examples of South Korea, Israel , Japan, Singapore, Germany, etc come to mind for the positive impact of US “alliance”. While Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc come to mind in terms of the regressive effects of US alliance.

    India’s destiny is very much in India’s hands and it is upto India’s leaders to set the course for India as a US “ally” . Blaming the US for Pakistan’s failure is absurd considering that the US never stopped Pakistan from embracing liberalism, secularism, genuine democracy or free markets.Recommend

  • brar

    No we will use your toilets which are in excess of your population.Recommend

  • brar

    We are talking to him and why you are here ?Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    The money you speak of was compensation for supplies provided to US forces in Afghanistan. The US has not paid their bill in full, behaving like a deadbeat creditor to the embarrassment of Americans. Pakistan did not profit from the alliance, in fact they suffered financially and in terms of casualties. Don’t forget, the massive burden of the Afghan refugee population, going on since the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, all of these consequences of Pakistan’s support of its double-crossing ally.Recommend

  • CHARLIE HEBDO

    Google the corruption list, Pakistan is way ahead of India.Recommend

  • wb

    Correction. We only get paid Rs. 12.25. That’s just enough for one single idli.

    And you know I love you.Recommend

  • wb

    You don’t find my facts accurate?Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Yes India and USA collaborate on terrorism in China, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. The “trade” is merely US payment for the terrorism.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    India is being used by the US as proxy cannon fodder against the Chinese. That is not called a “strategic relationship” Obama calls them “client states”Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Commies you say? India with its large Communist party and Communist governed states. Pakistan never had a Communist party, forget about Communists running a province of Pakistan. The Commies are overwhelmingly in India.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Nehru was a British stooge, more concerned about his attempted affairs with white women and the bribes he collected for allowing the British a monopoly in selling junk cars in India.Recommend

  • Kushal

    Dear Sanjay,

    If Pakistan is in one end of the spectrum of US relationship then another end is surely post war Japan, Germany, Canada, South Korea, UAE, etc.
    What makes you think that relation ship with US will turn India into another Pakistan and not another one of those above mentioned nations?
    After all we have no Kashmir to conquer and don’t face existential threat even from our number one enemy China. China can be our main enemy , main competitor and main partner depending upon circumstances.
    We are not a militant state like Pakistan and share our world vision with US, Japan and others.Recommend

  • zoro

    And for the same reason the whole world is after India to have business …. :-)
    just in case for you to knowRecommend

  • LS

    Like LeT, JeM, ETIM (Uighyur), Talibaan, Al-qaeda, Haqqani Network.. and the Trade money you got of 33 Billion dollars?

    Get out of your delusions…Recommend

  • zoro

    Yes … ants with lots of brains !!! we believe in nanotechnology …… we have proved that big head does not really means big brains …Recommend

  • zoro

    Is that all you can find ???
    Google for more …Recommend

  • zoro

    International politics does not have permanent friends nor permanent enemies …Recommend

  • zoro

    Time will tell …. wait and watch this spaceRecommend

  • zoro

    When your history book says Pakistan got Independence from India … I rest my case …Recommend

  • zoro

    No wonder you still eating grass ….Recommend

  • mimi sur

    Dear Sanjay,

    Do not worry , We are Hindus, not block-headed muslims . So chill ..Recommend

  • LS

    They know what they are saying but it does not agree with your doctored national narrative.. that is where the chasm is.Recommend

  • LS

    No Indians don’t compare themselves to animals… What OP is referring to is called a “metaphor”.. I am sure they teach those things in elementary/ middle school there?Recommend

  • Paki Terrorist

    That exactly defines Pakistan’s relations with the US and China … India is a self respecting nation … will never be anyone’s client …Recommend

  • Paki Terrorist

    That is what you Pakistanis would like others to believe … !! … Pakistani narrative of losses and victimehood has no takers in the world … !! … the bottomline is, Dr AQ Khan ran a nuke Walmart for the Paki military establishment, and OBL was found hiding in Pakistan … Pakistan continues to receive billions of dollars in the name of hosting Afghan refugees …Recommend

