McMastering Islamabad

Not a fortnight back India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval betook himself to Washington and there in his meeting with his US counterpart he squawked and he complained against, what else, Pakistani-sponsored terrorism in India. Yesterday, Lt Gen HR McMaster, Trump’s NSA made an unannounced trip to Islamabad. So it was the case in the one instance of Muhammad going to the Mountain and, in the other, of the Mountain coming to Muhammad!

Did McMaster at all talk sense to the Pakistani COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa or  Prime Minister Nawaz on the Kashmir-directed terrorism emanating from ISI quarters, or alert them to Delhi’s long standing grievance? It’d appear not, because all McMaster said was that he “had hoped for many, many years that the Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after these groups less selectively than they have in the past and the best way to pursue their interest in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy not through the use of proxies that engage in violence.”

Had this statement been confined to the first part of it, namely,  “that the Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after these groups less selectively than they have in the past”, then Narendra Modi’s BJP regime, which seems to have made leaning on the US its foreign and security policy calling card, could have taken heart. After all McMaster would have been seen as buying into Delhi’s argument about Pakistan’s complicity. Instead, as the US NSA and his team made clear, Washington is desperately keen that the Pakistan Army not roil the Afghan scene by silk-gloving the terrorist  Haqqani Network elements who enjoy safe haven on the Pak side of the Durand Line, and by implication, that it doesn’t give a damn whether GHQ, Rawalpindi, reins in terrorist gangs such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammad active in J&K, or not.

McMaster’s lightning visit also suggests that the Trump Administration understands well that the use of massive fuel air explosives to decimate Daesh (Islamic State) concentrations, will not do the trick. And hence that the frontline role of Pakistan is critical to a defeated US doing the obvious thing — declaring victory and getting the hell out!

In the event, there seems to be no end to lesson that Delhi is simply unwilling to learn! So, the class of Modi, Doval, Sushma Swaraj, Foreign Office, et al, sit you down, and repeat after me:

NO, the US is NOT in South Asia to support and advance India’s national interest.

NO, NO, the US is NOT in the least keen about stamping out terrorism at-large, leave alone terrorists discomfiting India, only terrorists directly threatening the US and its interests.

NO, NO,NO you can’t cut a mutually beneficial deal with President Donald J Trump — as the Indian PM expects to when he visits the US this year, unless the benefit tilts overly to the American side.

And NO, NO, NO, NO, umrika bahadur will NOT save India’s goose in any circumstances, and CANNOT be relied on to do anything other than work to bolster its own national interest at all times.

And, YES, India will have to further its own interests by itself, by whatever means and whatever it takes.

When the diplomatic geography is so little appreciated and basic precepts of international relations are ill-understood by the Indian leadership and, institutionally, by the Government of India, it is hardly to be wondered that India gets it in the neck all the time.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Asian geopolitics, civil-military relations, Culture, Decision-making, domestic politics, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, guerilla warfare, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Army, Indian Politics, Internal Security, MEA/foreign policy, Military/military advice, Pakistan, Pakistan military, SAARC, society, South Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Terrorism, United States, US., Weapons, Western militaries. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to McMastering Islamabad

  1. &^%$#@! says:

    Very accurate and articulate article Bharat. The problem is nobody in ND will listen. The entire lot is compromised and ossified. One can almost draw analogies between Chacha Nehru and the group of 1962 and Chacha Modi and his motley crew.

    • Apna says:

      The rot which started under American asset and agent mm singh the traitor unelectable Pm ,has now so much destroyed Indian defence and foreign and economic policies that a complete revolution or a military defeat of India will do the course correction.
      That military defeat is staring at India who is very much nakedvin defence preparedness but jumping at chance for a fight being cheered by American agents .
      India is doomed -800 years of hindu slavery tells the same story.

  2. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    May be, if Modi ji shows real keen attitude, like not blinking at all and holding hands and hugging.
    May be if he says he is really keen on buying Reactors, F-35, F-16, EMALs.
    May be if he shows really how important the COMCASA.
    Then perhaps US will warn the Pakis with GWOT.

    Imaginative heading BTW.

    Will a MSG kind of jhalsa do the trick? What goddamned fiery bush will make the Mountain speak sense to Mohamed.

  3. Siddharth Joshi says:

    Sir
    It seems that India-US Relations have 4 limiting boundaries

    1-India must not carry out any further nuclear tests (unless the Chinese start testing again) and India must not test/deploy a ICBM. India must persist with its “responsible” behaviour regarding selling weapon platforms like Brahmos and nuclear technology
    2-The expansion of the Indian Navy must be within “reasonable limits” which the U.S. and other countries are comfortable with and that too ideally with U.S. military equipment-after all billions of dollars are at stake for the military -industrial complex of the U.S.
    3-Pakistani sensitivities particularly in Afghanistan must be accommodated by India and India must not try to change the balance of power in South Asia too much in its favor-i.e. the U.S. is ok with some tactical military by India action on the LOC/IB but nothing much beyond that no matter what the provocation by Pakistan
    4-India must calibrate its relations with Iran based on the overall tone of the U.S.-Iran relationship

    Between these boundaries are the areas where the U.S. and India can cooperate, namely; ensuring that China does not completely dominate Asia, economic cooperation (Information technology, FII investments in the Stock Market, Education etc) and growing people to people interactions.

