US president’s Donald Trump’s presence at Howdy Modi rally has come as a major foreign policy coup for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The rally has set the stage for the PM’s all-important US visit during which he will be meeting Trump again and also delivering a speech at UN General Assembly on September 27. Incidentally, the PM’s Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan has similar engagements in US. He will also be speaking to UN General Assembly on September 27 during which he has declared his intention to raise Kashmir. But Howdy Modi event has altered the tenor of these big upcoming events. Now their likely drift seems to be more in India’s favour than earlier envisaged. And this was in evidence during Trump’s speech at Howdy Modi rally. He said America will continue its fight against radical Islamic terror. The statement must be music to Indian ears. For they once again announce to one and all, the new strategic alliance between India and US and more or less waning relationship with the cold war partner Pakistan – the recent warmth in ties notwithstanding. For all its improvement in the recent weeks, the truth remains that the US has been forced to work with Pakistan more by compulsion than by choice. Washington no longer sees Pakistan as important for its strategic goals in South Asia.
It is important for the US to please India due to the latter’s growing geo-political profile as an international and regional player. America desperately needs to enlist India as an ally given its need to check the impending rise of China as a global power and a US rival on the world stage. China throws down gauntlet to US dominance of world affairs that is not only military and economic in nature but also ideological. China offers the world a system of national and international governance that is fundamentally opposed to the US-led order. This makes India, the world’s largest democracy, critically important to US. This bolsters US-led international order.
This makes for a compulsive strategic rationale for US-India closeness. There is an equally compelling transactional rationale too. India offers a vast market to US economy, so vital for the job creation in US. On the contrary, Pakistan remains important as long as it aids US goals in Afghanistan. And once that objective is served, Washington can once again be expected to turn its back on Islamabad and get more close to India. This state of affairs presages a new cold war like situation developing in the region, and this hardly bodes well for the peace and stability. Far from any progress towards the settlement of the long running disputes, these are likely to continue and worsen further. Such a situation calls for introspection in Kashmir too. We should know that in the evolving high stakes geopolitical game, Kashmir doesn’t matter and its resolution takes a back seat.