- Current policies of the US
- Significance of the move to India
- Important shifts India needs to make
Need for increasing Maritime domain of India
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US President Trump is on his visit to India recently. Among many other important deals and decisions, the need for increasing US-India cooperation beyond Asia-pacific and Gulf to the western frontiers rearises.
Current policies of the US:
- US is slowly withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan and downsizing of the American security role in the Gulf region.
- The US aims to focus more on the great power competition with Russia and China than the small wars that had preoccupied it over the last three decades.
- Trump has been cutting down military commitments in the Middle East and Africa.
- His officials are about to sign an agreement with Taliban that provides for American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
- On the maritime front, Trump has called on all major powers, especially those importing oil from the Gulf, to contribute to the security of shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
Significance of the move to India:
- Afghanistan-Pakistan region and the Gulf are vital to India’s economic, political and military security and for affirming India’s maritime presence and security role.
- This decision of US will alsomark the end of an important era in India’s northwestern frontiers — both land and maritimeand India’s ambition to play a larger role in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
- So, India should focus on seizing the possibilities for expanding India’srole in the western marches of the Subcontinent.
Important shiftsIndia needs to make:
1. Dynamics of relations between US-Pakistan:
- India must overcome the belief that the US-Pakistan relationship is unchanging.
- Over the last two decades, there has been a tilt in US policies away from Pakistan and towards India.
- The incidences supporting it are: US pressures on Pakistan to vacate the Kargil heights in the summer of 1999 under the Clinton Administration.
- An exclusive nuclear exemption to India under the Bush Administration and efforts to rein in Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism during the Obama years.
- Trump acknowledged that Pakistan is part of the problem in Afghanistan and turned up the heat on Pakistan’s support for terrorism.
- He has supported India’s efforts at the UNSC to designate Masood Azhar as terrorist by UNSC, isolate Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force, prevented the UNSC from discussing Kashmir.
- Delhi should focus on expanding its own security cooperation with the US in the troubled lands to the west of India.
- Though Pakistan was an important ally for the Anglo-American powers in South West Asia. But Pakistan’s leverage in Washington is likely to decrease as the US decreases its presence in Afghanistan and the Gulf.
2. Prepare for a larger security role in Afghanistan:
- India needs to prepare itself for a larger security role in Afghanistan.
- Trump has been asking a simple question: If India is next door to Afghanistan, should it not be doing more for Afghan security?
- The NDA government has increased security assistance to Kabul.
- As Afghanistan enters a turbulent phase, regional and other powers are bound to fill the vacuum left by the US.
- Hence, India can’t sit idle and should exploreoptions between doing nothing and sending the Indian army into Afghanistan that Delhi and Washington could discuss.
3. Increase naval activity beyond present areas:
- India has already stepped up its naval activitywithin the Gulfand beyond as part of its emergence as a regional security provider.
- It knows that its effectiveness will rise manifold if it acts in concert with the US and other partners
- Modi and Trump could begin by laying the political foundation for such cooperation.
At the beginning of Trump’s term, there were speculations concerningIndia-US security cooperation in the eastern Indian Ocean and the Pacific, but progress has been steady. It is high time the countries should strive to extend India-US security cooperation beyond the regionto thewestern frontiers.