    However U.S.-China economic relations are so deep and entrenched that the U.S. will at the end of the day always give preference to those than U.S.-India relations and it is up-to India to decide whether it can achieve its rightful place on the world stage by relying so heavily on the U.S.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dear sir
    Under these circumstances where India is dealing with 4 major problems like China pressure, Pakistan (kulbhushan Jadhav hanging) Kashmir unrest and internal opposition traitor parties like Congress what India can do for seeking its own interest?

    Do u really think that Ajit Doval and foreign ministry not aware of USA vested interest.What are the choices left to India. Any problem can be solved within the dimension of given constraint and given inputs. When India tried to show muscularity by allowing Dalai Lama the way you indirectly recommended what India has achieved ? Probably insurgencies in North East in future or trouble by napakis a failed Pakistan

    Please suggest solution considering practicality and the consequences for exercising the power which turns to be good for our nation India

    • But that’s because Delhi is not going the whole hog in discomfiting Beijing as China does India. For instance, we have to wage guerilla warfare with trained commando from the Tibetan exile community, link up with the Uyghur movement for East Turkestan and, as I have repeatedly, stressed nuclear missile arm Vietnam and other states on Chinese periphery (as Beijing did Pakistan, on India’s border). Then we’ll get somewhere. Not this running to Uncle Sam at the slightest inconvenience.

      • &^%$#@! says:

        Yes, Bharat all this is fine. But first India needs a credible deterrent and a reliable SSBN fleet. Playing a nebulous Uyghur and Tibet card will only serve the interests of the US, given that India is now officially a US servant (LEMOA, IUCNA,……..,neutering the feeble Indian N-deterrent,…….). Things could well get out of hand, and India could very well be dealt a military thrashing. Having air/naval/army exercises with the US might make good photo-ops for some coolies to use as ammunition to spread the :strategic partnership” nonsense. Once the bullets start flying, one can expect the US to flee from India’s side.

        This cartoon of the US instigating Georgia to instigate the Russians and then gingerly escaping the scene after Georgia got thrashed needs to be kept in mind:

        You may recall the US instigation and “sage advice” in the prelude to and during the 1962 conflict. Needlessly slighting the Russians has left a huge gap in India’s capabilities. I’ve heard from sources that are usually considered reliable that certain sections of the Indian private sector companies are being actively dissuaded from working on key projects (notably the LCA etc…). This is naturally to stop any derailment of the antique F-16 procurement by the LCA. With 3 LCA lines in parallel operation, there would not be any necessity for buying the F-16. One possible stop gap measure would be to either augment the existing MiG-29 fleet with more MiG-29’s/-35’s or expand the number of SU-30’s and go in for what now seems to be the shelved Super-30 upgrade.

        Tata’s and RIL have/will roll over and play dead at the drop of a hat. L&T seems to be holding out. For how long, I don’t know. These companies should be told in no uncertain terms that their participation in ANY lucrative domestic projects (both military and civilian) depends upon their participation in critical defense projects (which they will not be doing for free). BTW, ISRO needs to exercise maximum caution. Some dirty tricks might well be in the works from the “strategic partner”. Finally, I gather that certain personnel from the ATV project have left permanently for the US, actively aided by the US Embassy in ND. If this is true, then a bunch of US diplomats should be thrown out and the Hyderabad consulate temporarily shut down.. Do you think Modi has the stuff to do the above? I doubt it with very good reasons.

      • &^%$#@! says:

        Bharat, depending who once chooses to believe, the number of Uighur’s in the ISIS is around 300+ at the maximum:
        http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/07/20/report-100-chinese-muslims-have-joined-isis-islamic-state-china-terrorism-uighur/
        If an organization like the ISIS which has both cultural and religious affinity to the Uighur’s and funded by Turkey and the US could attract such paltry numbers, what could a country like India without professional intelligence services worth speaking of and with a NSA like Doval do in attracting sufficient numbers numbers to “wreak mayhem” in Xingjiang province? Where would this so-called “training take place”, who will fund it?…….Now wrt the Tibetan exile community in India, it is believed that the level of Chinese penetration though not critical is not insignificant. Further, many Tibetan’s in India are sick of living as exiles in shanty towns. The Dalai Lama has lost much appeal among the many of the younger lot of Tibetan exiles, who see him using their exiled status to further his own pleasures. He is seen as some Mother Teresa clone who uses(d) the misery of his flock to live “the high life” – meeting with celebrities and world leaders, flying first class around the globe,….To go a bit further, he has said the he will not be reborn. This will potentially cause a serious rift among Tibetan Buddhists:
        http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-tibet-idUSKBN0N70B720150416
        JMT!

