November 13, 2010

BALOCHISTAN: United Against Arab Sheiks

http://www.thebalochhal.com/2010/11/editorial-united-against-arab-sheiks/


Almost all mainstream political parties in the province have complimented Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly, Mohammad Aslam Bhootani, for taking a firm and principled stance against the alleged sale of 70,000 acre land to Arab sheiks in the coastal region of Balochistan. The Speaker had revealed in a rare press conference that the Balochistan government was under constant pressure from the Prime Minister House in Islamabad to endorse a summery, which is currently pending at the Revenue Department, to provide huge areas of land to the Arabs.

While Bhootani does not belong to a nationalist party, he has gained tremendous backing from Baloch nationalist parties that have assured him full and timely cooperation on the matter. Senator Abdul Malik Baloch, the central President of the National Party, spoke to the media in his party office in Turbat and admired Bhootani for bringing up the issue to public notice. Senator Malik said he would protest on the floor of the Senate against the plot to sell the Baloch land. He was reported as saying that no one should assume that Balochistan lacked leaders to guard its territorial integrity. “Balochistan is not orphan,” he said, “we will fight for it.”

Senator Malik Baloch pointed out that Islamabad was greedily aspiring to grab land in Balochistan under varying pretexts. Previously, similar attempts were made to deprive the people of Balochistan of their lands under the excuse of constructing a port in Gwadar. Later on, Pakistan Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guards also expressed their desire to acquire land in Balochistan’s coastal areas.

“Instead of selling the Baloch land to Arab sheiks, the federal government should make efforts to provide facilities to the local farmers to work on these huge areas of land,” suggested Malik, whose National Party has a strong influence in Mekran region.

Balochistan’s largest nationalist party, the Balochistan National Party (BNP), has reacted to the news in a very harsh tone and warned, “anyone who eyes the Baloch resources will get his eye taken out by the ‘honorable’ and “brave”Balochs”. In a media statement, Dr. Jhanzaib Jamaldini, the acting central President of BNP, said BA Speaker Bhootani had proved himself as a “real son of the soil” by raising the issue in a press conference before it was too late.

Insisting that the people of Balochistan had not been taken into confidence in a number of significant developments during the previous government, the BNP has demanded the cancellation of agreements signed with Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) and companies operating at the multi-billion Sandak and Reko Diq projects.

“The Federal government is acting on an anti-Baloch policy,” alleged the BNP president,”Islamabad is trying to sell Balochistan to foreign forces, multinational companies and Arab sheiks. We’d like to warn the federal government to give up the hostile policies of the previous governments towards Balochistan. Otherwise, every Baloch knows how to take out those eyes which are set to capture our resources.”

We admire BNP and NP for supporting Aslam Bhootani over his brave stance instead of playing routine party politics. The newly emerged issue does not necessarily pertain to a single political party nor does it have to be related to those who believe in parliamentary politics or independence of Balochistan. All stakeholders in the province should get together to make sure that no foreign force manages to secretly acquire land in Balochistan.

The increasing influence of Arab countries in Pakistan and particularly in Balochistan is a matter of dire concern. It is regrettable, though not puzzling, that right-wing political parties like Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and Jammat-e-Islami (JI) assemble thousands of people and issue regular statements to resist the “American presence” on their “sovereign land” but they do not utter a word about the Arab influence. What are the objectives, intentions and designs of the Arab countries in Balochistan? The people of Balochistan must be informed.

Mark Steyn, the author of America Alone: The End of World as We Know it, once rightly remarked that the principal export of Saudi Arabia was not oil but ideology. Some Arab countries are pumping huge amounts of money in Balochistan to radicalize the Baloch society and counter the progressive nationalistic movement. Steyn also observed that the Arab countries were the only ones which met both the ends of the Bush Doctrine. They were among the friends as well as the enemies. While some of the Arab sheiks love to send their kids to Europe and America to get “western education”, they keep sending hefty amounts in backward societies like Balochistan to promote radical version of Islam. Thus, we are today confronted with a rising generation of radicalized youth.

Balochistan Chief Minister Raisani is in fact an equal culprit in providing space to the Arabs as he recently announced to introduce Arabic language from the next academic year in all schools of Balochistan.

Political parties and the civil society in Balochistan must unite to fight common threats for the greater welfare of the province.


Obama visit: A testament to Indo-US partnership

Satish Chandra

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/112608/obama-visit-testament-indo-us.html

Whether the two leaders addressed threats posed by Pakistan and China remains a mystery

While President Obama’s three-day visit to India was an indisputable success, the extent to which it was leveraged to address the threat posed to us from Pakistan and China remains a question mark.

