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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Will Modi and Bharat’s Investment with the US Pay off given Trump’s eccentricities?


As Prime Minister Modi embarks on a visit to USA to meet President Donald Trump, a lot seems to be on the plate of both the countries. Off late, since NDA come to power at the centre, Modi has invested a lot in its relations with the U.S, even at the expense of Russia (Bharat’s old & trusted ally) which has since shown its displeasure by cozying up to China & Pakistan and even supplying arms to Pakistan. But looking at the Bharat-US story, terrorism could be on the main menu of the Trump & Modi rendezvous at the White House.

Islamic terrorism has rocked Europe with great intensity and the recent attacks in London & Paris have only lent more gravity to whole situation as it are the American allies who are at the receiving end of Islamic jihad.

America has been the biggest supplier of arms and equipment and financial assistance to Pakistan over the years, and the latter has diverted a large part of that aid and ammunition in abetting, aiding, nurturing and fuelling terrorism in Kashmir and across the LoC. Until 9/11 happened, the word ‘terrorism’ seemed alien to Americans and they associated it with far away third world countries; so it was natural for successive governments of America to be lackadaisical and casual to the complaints and admonishing of Bharat with regard to the terrorist activities being fomented by Pakistan across its borders.

When Osama Bin Laden was traced to the Pakistani city of Abbottabad where he was residing in secure oblivion, and killed by American marines, Pakistani’s ugly face as an abettor and harbinger of the father of all terrorists was exposed before the world. That made America sit up and take notice and impose partial sanctions against Pakistan. But the American aid to Pakistan continues and it remains to be seen if Prime Minister Modi can force president Trump to exercise his clout in imposing stricter sanctions on Pakistan and handing over international terrorist Hafiz Saeed to Bharat who is undergoing a sham trial in Pakistani courts.

Prime Minister Modi should also tell President Trump in no uncertain terms that just as America reserves its right to strike anywhere in the world to safeguard its national interests and boundaries, Bharat also has a right to protect its citizens and borders if they are challenged and threatened in any way, even if it means entering the enemy’s territory.

On his campaign trail and even after being elected, Trump indulged in China bashing and advocated ostracizing Chinese goods.  But things have changed since, and Trump attended China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) propaganda blitz and has been eating out of Xi Jin Ping’s hands in an attempt to control a rampaging North Korea.

 Bharat boycotted the OBOR as it infringes upon its sovereignty since it proposes to go through PoK which is Bharatiya territory occupied by Pakistan, and (OBOR) brings to the fore China’s hegemonistic designs in the region. It is highly unlikely that America will side with Bharat on OBOR even through it is facing similar hegemony by China in South China Sea, but that should not stop Modi from raising the issue forcefully and convincingly if only to get America’s and Trump’s perspective on an issue which is of very strategic interest and sensitive to Bharat.

It is pertinent to note here that in 2016 when the US invited Bharat to a joint naval patrol in South China Sea, the offer was rejected by the then Defence Minister Manohar Parikar, so it will be interesting how the US reacts to Bharat’s opposition to OBOR.

It would also be interesting to see how America views Bharat vis a vis the former’s interests in Afghanistan and keeping China at bay. If the US views Bharat as a strategic player in promoting and safeguarding the former’s interests in Asia & keeping China’s hegemony at bay then Trump could go all out to please Bharat because the US has always dealt with nations keeping its own interests paramount.

Giving credence to this theory are reports that the US has cleared supply of 22 drones to Bharat just ahead of Modi’s visit. Bharat will be the first receipent of these drones outside NATO and this could herald a new dawn in Bharat-US relations.  H1/B1 visa issue, where both countries are at loggerheads, and the Paris climate agreement which has been trampled upon by Trump levying charges against Bharat of siphoning US money – which have since been rebuffed and refuted by Bharat – are major areas of disagreement. But given Trump’s recent eccentricities Modi should be prepared for the unpredictable.

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Aman Gupta
Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine


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