As a piece of theatre, ‘Howdy, Modi’—Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Houston last week—was an unqualified success. US president Donald Trump stood alongside as Modi took barely veiled potshots at Pakistan and its support of terrorists. (Trump also stood alongside Pakistani PM Imran Khan the next day and reiterated the trust he has in Khan.) Perhaps this forced bonhomie was Trump’s attempt to show how qualified he is to intercede in the Kashmir issue. The event also served to mask recent trade tensions—Trump has described India as the “tariff king”, and US senator Lindsey Graham, who reportedly has Trump’s ear on matters South Asia, has described India’s tariffs as “the worst”. Still, the optics had value, if only to underline India’s confidence and global significance.