IN the recent India-China stand-off, the US has clearly sided with India. Though the US president Donald Trump has talked of being in touch with both the countries and helping them out in his recent tweet, Washington has left no one in doubt as to where its sympathies lie. Thd US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has on two separate occasions attacked China and blamed it for “escalating the border tension with India.” He even described the Chinese Communist Party as a “rogue actor.” What is more, he extended his deepest condolences to the people of India for the loss of 20 soldiers as a result of the recent confrontation with China. The US has also offered to help India in the confrontation with China but New Delhi has been restrained in receiving it for fear that it may further complicate the ongoing stand-off. Beijing has also warned India against involving the US, which it increasingly sees as an implacable rival on the global stage. In a sense, China’s intrusions in Ladakh has brought into sharp relief the evolving geopolitics.
It announces 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 the 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.
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. More so, following the Coronavirus pandemic that has sent the world economy into a tailspin. 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. And Kashmir will be one of them.
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