The leadership and bureaucracies on both sides are to be complimented in ensuring that the visit was rich in the variety of agreements and understandings arrived at. Indeed, Obama himself indicated that more agreements were concluded during his India visit than during any other visit undertaken by him. These covered nearly every conceivable area of national activity ranging from agriculture to space, from higher education to defence, from energy to health, from trade to counter insurgency and from high technology to the promotion of a nuclear weapon free world. While none of these, on their own, were as important as the nuclear deal, but taken together they demonstrate that India-US relations have been taken to a new high and have become extremely broadbased.

One of the more important positives from the visit for India was the assurance that ISRO, BDL and DRDO, along with many of their subsidiaries, would be removed from the entities list, and that India would be treated like close allies in regard to clearances for import of sensitive equipment and materials. Acceptance of this long standing demand will enable our industry, hitherto starved of state of the art US technology, materials and equipment to access the same more easily.

Equally significant was the US readiness to seek to propel India on the international scene as a global player. This was evidenced by the indication that it would be supportive of India’s membership of export control regimes like the NSG, MTCR, Australia group and the Wassenaar Arrangement, and that it looked forward to India being a permanent member of a reformed UN Security Council. While India’s entry into these bodies will take time, US support will obviously help the process. Membership of the export control regimes will enable India to be a part of their rule setting mechanism for export of sensitive materials, equipment and technology, and draw it into the international non proliferation architecture, thereby enhancing its stature as, of course, would a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Unconditional support

It may be mentioned that US support to us for the latter is not conditional on India’s conduct and, specifically, does not hinge on its policy vis a vis Myanmar as some made out on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the US President’s address to Parliament, where the latter in announcing his support for India’s candidature had gone on to underline the responsibilities that would come with permanent membership of the UN Security Council and mildly criticised India for having shied away from chastising Myanmar for its human rights violations. Not only is no such conditionality reflected in the joint statement but the latter is also devoid of any mention of Myanmar!

It is also gratifying that both on terrorism and Afghanistan, President Obama virtually endorsed the Indian position. While on the former the joint statement calls for the “elimination of safe havens and infrastructure” of terrorism and for bringing “to justice the perpetrators of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks”, on the latter the US side is not merely appreciative of what India has done so far but would like to see an enhanced role in close cooperation with it “to promote a stable, democratic, prosperous and independent Afghanistan”.

It is significant that the two sides agreed to deepen their strategic consultations on Central Asia, West Asia and East Asia with the President urging India not only to “look east” but “engage the east.” These assertions represent US support for a more activist Indian policy on the regional and global scene and a welcome sign of a more collaborative approach of the USA vis a vis India. This is a salutary development in the context of the more assertive positions being taken by China in the region.

Security concerns

Finally, the visit helped deepen the already very good chemistry between Dr Manmohan Singh and President Obama. The differences of nuance between the two in their joint press conference on outsourcing, dialogue with Pakistan etc are par for the course during such visits and should not be overinterpreted. Their positive body language and the very meaty India-US joint statement is ample testimony that theirs is a warm relationship based on respect and trust.

While the Obama visit was a considerable success, what is not known is the extent to which it addressed India’s concerns emanating from the threats posed by Pakistan and China. It is reasonable to assume that these threats were discussed in private. But the assessments shared by the two leaders of the nature and magnitude of these threats and how best they should be addressed will remain, and perhaps should remain in the immediate future, a mystery to the public at large. One, however, hopes that these discussions helped in promoting a closer understanding between the two leaders in this regard, and suitably sensitised the US President to our core security concerns, which have assumed a serious dimension not only because of increasing Sino-Pak collusion, but also because an India centric Pakistan Army is today being armed by both China and USA.

(The writer is former Deputy National Security Advisor and currently Distinguished Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi.)

Obama surprises India

Obama surprises India
November 14, 2010 3:13:28 AM


http://www.dailypioneer.com/296235/Obama-surprises-India.html

It was widely believed that the US President, coming to India after the disastrous mid-term elections back home, would merely act like a ‘salesman’, trying to squeeze jobs and economic benefits for Americans. He, however, proved the critics wrong. Utpal Kumar analyses the visit and finds out what made it successful

Although Jawaharlal Nehru had cordial relations with US President Dwight D Eisenhower and his successor John F Kennedy, he was regarded as anti-American. So much so that in his memoirs, Nice Guys Finish Second, the then Indian Ambassador to the US, BK Nehru, mentions how he once dared to ask him, “Your instinctive reaction to any proposal that may come from the US is to reject it, however good it may be... Why are you so anti-American?” Nehru first refused to concede this, but later said, “Maybe I am instinctively anti-American. When I was at Harrow in Britain, there was a single American boy in the school. He was very rich and the rest of us disliked him for his preoccupation with money... It may be that my negative reaction to America is because of that experience.”

Six decades later, with the arrival of a Black American President in the subcontinent, India can claim it has finally been able to shed its anti-Americanism, engrained partly by an ideology that demonises capitalism, and also due to mass ignorance that makes people see a CIA hand in almost every act of subversion!

