USA dilemma over balancing strategic partnership with India, a "country of concern"?

ajtr

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The story of us


While the inaugural high level strategic dialogue between India and the US is a welcome move towards advancing the bilateral relationship, it would be unwise to expect the two-day deliberations to change too much.
Firstly, neither country is yet clear in their own mind about the extent of its strategic partnership, even though the leaders committed them to this partnership as early as January 2001, and initiated the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) in January 2004, agreeing to expand cooperation in three specific areas: civilian nuclear activities, civilian space programmes, and high technology trade. While President Bush took a bold and successful initiative on the nuclear front, progress on the other two has been very slow, with some minor and inconsequential changes made to relax the export control licensing process for India. The NSSP was declared closed by 2005.

The US has a range of classifications for countries with whom they have, or do not have, relations. First of all, there is NATO — that is, very close allies. Then there are the MNNAs — major non-NATO allies — a list of 14 countries that enjoy some, if not all the exemptions from the Arms Export Control Act available to NATO members. Then there is a list of six countries designated by the US State Department as terrorist-supporting countries. There is, further, another classification — friendly foreign countries — designated by the defence secretary for purposes of authorising joint defence R&D programmes. Finally, there are 12 lists of "countries of concern" maintained by various US government agencies in addition to a classified list of "countries of concern" maintained by the State Department. India reportedly figures in at least five of the 12 lists, plus the State Department's classified list. So how does one balance a strategic partnership with a "country of concern"? The US does not seem to have resolved this dilemma satisfactorily, resulting in some issues continuing to bedevil bilateral relations.

India, for its part, is also quite ambivalent about the "strategic" partnership. During the intense national debate on the India-US nuclear deal, the government went out of its way to assure the Opposition that the India-US strategic partnership/agreement was an ordinary one, emphasising that India had such agreements with a large number of countries. In fact, while India had registered some dismay at Pakistan being designated a MNNA in 2004, there was no doubt that there would have been consternation had the US chosen to designate India as a MNNA as well!

One casualty of this mismatch between intention and practice in both countries has been the stalling of some issues of concern. India for its part had strong expectations that post-NSSP, the US would make changes to its export laws and relax licensing norms to India.

The US administration's uncertainty about the degree of strategic partnership has resulted in continued application of stringent export control laws in respect of India as well as maintaining the "entity list" at the same level for the past six years even though both matters have regularly featured in bilateral talks at all forums, including the high technology cooperation group meetings — of which seven have been held so far, without any success. At the joint meeting with Secretary Clinton on June 3, India's external affairs minister once again brought up the subject, saying "Another key area of our bilateral dialogue is cooperation in high technology. I am glad that we are working together to pave the way for liberalising export control restrictions that are applied to India. Given the strategic nature of our partnership, and particularly at the conclusion of the civil

nuclear initiative, these controls are not only anomalous but also a hindrance to furthering trade and investment in this particularly significant sector of our economies. We look forward to early steps in this direction."

For its part, India's inability to fully work out the contours of its strategic partnership with the US has inhibited it from undertaking some steps that may have made it easier for the US to respond to India's demands on the high technology export front. While India has been quite firm in demanding removal of entities, removal of licensing requirements etc, it has been slow in enacting/implementing some of the changes required in its own export control laws. India, for instance, is yet to announce a Munitions List, in harmony with the Wassanaar List, even though India wants the relaxation of licensing in respect of high technology dual-use items. Again, while it does have an export control law, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, the implementation of that act has been indifferent at best. Both Indian and US actions have to go hand in hand, but there has been little progress on coordinating these, stalling things on the high-technology front.

Strategic partnership, at the least, would require that both partners understand each other's security concerns, and not act contrary to those concerns, if not always in full support. India has, often and in strong terms, expressed its concerns vis-à-vis Pakistan. The US administration and Congress have equally expressed their security concerns vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear programme. Unless both countries respond in a more meaningful manner, it is unlikely that much progress will be made, though individual programmes like the Nuclear Liability Bill, the entry of foreign universities into India etc. will make headway, over time. Hopefully, by the time of the next strategic dialogue in India next year, the two sides, especially the two bureaucracies, would approach the issues in a constructive manner rather than revisit past positions.

The writer is visiting fellow, Insitute of Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi
 

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India expects action, not words

Obama and Clinton should spend less time making speeches and more time delivering
Gulf News Published: 00:00 June 6, 2010
A high-level meeting loaded with potential was hijacked by inane speechmaking and the efforts of US President Barack Obama to trump his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with slick wordplay and soaring rhetoric at a reception hosted by her for her Indian counterpart, S.M. Krishna.
This is what makes the efforts of the US to cultivate a relationship with India so superficial. Words of praise and eloquent quotes at a high-level meeting of dignitaries are insincere when one party constantly plays a balancing act in a game that has little regard for truth and is based on shifting realities and perceived through a prism of self-interest.
The sceptics will remain underwhelmed by the president's smart wordplay because the US must give India tangible proof that there are going to be specific deliverables in this "mutually beneficial" relationship. So far the former has fallen short in keeping its part of the bargain — the initiation of the nuclear deal notwithstanding.
There is limited engagement in the area of counter-terrorism, a few Indian science and defence entities are still facing sanctions and Washington is reluctant to endorse India for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. This is a one-way street that goes the US way.
 

ajtr

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David headley's case will be clear cut example of usa's malafide intention towards india and it gonna be main stumbling block for any indian leadership to trust usa in future.

