China’s interest in South Asia, a natural outcome of its regional security concerns in its sensitive underbelly and its very close relations with Pakistan, is unpalatable for India which considers South Asia as its exclusive domain.
These Indian sensitivities will keep the US on the edge. To assure them that India was in its own league in South Asia and of America’s growing closeness, Secretary Clinton spent four days in India in July but refrained from a stop over in neighboring Pakistan.
In a geopolitically sensitive region, where the US has to cater to important bilateral interests with China, even-handedly deal with a Pakistan whose cooperation in Afghanistan is key to its success, and which is increasingly angry over repeated American betrayals, and keep the Taliban and Pashtun sensitivities in mind while negotiating a exit deal with them, the tendency to throw tantrums on the part of Indian leadership could make the new partnership difficult to sustain.
Therefore, before rushing into a collaborative arrangement with India and offering highly sensitive nuclear technologies, the US will be well advised to first test out the prickly world of relations with New Delhi
Despite tall claims about being the biggest democracy, India remains high on the list of human rights violations and has a long way to go in ensuring equal social status to Dalits (also called the untouchables) who form 20 percent of the population. It has been repeatedly accused of ethnic and religious cleansing of minorities.
If the US could make a political issue out of Tiananmen Square and Obama could refer to human rights issues during his China visit, why India should not be held to the same standard during Singh’s visit.
As for the Indian request for a permanent seat on the Security Council, it is important to bear in mind that India itself is involved in Kashmir dispute pending before the Security Council and whose Resolutions it has refused to implement. At the bottom of the dispute is the issue of exercise of the people’s will in determining Kashmir’s final dispensation. The dispute has led India to fight three wars with Pakistan and one with China. India has stationed several army divisions in Kashmir to subjugate the people and independent sources have confirmed killings of thousands of unarmed Kashmiris and sexual abuse perpetrated on thousands of women by these security forces.
In response to a similar bid earlier, India was advised to first settle the Kashmir dispute. Then the US -India relationship had just begun to take shape with limited US influence over India. But now that the US enjoys a greater clout, it could more effectively pressure India for a negotiated settlement, which is in every one’s interest, as well as in the interest of peace.