More than a sales trip

When Barack Obama began his India visit on November 6, coming as it was after the mid-term Congressional drubbing for the Democrats, it was widely seen as a ‘sales’ trip, aimed at getting more jobs for Americans back home. From the very beginning, it was made clear that Obama wasn’t here to shower bounties on Indians; he was here to make India a ‘partner’ in a time of economic crisis. He desperately needed Delhi to curb the rising unemployment in the US, almost touching the double-digit mark at the last count.

Obama, quite predictably, started his visit from Mumbai, India’s financial capital, and on the very first day signed $10 billion worth deals — half of which concerned the defence sector. He said the deals would create more than 50,000 jobs in America.

However, by the time Obama packed his bags for his next stop, Indonesia, the visit had already turned out to be more than a sales trip, surpassing even Indian expectations. “With Obama lifting controls on high-end technology exports, India can now look forward to get more advanced versions of missiles, rockets and satellites,” says a Defence Ministry official.

The visit ensured that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) would no longer be subjected to specific licence requirements for the transfer of dual-use technologies. They were earlier placed in the Entities List, which denied them access to dual technology.

The decision opens the gates of technological collaboration between India and the US. “So far our relationship was confined to areas such as life sciences, agriculture and medicine... Now we can also work together on sensitive areas like missile development, aerospace, nanotechnology, etc,” says a DRDO official.

Security expert Raja Menon, however, believes more could have been done in the defence sector. “Why the Defence Ministry failed to leverage the Obama visit will remain a mystery, until some public-spirited citizen files an RTI to find out. The bureaucratic preparation for the visit seems particularly poor,” he says.

“The Defence Ministry has not established a consensus with regards to US defence supplies. The Indian Air Force has been quickest to get C-130J and C-17 through the foreign military sales (FMS) route. The Army, too, seems to have learnt the lesson by solving its artillery gun problem through FMS. This time, however, the Navy, which is said to be the most advanced unit in foreign cooperation, has been told they will get only Indian ships and nothing from abroad. This would have been alright had the Navy been getting all that it needed, but it is hugely deficient in naval aviation, reconnaissance, nuclear submarines, anti-submarine warfare helicopters and even landing ships — all of which are available from FMS,” Menon adds.

Support for UNSC seat

The high point of the US President’s visit was his endorsement for India to occupy a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. The American backing seems both symbolic and substantive, given the serious political obstacles that have long stalled efforts to reform the Security Council.

All the major powers have said that the post-War structure of the Security Council, in which the US, Britain, France, Russia and China have permanent seats with veto power, should be changed to reflect the changing world order. It could, however, take years for any changes to be made, partly because there is no agreement on which countries should be included in an enlarged Council. Little wonder the proposal has been on the table for 18 years and still shows no signs of getting anywhere.

Brahma Chellaney, security expert at the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi, isn’t impressed with the American proposal. “In India we tend to believe the hype. Obama’s support was so carefully worded and hedged by so many conditions that it wasn’t really a genuine assurance,” he says. PR Chari, director of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, seconds him. “All that the US President said during his speech in Parliament is that he looked forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.”

As there are no free lunches in diplomacy, Obama dropped a hint that the American endorsement was conditional on India conducting itself ‘responsibly’ as a non-permanent member of the Security Council over the next two years. He indicated that by reiterating what a character in Spider-Man says, “With increased power comes increased responsibility.”

Obama also took on India for engaging with Myanmar. The American President said that as the military junta suppresses free elections, “the democracies of the world cannot remain silent”. This is a tricky situation, as democratic ideals clash here with supreme national interests. New Delhi must guard against pressure of this kind. After all, it cannot compromise its security in the eastern frontiers by leaving Myanmar for an easy Chinese grab.

Concerned Pakistan

Any outreach to India is bound to cause ripples in Pakistan, whose Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Obama’s decision would further complicate the process of the Security Council reformation. Islamabad hoped Washington would “take a moral view and not base itself on any temporary expediency of power politics”.

There is a reason for Pakistan to get upset. After all, Obama has invited India, for the first time, to work together in restructuring the AfPak region, destabilised as it is by radical Islamism. They have also agreed to press Pakistan to end its support to indigenous terror networks. What’s more unsettling for Islamabad is the fact that such a move has come from a President belonging to the Democratic Party, historically known for its Pakistan tilt.

“The joint-statement notes the need to eliminate ‘safe havens and infrastructure for terrorism and violent extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan’, that ‘all terrorist networks including Lashkar-e-Tayyeba must be defeated’, and that the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks should be brought to justice. This is very different from the earlier American unwillingness to call Pakistan the fountainhead of international terrorism,” Chari says.

