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November 24th, 2009
06:28 PM ET

In AfPak, India is the real prize

President Obama hosts Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a state visit Tuesday at the White House.

President Obama hosts Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a state visit Tuesday at the White House.

Fareed Zakaria | BIO
CNN Anchor, “Fareed Zakaria – GPS”

Barack Obama has been criticized for kowtowing to the Chinese and the Russians over the last few months. But so far, this is all about atmospherics. The administration has not made any unilateral concession of substance to either country. It is taking a strategic view that developing strong relationships with both countries, particularly China, will yield long-term benefits. Strangely, however, that strategic focus has been lost in dealing with Asia's other rising giant, India.

At one level the administration is being extremely friendly. India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh comes to Washington this week for the first official state visit of the Obama presidency. There will be toasts and celebrations and many nice words said in public about the ties between the two great democracies. But underneath this lies an unease about the state of the relationship.

Indian officials worry that the Obama team does not have the same fundamental orientation as the Bush administration regarding India's role in the 21st century. Some Obama officials publicly criticized the nuclear deal championed by George W. Bush, a deal that the Indians regard as basic recognition of their status as a major power. They worry that a Democratic administration could succumb to protectionism. They worry that it is too cozy with China.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • India • President Barack Obama
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. F.Dave

    Farid is right on the money once again. Gen. Stanley McChrystal is right about Pakistan being upset at increased Indian influence in Afghanistan. But, look at what they did to a sovereign state in the last 18 years? They colonized Afghanistan, ruled it in proxy by terrorists and fanatics like Taliban and Al Qaeda that resulted in 9/11. All this was in their quest of chasing the mirage of strategic depth against India.

    Will Afghans ever like Pakistan, who were/are responsibile for death and destruction, Or like India, building schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and helping the Afghan Govt. create democratic infrastructure and institutions?

    The question is not what Pakistan’s strategic objectives are in Afghanistan. But whether US is going to stop being taken for a ride, and tell Pakistan to help exterminate the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda, which are the real US strategic objectives, while friend India assures peace at Indo-Pak border.

    Best regards

    Note: Please feel free to amend suitably.

    November 25, 2009 at 3:37 am |
  2. Deepa

    I completely agree with it.

    November 24, 2009 at 11:05 pm |
  3. Deepa

    I completely agree with it

    November 24, 2009 at 11:04 pm |
  4. Joe

    I agree with the statement in this article that the Obama administration does not have the same orientation as Pres G.W. Bush. That must change for the following reason. It is only a matter of time that India rises to a superpower status not based on exports but based on mastering new and emerging technologies. The fact remains that India is plagued by poor infrastructure, unsanitary living conditions with most of the population living below the poverty line. However, the un-noticed fact is that there are more engineers and technology graduates in the nation than any other country.

    The economic imbalance or disaster as you may choose call it can be overcome is several ways. One way for sure is to bring another revolution in applied sciences and technology that changes workflow and everyday lives. I think India will be in the forefront of bringing in that new age and the United States should cease that opportunity for its use than feeling uneasy or being threatened by it.

    In a few words, with or without the help from the United States, I feel that the young and largest democracy will continue to grow to a global superpower status.

    November 24, 2009 at 2:32 pm |