Visit of Pres­i­dent Obama – and be­yond

SP's MAI - - MILITARY -

[ By Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd) ]

It can safely be said that the re­cent visit by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to In­dia has taken the Indo-US strate­gic part­ner­ship to a level never achieved ear­lier. It is not only be­cause he was the first US Pres­i­dent as Chief Guest at the Repub­lic Day pa­rade, but be­cause the shared vi­sion and the agree­ments be­tween the two gi­ant democ­ra­cies were un­prece­dented. The nu­clear deal ly­ing in cold stor­age for more than six years was gal­vanised, signed and sealed. Pres­i­dent Obama used his ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers to waive the is­sue raised from the US side to track the nu­clear ma­te­rial be­ing pro­vided. The sec­ond is­sue of nu­clear li­a­bil­ity that In­dia wanted was re­solved by go­ing in for in­sur­ers of­fer­ing ` 750 crore ca­pac­ity for the nu­clear pool, with rest to be footed by the gov­ern­ment; both op­er­a­tors and sup­pli­ers would be pro­vided as cover against as­so­ci­ated risks. The pro­posed nu­clear risk pool that will be set up in In­dia will have five gov­ern­ment-owned in­sur­ance com­pa­nies (Gen­eral In­sur­ance Cor­po­ra­tion of In­dia, New In­dia As­sur­ance, Ori­en­tal In­dia In­sur­ance, Na­tional In­sur­ance and United In­dia In­sur­ance) pro­vid­ing half the ca­pac­ity for the ` 1,500-crore pool. Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in his state­ment at the joint press in­ter­ac­tion with Pres­i­dent Obama, said the civil nu­clear agree­ment was the cen­tre­piece of the In­dia-US trans­formed re­la­tion­ship, demon­strat­ing new trust. That all this was pos­si­ble be­cause of the bon­homie be­tween the two lead­ers and be­cause of the ini­tia­tive taken by Prime Min­is­ter Modi was very ob­vi­ous.