Another clear cut example of dog &pony show by usa pertaining to 26/11 investigation just like pakistanis .....Its either usa who learnt this dog and pony show from pakistan or its vice versa..

Did Headley refuse to answer Indian team's questions?
NDTV.com - Submitted: 17 hours ago
Headley interrogation - According to reports in the Mail Today newspaper, Headley has refused to answer their questions and repeatedly told them he has invoked the 'Fifth Ammendment'. Headley has said, "Following the advice of my lawyer, I am invoking, with respect, my right to the Fifth Amendment and say no further in this matter." » Full Story on NDTV.com
Kept our promise, given India access to Headley: US
ndia has been given access to David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani-American Lashkar operative who has confessed to his role in the Mumbai attacks, US National Security Adviser James Jones said on Saturday.

"Yes, access (to Headley) has been given. This is an ongoing process and I don't have any detailed information that will be helpful except to say that it is in the hands of right professionals from both countries," said Jones. "We have fulfilled our commitment," he said.

Just recall this article by B.Raman...

THE HEADLEY INTERROGATION CHARADE ---- B Raman.
4. The immediate follow-up which they insisted upon from Pakistan to protect American lives, they did not concede to India to protect Indian lives. Headley was arrested by them in the beginning of October, 2009. It has taken them eight months to grant access to the Indian investigators. Even the access which they have now agreed to give after a delay of eight months is a limited one. During this delay of eight months, the LET would have been able to cover up its trail in India, withdraw from India those of its cadres whose identities were known to Headley and reorganize and relocate its sleeper cells.

5. The Indian investigators, it has been reported, will be allowed to question Headley in the presence of his lawyer and an official of the FBI. Do you call this interrogation? What is interrogation? It is not just questioning a person and typing out his replies. It is much more than that. It is a psychological process by which you make the suspect contradict himself by confronting him with evidence which you have been able to collect independently. Ultimately, he realizes the game is up and comes out with the truth.

6.With Headley's lawyer and the FBI officer sitting there all the time, will the Indian investigators be able to do it? No. Headley will just give proforma replies to the Indian questions and these replies would have been rehearsed with his lawyer and got approved by him. Of what use, his proforma replies? Will we be able to prosecute him in India? If we decide to do so, will the US extradite him to India?

7.The departure of the Indian team to the US just before the Strategic Dialogue and the appearance of Mr.Obama at the State Department to talk to the Indian delegation is meant to prevent this issue from casting a shadow on the dialogue.
Some comments from posters....

Recall initially they said plea bargain etc and would not give India access to David Headley/Daud Gilani. Its interrogation etc. Now they are forced to acknowledge that a bilateral treaty does have weight than local law. So even if India doesn't gain info from David Headley/Daud Gilani, India does establish the principle of primacy of bilateral treaty over local laws. With respect to Pakistan their non-state actors wont get relief from taking the plea bargain option as they will get to be interrogated by India even if its with witness, lawyer etc.

As for India the lesson is to be vigilant and rein in the David Headlies/Daud Gilanis irrespective of their passports.
Extradition or not, US 5th amendment or not, simple logic dictates that if the US wanted to give us access, we would have had it months ago. For example, US could have given immunity to Headley if he gave up his Pakistani handlers to US and India.

Plea bargains, in fact, are written such that the sweet deal received by the defendant cannot occur unless the prosecution is 100% satisfied that he is cooperating.

The whole Headley saga reeks of malafide intentions by USA. If it is matter of protecting DEA sources, that could have been arranged as part of dealings between friendly powers. However, USA also wants to protect Pakistani officers and thus the whole song and dance.

USA has a lot to hide, Headley was their man before he became double and then triple. There are more such Headleys in India. Unfettered access can provide some leads to Indians. More importantly there is the need to protect Paki Khakis, it is part of the deal to get them to commit to US plans in AfPak.

India and Indian lives are expedient for the USA. Quite understandable. Indians only wish and hope that at least for the GOI, India and Indian lives are valuable. That is not asking for much, just expecting the GOI to do its natural and rightful duty. Hope this access will at least provide a straw for GOI to get to the bottom of things to the best of their ability.

Let us see. The unfloding events will teach us at its hour.

Indeed. This is as clear an indication as any that USA wants to hold certain cards against India close to its chest.
The US is currently protecting a man who functioned as one of the masterminds of a terror attack in India which killed about 170 people. They are doing it knowingly and callously, hiding behind selective letters of the law. India should never forget this in our dealings with the Americans.How come he did not invoking 5th Amendment when the Americans questioned him ? Besides, did not the plea bargain require his cooperation with Indian investigators also ? Would not the refusal to answer Indian investigators amount to annulling the plea bargain ?
 

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