Given its unwillingness to act against terror groups targeting India, particularly the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the US must reconsider its military assistance to Pakistan, said Nicholas Burns, former under secretary of state and South Asia expert. “Pakistan has the capacity to act against the terror groups that target India. It is a difficult task, but it can do it,” he said, participating in a discussion on India-U.S. relations at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Alyssa Ayres, senior fellow at CFR, agreed with Mr. Burns and added that Pakistan’s argument that it was doing the best it can against terror groups was not borne out by its actions.
In a joint statement with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently, U.S. President Barack Obama had appreciated Pakistan’s counter terror measures. The statement had also said Pakistan was acting against the LeT.
The CFR discussion was on a report by a task force of 16 experts that argues that U.S. and India must follow a ‘joint venture’ model in their bilateral relations, as opposed to the conventional model of strategic alliances. Mr. Burns was a member of the group.
“A treaty alliance with India is never possible. India continues to follow non-alignment in a different way,” Mr Burns said adding that it would be unrealistic for the U.S. to expect India to take and change positions along with it. “Indo-US relations can never be like the U.S.-Germany or U.S.-Japan relationships,” he said.
“Because India does not seek an alliance with the United States and closely guards its policy independence, U.S.-India relations will not resemble those Washington has with its conventional allies,” the report said, and argued for the ‘joint-venture’ model “focused on a slate of shared pursuits on which interests converge — and with clear mechanisms for coordinating and managing the known and expected disagreements.”
The report identifies four specific areas for joint ventures: the cyber domain, global health, climate change and clean energy, and democracy. “In cyber security and in global health, India has advanced technical capabilities and large, highly capable talent pools with experience working seamlessly with American partners, as has been demonstrated in the private sectors of IT and medical industries.”
The report argues “a rising India offers one of the most substantial opportunities to advance American national interests over the next two decades.”
Noting that India has overtaken China as the fastest growing major economy and that over the past ten years India has lifted more than 130 million people out of poverty, the report said: “If India can maintain its current growth rate, let alone attain sustained double digits, it has the potential over the next two to three decades to follow China on the path to becoming another $10 trillion economy.”
The report also gives the warning that if India misses the current opportunity, it may be left behind and also specifically flags the point that India needs to get more proactive on trade and become part of global supply chains. “With Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s prioritisation of economic growth and foreign policy revitalization, the country now has a window of opportunity to either make the necessary reforms or risk being left behind,” the CFR said.
“[India] will have to decide whether it wants to become a major part of global trade flows and deeply integrated into global supply chains. Doing so would boost India’s efforts to grow its manufacturing sector and its economy; choosing not to will make that ambition harder to achieve,” says the report.
The report calls for India to improve its relationship with Pakistan and the U.S. extending its troops commitment in Afghanistan beyond the current deadline of 2017.