Pres­i­dent Obama stated that re­la­tion­ship with In­dia is im­por­tant to the US in the 21st cen­tury and that In­dia’s rise was in the US in­ter­est. High­lights of the joint state­ment is­sues on Jan­uary 25 re­lat­ing to de­fence and se­cu­rity were: both coun­tries pledged to con­tinue to en­hance co­op­er­a­tion across the spec­trum of hu­man en­deav­our to bet­ter their cit­i­zens’ lives and that of the global com­mu­nity; en­dorse­ment of a new In­dio-US Delhi Dec­la­ra­tion of Friend­ship, build­ing on their joint Septem­ber 30 Vi­sion State­ment; recog­nis­ing roles both coun­tries play in pro­mot­ing peace, pros­per­ity, sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity in Asia-Pa­cific and the In­dian Ocean re­gion (IOR) – an­nounc­ing a Joint Strate­gic Vi­sion to guide their en­gage­ment in the re­gion; joint con­duct of NASA-ISRO Syn­thetic Aper­ture Radar (NISAR) mission; joint De­fence Pol­icy Group and sub­groups to pur­sue stronger and ex­panded bi­lat­eral de­fence co­op­er­a­tion; sign­ing of the In­dia-US State­ment of Guiding Prin­ci­ples on Tri­an­gu­lar Co­op­er­a­tion for Global Devel­op­ment; break­through on is­sues re­lat­ing to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the WTO Trade Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Agree­ment; US-In­dia Joint Com­mis­sion Meet­ing on Science and Tech­nol­ogy Co­op­er­a­tion for ad­vanced co­op­er­a­tion; MoU be­tween In­dian Re­new­able En­ergy Devel­op­ment Agency Ltd. and the Ex­port-Im­port Bank of the US, mak­ing avail­able up to $1 bil­lion for ex­panded co­op­er­a­tion; In­dia-US Po­lit­i­cal Mil­i­tary Dia­logue to ex­change per­spec­tives on bi­lat­eral strate­gic and re­gional is­sues; launch of In­fra­struc­ture Col­lab­o­ra­tion Plat­form to pro­mote en­hanced mar­ket ac­cess and fi­nanc­ing; ex­pert ex­change on counter-IED strate- gies and tech­nolo­gies; con­ven­ing of ICT Work­ing Group and sign­ing of Joint Dec­la­ra­tion of In­tent to ad­vance im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Dig­i­tal In­dia pro­gramme; Knowl­edge Part­ner­ship in de­fence stud­ies; con­clu­sion of two project an­nexes be­tween the In­dia’s Depart­ment of Atomic En­ergy and Depart­ment of Science and Tech­nol­ogy, US Depart­ment of En­ergy to dis­cover science co­op­er­a­tion in par­ti­cle ac­cel­er­a­tor and high en­ergy physics; MoU to en­hance co­op­er­a­tion to com­bat money laun­der­ing; fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the 2015 Frame­work for the US-In­dia De­fence Re­la­tion­ship; sign­ing of the In­dia-US Re­search, Devel­op­ment, Testing and Eval­u­a­tion (RDT&E) Agree­ment to fa­cil­i­tate co­op­er­a­tion in de­fence R&D; con­tin­u­ing bi­lat­eral en­gage­ment on the De­fence Tech­nol­ogy and Trade Ini­tia­tive (DTTI) to pur­sue co-pro­duc­tion and code­vel­op­ment of four pathfinder projects in­clud­ing shar­ing air­craft car­rier tech­nol­ogy and de­sign, and ex­plore co­op­er­a­tion on devel­op­ment of jet en­gine tech­nol­ogy, and deepen co­op­er­a­tion in mar­itime se­cu­rity and con­tinue US-In­dia col­lab­o­ra­tion in hy­drol­ogy and wa­ter stud­ies, and mon­soon mod­el­ing.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, both lead­ers reaf­firmed the need for joint and con­certed ef­forts to dis­rupt en­ti­ties such as LeT, JeM, D Com­pany and the Haqqani Net­work, agree­ing to con­tinue ef­forts through the Home­land Se­cu­rity Dia­logue and the USIn­dia Joint Work­ing Group on Counter Ter­ror­ism. The US-In­dia Joint Strate­gic Vi­sion for the Asia-Pa­cific and In­dian Ocean re­gion among other things calls for: pro­mot­ing ac­cel­er­ated in­fra­struc­ture con­nec­tiv­ity and eco­nomic devel­op­ment to link South, South East and Cen­tral Asia in­clud­ing en­hanc­ing en­ergy trans­mis­sion, en­cour­ag­ing free trade and greater peo­ple-topeo­ple link­ages; af­firm im­por­tance of safe­guard­ing mar­itime se­cu­rity and en­sur­ing free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion and over­flight through­out the re­gion, es­pe­cially in the South China Sea; call on all par­ties to avoid the threat or use of force and pur­sue res­o­lu­tion of ter­ri­to­rial and mar­itime dis­putes through all peace­ful means, in ac­cor­dance with uni­ver­sally recog­nised prin­ci­ples of in­ter­na­tional law, in­clud­ing the UNCLOS, and; re­solve to op­pose ter­ror­ism, piracy and pro­lif­er­a­tion of WMDs within or from the re­gion.

That Pak­istan ap­pears rat­tled and China con­cerned with the de­vel­op­ments dur­ing the visit of Pres­i­dent Obama to In­dia is ob­vi­ous. Nawaz Sharif has re­port­edly hur­riedly dis­patched a let­ter to Prime Min­is­ter Modi stat­ing Pak­istan wants good re­la­tions with In­dia, seek­ing sim­i­lar dia­logue with Prime Min­is­ter Modi. But then, it is well known that the power is not with Nawaz Sharif but his mil­i­tary. The state pol­icy of ter­ror­ism has brought Pak­istan to such mess that by May 2014 it was al­ready un­der cu­mu­la­tive debt to IMF and oth­ers to the tune of $90 bil­lion, the in­ter­est re­pay­ment alone amounts to $22,000 per hour or $5,50,000 per day. The new Trans­for­ma­tion Indo-US Strate­gic Co­op­er­a­tion Part­ner­ship is sure to fa­cil­i­tate ‘Make in In­dia’ in the de­fence in­dus­try and el­e­vate In­dia’s de­fence po­ten­tial. It is to be seen if Pak­istan will mend her ways, give up the proxy war for her own bet­ter­ment of Pak­istan and the re­gion or choose to heighten it cash­ing on with­drawal of Af-Pak from the re­gion.

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