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Modi US Visit: TOUGH TALK, ACTION AWAITED, By Ashok B Sharma, 1 Oct, 2014 Print E-mail

Round The World

New Delhi, 1 October 2014

Modi US Visit


By Ashok B Sharma


‘Chalein Saath Saath – Forward Together We Go’ is the clarion call jointly given by the two leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama. This may enthuse many as a major takeaway from Modi’s recent visit to the US and upgrading the relationship between the two countries to a new level. Terrorism is an issue India has repeatedly emphasised that needs concerted global attention and active participation by super power US to fight its menace to the last. How far is the US sincere in dealing with it? Will it be an active partner with India in the fight against terrorism, is the big question after much bonhomie shown by the two leaders.


Even at the 69th session of UN General Assembly Prime Minister Modi sought to give top priority to the issue of terrorism. He called upon the UN to have an early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and to make the global body an effective instrument to fight the destabilising acts of non-State actors. In fact, he raised the need for reforms both in the United Nations and UN Security Council by taking into account contemporary realties. For reforms within the UN, Modi in his meeting with the Secretary General Ban ki Moon, urged he take the initiative of suggesting that countries contributing troops to UN Peace Keeping Forces should be consulted in decision-making process before the matter is put up before the UNSC.


Undoubtedly, reforms in the UNSC are urgently needed to effectively deal with the contemporary situation of conflicts and threats of terrorism. The UN should be an effective body in tackling global problems, which sadly is not a reality. To drive home his point, Modi even castigated interested powers to forms groups like G-7, G-8 and others to deal with the problems. Instead, the UN should be G-All, was his firm assertion.


Modi’s pin-pointed reference to the discrimination between “good” and “bad” terrorists might not have been liked by the US. Remember, the latter draws distinction between “good” and “bad” Taliban. The US and NATO powers support to insurgent groups trying to topple Assad regime in Syria brings into question the sincerity of world powers in fighting the menace of terrorism. Even the support to Taliban resistance during Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan was an instance of supporting terrorism to achieve political ends.


But Modi was bold in raising the question: “Are we really making concerted international efforts to fight these forces, or are we still hobbled by our politics, our divisions, our discrimination between countries and distinction between good and bad terrorists?” In an indirect reference to Pakistan and some countries in West Asia, he stated: “Even today, States allow terrorist sanctuaries on their territory or use terrorism as instrument of their policy.”  


In fact, Modi ensured to subtly hit back hard at Nawaz Sharif raising the Kashmir issue at the UN. He said that India was prepared to engage in serious bilateral dialogue with Pakistan in a peaceful atmosphere “without the shadow of terrorism”. Pakistan should engage in bilateral dialogue with India on basis of Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration that does not stipulate any involvement of a third party. Recently the dialogue process between the two countries was derailed as Pakistan chose to talk to Kashmiri separatists before the Secretary level talks scheduled in Islamabad. Modi cautioned Pakistan that raising Kashmir issue in the UN will be of no avail.


At his end, Obama has underlined the need for continued comprehensive global efforts to combat and defeat terrorism, including joint and concerted efforts to dismantle safe havens of terrorists and criminal network, disrupt all financial and tactical support for networks like Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, D-Company and the Haqqanis. Obama has also urged Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice. Will US really walk the talk?


India had raised the issues of maritime security, cyber security, security in outer space apart from its homeland security. The 2005 Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship was renewed for next 10 years and both the countries agreed to reinvigorate the political-military dialogue and expand its role to serve as a wider dialogue on export licencing, defence and strategic cooperation.


It has been decided to set up a Task Force to expeditiously evaluate and decide on unique projects and technologies aimed at enhancing India’s defence industry and military capabilities. US agreed to cooperate in setting up of National Defence University in India. Both the US and India agreed to upgrade the existing bilateral Malabar naval exercise. Expressing concern over the rise of China in Asia-Pacific, both India and the US agreed to work closely with countries in the region through consultations, dialogues and joint exercises. India-Japan-US trilateral will be raised to the level of foreign ministers.


However, playing to Modi’s homeland security concerns, Obama pledged to help India counter the threat of improvised explosive devices with information and technology. India is eager to purchase US-made mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles.


Following the success of India’s Mars Mission, NASA-ISRO Mars Joint Working Group has been set up under US-India Civil Space Joint Working Group. Besides, there are other agreements such as setting up of India-US Investment Initiative, Infrastructure Collaboration Platform, development of Ajmer, Vishakhapatnam, and Allahabad as smart cities by US industry as the lead partner, support to 500 Cities National Urban Development Mission and Clean India Campaign, modernizing Indian railways, skill development and reinvigorating the higher education dialogue.


Modi has been successful in attracting huge crowd at Madison Square and Global Citizen Festival where he marketed his “Make in India” concept well. He also impressed upon the CEOs of Boeing, KKR, BlackRock, IBM, GE, Goldman Sachs, Google, Hospira, Pincus, Citigroup, MasterCard, Cargil, Pepsico, Caterpillar, AES, Merck and Carlyle group and Indian Americans to invest in India. However, it is to be seen how much of investment will pour into India. Further, Modi’s plan to give visa-on-arrival to US citizens may have drawn cheers from the Americans but back home there is a lingering fear that it could cause major problems. If persons like David Hadley would decide to visit India what would the Government do?


At the end of his visit, Modi and Obama signed a joint statement and Vision Statement for US-India Strategic Partnership and both jointly wrote an editorial in Washington Post expressing concerns over the threats of terrorism. But it is to be seen how sincere the US will be in cooperating with India in fighting terrorism. The editorial indeed reads: “The true potential of our relationship has yet to be fully realized.” ---INFA


(Copyright, India News and  Feature Alliance)

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