  • Last Word

    It is extremely foolhardy to compare Pakistan and India in equation with USA. The author though Indian has penned the article to Pakistan’s perspective and is quite unrealistic on many points making a total mess of it. China is breathing down India’s neck constructing rail heads right up to its borders with India and shown its aggressive posture pitching tents inside our territory several times. India cannot afford to be complacent rightly entered into strategic alliance with US and acquisition of latest arms along with technology transfer. This is a masterstroke of killing two birds with one stone placing China on the defensive. Modi has emerged as a global leader and master strategist who has able to win both Western and Muslim world attracting investment more three trillion dollars in India much to disappointmentRecommend

  • Bibloo

    No, hindus are born like that. It’s a genetic disorder.
    Just like the constant drooling.Recommend

  • IAF101

    Does Hamdard in Pakistan sell Burnol ?Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Genetic Disorder?? Nope Hindus are not the ones who marry their own first cousinsRecommend

  • Gratgy

    Most men in your country look like bearded savagesRecommend

  • Gratgy

    Your comment says a lot on the education system in PakistanRecommend

  • Gratgy

    Yes we worship the universe and everything in it.Recommend

  • Sane

    All terrorist attacks in Pakistan are done by Indian state sponsored militants. Cat is out of bag now. Stop your old rhetoric and propaganda.Recommend

  • Sane

    No go for foreigner women.Recommend

  • Sane

    Facts are bitter for your typical Indian mindset and Hindu fanaticism.Recommend

  • Sane

    Same people say about your PM Modi. He possibility not an Indian PM. Possibly Gorbachev of India.Recommend

  • CHARLIE HEBDO

    Even your birth is by Indian state, check your birth certificate. Recommend

  • Gratgy

    We are not talking about people like the ones you mentionedRecommend

  • Gratgy

    But hardly any foreigner women visit PakistanRecommend

  • Gratgy
  • Gratgy

    LMAO, you think being a suicide bomber is something to be proud of. No wonder people call muslims terroristsRecommend

  • jay

    I get paid 11;50 just good enuf for a single vada Pav ! I love it so i am here everyday for my vada Pav !Recommend

  • Paki Terrorist

    You Muslim of Pakistan neither share Indian heritage, nor that of the Arabs … !! … you belong to nowhere, and will never ever find an identity …!! … your only occupation is religious nationalism, and only successful export is terrorism.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Fake Indian. If you’re going to pretend to be Indian, get it right.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Says the HINDU RSS mother of terrorists who killed Mahatma GandhiRecommend

  • IAF101

    Yes, takes years to “make” and design things from scratch – it doesn’t take so long when COPY. This is a disadvantage with learning and innovation but its a price India is willing to pay.Recommend

  • IAF101

    LOL.. I’m sure some janitor or Gardner from Pakistan also worked for Neil Armstrong – I guess that means Pakistanis also had a Lunar program??Recommend

  • Gratgy

    That’s why 93000 Pakistanis surrendered to the “Buzdil” army LMAO. Even your heroes are AfghansRecommend

  • Gratgy

    You mean the Japanese are Indian??Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Neither do you understand geography, nor nationality nor religious affiliations and you take pride in Muslim suicide bombers. Let me put it to you in very simple words, No one other than Muslims blow themselves up for the sake of religionRecommend

  • Noble Intellect

    My proof….Recommend

  • LS

    Give me the source of your stewed facts.. else it is just a bad stew that you guys eat at the hands of your own media… let me give you sourced facts:

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/1126706/40-pakistanis-live-poverty/

    The reality is it is more than 65% because the study above did not cover every region in pakistan.

    Hunger: http://www.ifpri.org/publication/global-hunger-index-interactive-map

    Ranked Higher than India at #11

    Electricity in your country is a joke… It is never there…

    Like I said before.. when you are in a deeper hole.. don’t pretend to be someone who is well off… you are far from well off..Recommend

  • LS

    You should first focus on feeding your people… Toilets come later… You gotta eat to use the toilet…

    http://www.ifpri.org/publication/global-hunger-index-interactive-mapRecommend

  • Ronnie

    Milking America for billions of USD as aid, hardly sounds like mistake.Recommend

  • Tariq

    what about the 1965 war. You can only win by conspiracies. Recommend