Archive for August, 2008

Big Picture, telltale Clues : Indo-USA relations.

7 August 2008

Seeds of ‘international Jihad’ were sown in 1980-88, when the ideological father of present incumbent in office was the US president. Exotic weapons & support material from Ronald Reagan liberally flowed through a trusted ally Pakistan riding on the extreme fundamentalist interpretation of Islam taught by obliging Mullahs & military training provided by ISI – the CIA analogue of our neighbour. Religion was married to virulent terror to serve US design to fight a proxy war in Afghanistan against Soviet army. Intoxicated Jihadis spilled out of special purpose madrassahs with Koran in one hand & Kalashnikov in the other with a single minded devotion to destroy the infidel. Taliban was born. When Soviet army was brought to its knees & massive economic problems back home made it leave Afghanistan, Taliban was initially engaged in a local fratricidal war for dominance. Once successful, this hardened army of Jihadis became unemployed. Money & material supply from USA dried up too.

Pakistan cleverly diverted US supplied ‘assets’ meant for proxy war in Afghanistan to simultaneously aid Sikh militancy of Bhindranwale in Punjab. When Soviet Army left, the now unemployed Taliban fighters were redirected at India for realizing Pakistan’s old obsession – Kashmir. India had been crying hoarse at every opportunity how terrorism at home was fomented & aided from across the border. Safe sanctuaries & training camps operated in Pakistan under professional supervision of ISI & Army. ‘Terror Institutes’ established a decade earlier on western border had now moved east where ‘emerging markets’ were. It would be foolish to think that Pakistan’s US handlers were unaware of what was going on in the 80s & 90s. Probably they smiled & winked at ISI & looked the other way. Why would US be unhappy when it considered India too close to Soviet Union to its comfort?

Since containing ‘evil empire’ & ‘red menace’ till 90s was the centre piece of US foreign policy, Pakistan was a useful ally in the subcontinent. When Chinese broke away from Soviet Union in the 60s, in less than a decade Nixon called on China in 1974. It was same China with whom they had fought a war in 50s in Korean peninsula. Befriending China was a strategic decision. China was to play a bulwark against Soviets. That it also clandestinely helped Pakistan in its nuclear weapons program was conveniently ignored Then Soviet Union collapsed. Foreign mercenaries, among who was Osama Bin Laden, that were encouraged to join Taliban to fight the infidel now became jobless & restless. 9/11 happened. Blowback of US foreign policy of 80s & 90s had scorched her in 2001. Seven years down the line rethink was inevitable. Pakistan was politically always unstable. In Pakistan as elsewhere, democratic USA had invariably supported military dictators who were ready to do its bidding. But today Pakistan has become a highly fragile state. Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan. China has grown to be a major economic & military power from being a backyard manufacturing hub for US consumers. It is aggressively securing oil, copper, iron, food, in fact everything it needs from Africa to South America and in between. Serious fight for resources is on hand for USA from most populous nation on earth. USA is desperate for a new ally in Asia. She needs an ally of respectable size & strength, who can help her in ‘stabilizing’ Afghanistan & Central Asia while providing a ‘counterweight’ to China. Emergence of India as the outsourcing powerhouse for US software & high tech industry has converged commercial interests in both countries. Business lobbies in both are working overtime to persuade their governments to work in tandem in every field. It is a fortuitous event that would aid USA’s shift in foreign policy. Foundation of this embrace was lead with “New Framework for US-India Defense Relationship (NFDR)” signed by Defense Minister Pranav Mukherjee on 28 June 2005 & “India USA Peaceful Nuclear cooperation Agreement (123 agreement)” inked on 18 July 2005 by Manmohan Singh, just within 20 days of each other.

Now see the sequence of events. Indian embassy in Kabul is bombed by terrorists on 7th July 2008. Hamid Karzai accuses Pakistan’s complicity. India points fingers at ISI. USA is a silent spectator. Trust vote triggered by 123 agreement barely squeezes through parliament on 22nd July. It is only on 31st July USA breaks silence thus : “Pakistanis aided attack in Kabul, US officials say”. Same day Bush is reported to have asked of visiting Pakistan PM Jilani, “Who is in control of ISI?” It was as if USA was waiting to see if India is falling for its game plan & becoming a willing ally before taking a stand against fallen ally Pakistan. New York Time reports : “American officials said that the communications were intercepted before the July 7 bombing, and that the C.I.A. emissary, Stephen R. Kappes, the agency’s deputy director, had been ordered to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, even before the attack. The intercepts were not detailed enough to warn of any specific attack.” “The information linking the ISI to the bombing of the Indian Embassy was described in interviews by several American officials with knowledge of the intelligence. Some of the officials expressed anger that elements of Pakistan’s government seemed to be directly aiding violence in Afghanistan that had included attacks on American troops. Some American officials have begun to suggest that Pakistan is no longer a fully reliable American partner and to advocate some unilateral American action against militants based in the tribal areas” Are these random coincidences or carefully orchestrated & delicately nuanced events to influence public opinion.

Ample opportunity exists to read between the lines even in purely Indian context. Amar Singh has never fought shy of his closeness to Amitabh Bachchan or Anil Ambani. His flamboyant persona in fact loves limelight. Even while his party was in a transition phase to switch sides on 123 agreement, he was already going to town demanding tax on windfall profits by petroleum companies. Those in the know deduced that real target of his attack is Mukesh Amabni – party to a bitter sibling rivalry. He was already making known from where the pound flesh is going to be extracted for SP’s opportunistic support. Trust vote over, Amar Singh has scored once again for his friend. Reliance Capital has managed to gatecrash the fund managers party, which government has thrown open to private companies for the first time to manage incremental accretions of INR3000 billion to Employees Provident Fund (EPF). It is a curious aside that while this fund accretion is being allocated to managers in inverse relation to fees charged, the fees collected by 4 participants are reported to be same. Can we still remain oblivious to the nexus both within & without?

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