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Trump-Modi: New Found Love

Muhammad Ali Baig
Has Modi’s steep inclining and band-wagoning towards America the best possible option for India? Why Washington needs New Delhi for the fulfilment of its Pivot to Asia Policy? Isn’t that India making a huge mistake by jumping into the U.S. trap? Why and how PM Modi’s recent visit to U.S. will be the beginning of a new era of destabilization in the South Asia and Asia-Pacific? Why PM Modi embraced President Trump in such a manner as if an ‘infant hugging its father’? And above everything, what will be the implications of Modi’s recent visit to U.S. for India’s relations with Russia, China and Pakistan? After coming to power in 2014, the most recent was Modi’s fourth visit to America and his first meeting with President Donald Trump. ‘The Butcher of Gujarat’ was banned to enter the American soil before him being elected the Prime Minister of India in 2014. PM Modi visited Obama in September 2014, September 2015 and June 2016, and met Trump in June 2017.
India had always envisaged to be a great power and asserted that it was a great power in itself. It was the very reason that PM Jawaharlal Nehru along with Josip Tito of former Yugoslavia, Sukarno of Indonesia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, laid down the foundations of Non-Aligned Movement. The so-called non-alignment of India continued throughout the Cold War and overtly it leaned towards the USSR. The collapse of Soviet Union in 1991 forced India to look for new friends in the West. U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush opened up the way for India to come close to America. While, Obama continued this posture towards India and with its Pivot to Asia Strategy in 2012, New Delhi became the new ‘blue-eyed boy of Washington’. Before that, U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement was signed in March 2006, between President Bush and PM Singh.
India concluded Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the U.S. in August 2016, primarily to facilitate U.S. Military to maintain a check on China. By the virtue of this defence pact Indo-U.S. militaries would be able to use each other’s facilities for refuelling and spare parts. Similarly, India annually conducts ‘The Malabar Naval Exercises’ along with Japan and the U.S. to focus on anti-submarine warfare – apparently to counter Chinese Navy in the Pacific and Indian Ocean. These two military-centric approaches are actually serving U.S. interests, not India’s.
India due to its vast geography from Indian Ocean to the Pacific and war-driven animosity towards Communist China is a perfect bait to be used by the U.S. The American planners see the growing cooperation between Pakistan and China as a threat to its national interests. Since, the U.S. has been able to significantly put pressure on China by increasing its military presence in the Pacific. China, in its counter-move has opted for its One Belt One Road (OBOR), ‘String of Pearls Policy’ and various economic corridors including the most important one – China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a part and parcel of Belt and Road Initiative. While, on the other hand the action space for India is squeezing, due to its recent boycott of Belt and Road Initiative Forum held in May 2017, in China.
The recent clashes at Indo-Chinese border near the Bhutan-China-India tri-junction are clearly linked with Modi-Trump meeting. India wants American complete support against Pakistan as well as China. Interestingly, the timing of the incident is not just a coincidence but a well chalked out plan. Indian support for Dalai Lama is not in its national interest, but yet again it is done continuously to seek Washington’s affection.
China and Russia have not shown their willingness to give India a role in Afghanistan unlike Pakistan who is already onboard in the Afghan peace process. India’s inclination towards U.S. will also injure the spirit of SCO as well. With Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat’s ‘Two and a Half Front War Concept’, India is creating new enemies for itself. PM Modi during his 2016 speech at U.S. Congress said that ‘Indian activities in the Pacific are in the interests of America’; clearly these activities are not in the interests of India. Donald Trump will ‘Make America Great Again’ but this greatness will be achieved at the cost of its allies such as Japan, South Korea and India. By band-wagoning with the United States, India has clearly abandoned its hopes and aims of becoming a great power. India has to understand that if it aims to become a great power or at least a regional policeman, it has to do it while relying on its own muscles just like China. Band-wagoning with the U.S. will not only hurt its ambitions but it is greatly against the spirit of its self-declared ‘non-aligned’ philosophy. History will prove that PM Modi led India to the American trap and made its worst move ever by becoming ‘bait’ in the power politics of the great powers.

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