Strength­en­ing Indo-US Re­la­tions

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - [ By Lt Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Kapoor]

At Wash­ing­ton D.C.

The meet­ing of Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh on Septem­ber 27, 2013, with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has evoked con­sid­er­able in­ter­est in In­dia re­gard­ing its de­liv­er­ables. TV an­chors and strate­gic an­a­lysts, by and large, were of the view that noth­ing much was go­ing to emerge from this third bi­lat­eral sum­mit be­cause even the US is aware that par­lia­men­tary elec­tions are due in 2014 and Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh’s ma­noeu­vrable space is lim­ited due to do­mes­tic pol­i­tics. How­ever, not­with­stand­ing the crit­i­cism at home let us ex­am­ine the is­sue of de­fence co­op­er­a­tion which has re­ceived a fairly large space in the Joint State­ment by both the lead­ers.

The Joint State­ment re­ferred to the in­creas­ing and more in­ten­sive bi­lat­eral de­fence co­op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing trade and mil­i­tary ex­er­cises. The lead­ers en­dorsed a Joint Dec­la­ra­tion on De­fence Co­op­er­a­tion as a means of en­hanc­ing their part­ner­ship in de­fence tech­nol­ogy trans­fer, joint re­search, co-de­vel­op­ment and co-pro­duc­tion. As per the Joint State­ment Pres­i­dent Obama en­cour­aged the fur­ther par­tic­i­pa­tion of US firms in part­ner­ing In­dia’s ef­forts to en­hance its de­fence ca­pac­i­ties. How­ever the Joint State­ment does not clar­ify the con­text of the two of US manda­tory tech­nol­ogy safe­guard agree­ments which threaten to ad­versely im­pact the trans­fer of ad­vanced equip­ment and tech­nolo­gies. In­dia’s hes­i­tancy in con­firm­ing the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions In­ter­op­er­abil­ity and Se­cu­rity Mem­o­ran­dum of Agree­ment (CISMoA) and the Ba­sic Ex­change and Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment for Geo-spatial Co­op­er­a­tion (BECA) fore­closes the op­tion of the US trans­fer­ring ad­vanced avion­ics and com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment, satel­lite nav­i­ga­tional aids and other ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies. There­fore such hur­dles have to be crossed be­fore we can move for­ward on the tech­nol­ogy trans­fer and th­ese is­sues re­quire res­o­lu­tion. More­over if the de­fence co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment was to take care of pro­ce­dural prob­lems why was no se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the MoD present with this del­e­ga­tion? The ba­sic ques­tion which re­mains unan­swered is: “Is the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) on board with this agree­ment?” Un­der US law both the above-men­tioned pacts need bi­lat­eral con­fir­ma­tion to en­sure client com­pli­ance with sen­si­tive tech­nol­ogy con­trol trans­fers. In the past In­dia has looked upon all such agree­ments with the US ‘cau­tiously’.

Kan­wal Sibal, the for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary, has con­cerns with this agree­ment be­cause of its ad­verse im­pact on In­dia’s re­la­tions with Rus­sia who has sup­plied more than 70 per cent of the cur­rent equip­ment held by the three ser­vices and has given sen­si­tive tech­nolo­gies such as the nu­clear sub­ma­rine and BrahMos mis­sile.

Meet­ing with Nawaz Sharif

Most an­a­lysts and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers of op­po­si­tion par­ties, es­pe­cially the Bharatiya Janata Party, were not in favour of the In­dian Prime Min­is­ter meet­ing the Prime Min­is­ter of Pak­istan at this stage when the de­vel­op­ments lead­ing up to the meet­ing – es­pe­cially the vi­o­la­tions of the line of con­trol (LoC) – had pro­voked the op­po­si­tion par­ties and the peo­ple in In­dia, to mount con­sid­er­able pres­sure on him to call it off. How­ever, Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh, de­spite the pres­sures, went ahead with the meet­ing. He ap­pre­ci­ated that the aim of the at­tack­ers was to de­rail the talks and there­fore stood his ground. How­ever, be­ing sen­si­tive to the re­cent LoC de­vel­op­ments he in­sisted with his coun­ter­part to rein in the hard­line el­e­ments within Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary es­tab­lish­ment so that peace and tran­quil­lity could be main­tained along the LoC. This, he stressed, must be the first step to ad­dress other is­sues in­clud­ing trade, a lib­eral visa regime, Si­achen, Sir Creek and Kash­mir, and the re­cip­ro­cal prime min­is­te­rial vis­its.

Af­ter the re­cent Samba in­ci­dent in Jammu re­gion, it had be­come clear that the planned meet­ing was in jeop­ardy, but hav­ing com­mit­ted to the meet­ing, a can­cel­la­tion was not de­sir­able. Hence both lead­ers met and stated their piece and de­cided to leave the mat­ter of LoC in­ci­dents to their re­spec­tive Di­rec­tor Gen­er­als of Mil­i­tary Op­er­a­tions (DGMOs) to sort out through mil­i­tary diplo­macy. How­ever, this is not go­ing to be easy be­cause the in­ci­dents on the LoC are part of the larger pic­ture which in­volves res­o­lu­tion of the Kash­mir prob­lem which is a po­lit­i­cal is­sue. More­over, the ter­ror­ist camps across the LoC in Pak­istan oc­cu­pied Kash­mir are sup­ported by the Pak­istan’s In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence (ISI)/ mil­i­tary and rein­ing in the ter­ror­ists and dis­man­tling their in­fra­struc­ture will re­quire po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue and hard bar­gain­ing fol­lowed by mil­i­tary pro­ce­dures on the ground to en­sure peace and this can­not be done through mil­i­tary diplo­macy alone.

Dr Man­mo­han Singh meet­ing Prime Min­is­ter of Pak­istan

Nawaz Sharif in New York

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