      • No quibble with all that you have said except for one thing. The present Dalai Lama has hinted that his next incarnation may indeed be found here. This apparently is to preempt Beijing from appointing one as it has indicated it’d do.

  5. India should copy a Russian leaf and sell high tech arms to Chinese clients. Starting with Asia, Africa and Latin America.
    High tech Japan, South Korea. Singapore, Israel and Taiwan are amazed at our relentless Space, Defense progress.
    Sure, Uncle Sam will oppose. But Modiji can surely say no. He already said no to Apple, Face book, CIA, and FBI. Can’t he?
    Rao, Manmohan, Chidambaram trio turned India an American vassal state 26 years ago. Same year Gorbachev and Yeltzin sold Russia to the West. It took a Putin only one month to reverse and regain Russian pride. Surely by this August 15 Modiji can say no to DC, Beijing and Riyadh.
    Russia slowly and systematically woo American allies, Turkey, Malaysia, Australia, Brazil,Italy, Germany into Russian arms(pun intended) with Yasen, Triumf etc.
    American media’s anti India stand and CIA links are well known. They portray Russia and India as small, weak and backward. They praise China and Saudi as liberal democracies. They hail Saudi counter terrorism efforts. And give a Mullah award. Nobel peace prize to China and Saudi is in the pipeline!
    See how pacifist Japan handled Chinese insults on them. When Indians attacked in USA Indian peaceniks brag Chinese is the most law abiding in America. What about Chinese spying on America? FBI can’t handle Chinese Triads in USA any more. So CIA handles it. Saudis receive red carpet welcome in USA, In return they give Uncle Sam 9/11. Chinese bullied, humiliated American President in Hangzhou.
    In 1953 Korean War Mighty Americans surrendered before the Chinese. Mao called much overhyped US Nuclear annihilation bluff. Prince Obama bowed down before Saudi, Chinese emperors. Will Trump fall in line? Taming of Trump already begins.
    Surely by this August 15 Modiji can say no to DC, Beijing and Riyadh. Can’t he?

  6. @##$@@@#$% says:

    No matter what the US says about Pakistani terrorists it does nothing but create media headlines in India. The fact is the american establishment is still unfriendly to India. Take for example when
    1- US CENTCOM chief General Votel says that India must not go on diplomatic offensive against Pakistan despite serious provocations as it will harm American interests in Afghanistan and America must stand with Pakistan at the expense of Indian interests.
    2-US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley says that India must start negotiating on Kashmir but does not utter a word about terrorism originating from Pakistan and killing Indian soldiers and civilians.

    Americans want us to take care of Pakistani interests in Afghanistan and Kashmir at the expense of our own national interests and behave like a “responsible” nation. What a great strategic partner.

    in the end we must grow a spine and defend our core interests no matter what the cost.

  7. raja says:

    Mcmaster talking to …bluffmaster! Do we have MOAB equivalent?

  8. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    Re. &^%$#@! – “I’ve heard from sources that are usually considered reliable that certain sections of the Indian private sector companies are being actively dissuaded from working on key projects (notably the LCA etc…). This is naturally to stop any derailment of the antique F-16 procurement by the LCA. With 3 LCA lines in parallel operation, there would not be any necessity for buying the F-16.”

    Former chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) R K Tyagi in the video linked a few essays back by BK mentions the #3 option where a third LCA line is opened for a total of 32 pa (8+8+16) and which is not being done in favour of F-16 or F-35. With a home grown product there is no limit to what can be achieved both in terms of numbers and quality.

    Remember the 2014 promise of USD 12 billion to Indian private sector, should they get into making LCA. That offer too was an – all show & no go – as is usual, by now with all the Indian Govts. be it UPA or NDA. All the chalis chor who had messed up LCA for years were allowed to live happily ever after. All the while foreign suppliers had been active invariably hiring ex-armed forces officers to key organisational positions. It is anybody’s guess if they get hired for their techno-commercial-skills or for their daru-party-networking-skills. Add to that the tribute paying propensity – is yaar ko yeh diya to us yaar ko woh dena banta hai. In such circumstances which idiot in private sector will want to get his katch-baniyan mortgaged, to live forever thereafter, on the handouts of these people.

    Only option is to ban imports and take the chinese route to defence manufacturing – local tech, local people, local money with imports restricted, even if done at premium to items absolutely essential.

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