India’s support crucial to counter Islamist militancy: US think tank

April 2nd, 2009 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 2 (IANS) As the US seeks India’s crucial support in countering the threat of Islamist militancy, a leading US think tank says the Manmohan Singh-Obama meeting would demonstrate the US resolve to enhancing ties with New Delhi.

But India “will remain on guard as Obama moves forward in implementing US policy in South Asia”, Stratfor, a global intelligence company, said in an analysis as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama met Thursday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in London.

“Besides giving Pakistan something to chew on, Singh’s sit-down with Obama allows the United States to demonstrate its resolve to enhance ties with India, a power whose support is seen by Washington as crucial in countering the threat of Islamist militancy.”

Although India and the US have good reason to want to strengthen their strategic partnership, the Indians are not completely comfortable with Obama’s South Asia agenda, Stratfor said.

Thus “India will enjoy its moment in the global spotlight at the G20, but New Delhi will remain on guard as Obama moves forward in implementing US policy in South Asia”, it said.

Though New Delhi and Washington may not see eye to eye on how to manage the economic crisis, the US has a strategic interest in giving India the attention it seeks on the global stage during this summit, the intelligence group said.

“With a jihadist war raging in Afghanistan and spreading deep into Pakistan, the United States and India are united by the common threat of Pakistani-propagated Islamist militancy.”

Noting that a “mixed carrot-and-stick approach of financial aid and threats of unilateral US covert action on Pakistani soil has thus far had mixed results,” Stratfor said: “One pressure tactic that will always get Islamabad ’s attention, however, is the United States’ dealings with Pakistan’s biggest foe, India.”

The US will use the Indian pressure card against Pakistan when necessary, but it needs to maintain a healthy relationship with New Delhi for this strategy to make a strong impact on the Pakistanis, it said.

The Indians want to work with the United States, but they are not big fans of Obama’s Afghanistan strategy, Stratfor said.

Apart from concerns over the US plan to provide Pakistan with $1.5 billion per year in non-military development aid for five years as well as $2.8 billion in military aid, India is not in favour of the US strategy to reach out to “moderate” Taliban.

“In New Delhi’s mind, the potential return of a fundamentalist Islamist regime with an anti-Indian agenda represents a core national security threat to India,” Stratfor said.

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