The move seems to have taken Islamabad by surprise. After all, since 9/11, the US, in the name of fighting terror, has showered Pakistan with $13.5 billion in military hardware; only last month it pledged another $2 billion for the ‘beleaguered’ nation. There is, however, a growing concern in Washington that Islamabad has diverted the aid to strengthen its air and naval capabilities needed for potential combat with India. For instance, US military aid since 2001 has more than doubled Pakistan’s fleet of nuclear-capable F-16 jets, well-equipped with missiles and laser-guided bombs. It has also tripled the number of its anti-submarine helicopters and anti-ship missiles. Before 9/11, Pakistan had 200 TOW anti-tank missiles, crucial in conventional warfare with India; now it has 5,250.

Obama’s statement to involve India in AfPak is praiseworthy. It, in a way, vindicates the Indian viewpoint that Pakistan is part of the problem, not the solution.

The China factor

The second area where India and the US have agreed to work together is in the Indian Ocean and the Asia Pacific. Unlike in the past, when India and the US worked at cross-purposes in these regions — just a year back Obama had even tried floating the idea of G2, thus urging Beijing and Washington to work closely in East and Southeast Asia — the two countries have now “agreed to deepen existing regular strategic consultations on developments in East Asia, and decided to expand and intensify their strategic consultations to cover regional and global issues of mutual interest”.

No one, however, wants to call it an anti-China axis. Even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was found gasping for words when she was asked about it. All she could say was that the US is not seeking to “contain” Beijing. China’s neighbours, too, avoid the ‘containment’ word. Instead, they prefer to call it “pre-containment” or “containment-lite” — a term articulated by Thomas Friedman.

In a recent New York Times article, Friedman quotes Christian Caryl, a contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine, as saying: “China for years was being praised by Asian experts for being so shrewd, so clever, so deft in building cultural and economic ties with all its neighbours — and outmanoeuvring the stupid, oafish Americans. But in just six months, China has cast itself in the role of bully and prompted its neighbours to roll out the red carpets for Uncle Sam.”

Chellaney agrees. “Having earlier preached the gospel of ‘peaceful rise’, China is no longer shy about showcasing its military capabilities.”

It is this growing Chinese assertion that brings India and the US together. The recent Sino-Japanese diplomatic spat in the East China Sea — followed by a Sino-Vietnamese row — has greatly discomforted the US. As for India, it has been witnessing China’s ‘string of pearls’ strategy that has significantly expanded its strategic depth in India’s backyard. “This strategy of bases and economic ties includes the Gwadar port in Pakistan, naval outposts in Myanmar, electronic intelligence gathering facilities on islands in the Bay of Bengal, funding construction of a canal across the Kra Isthmus in Thailand, a military agreement in cambodia and buildup of forces in the South China Sea,” writes defence expert Harsh V Pant in his book, The China Syndrome.

There is a growing realisation that China is no longer shy of playing a more aggressive role in international affairs. This became all the more evident from a secret memorandum issued by the director of the General Logistic Department of the People’s Liberation Army: “We can no longer accept the Indian Ocean as only an ocean of the Indians... We are taking armed conflicts in the region into account.”

An External Affairs Ministry official, seeking anonymity, says India can play the US card with China to desist it from taking an aggressive posture, much more evident in the past few months. “We can definitely threaten Beijing to mind its ways, else we would go with Americans,” he says wittingly. “China can’t afford to throw India into the American court.” He, however, agrees that there isn’t — and shouldn’t be — any plan to form an overt anti-China club.

Friedman believes the onus is on Beijing to ensure that both India and the US don’t come together. “If China plays it smart, Indian-American relations will never go beyond pre-containment. But if China doesn’t play it smart, Obama to India could one day become the new Nixon to China: My enemy’s enemy is my new best friend,” he warns.

Indian deals for American jobs

Obama signs deals worth $10 billion. This will give the US 53,670 jobs

Military aircraft

India’s purchase of 10 C-17 Globemaster-III transporter aircraft at about $4.1 billion will support an estimated 22,160 jobs. Each C-17 Globemaster will engage 650 suppliers across 44 American States. Order will support the aircraft’s production facility in Long Beach, California, for one year.

Engine sale for LCA

107 F414 engines worth $822 million for India’s light combat aircraft (LCA) are expected to ensure about 4,440 jobs in the US. General Electric Company, on October 1, was selected to negotiate the contract.

SpiceJet deal

SpiceJet has concluded a definite agreement for purchase of 30 B737-800 commercial aircraft from Boeing. The deal has been signed by the low-cost carrier at a price of $2.4 billion, and is likely to support about 12,970 jobs.

Power plant

Reliance Power signs a $750 million deal with General Electric to supply six advanced class 9FA gas turbines and three steam turbines for its Samalkot power plant expansion. GE purchases equipment from 240 suppliers across the US for every 9FA gas-fired turbine. This will support 2,650 jobs.

Mining equipment

The Export-Import Bank of the US has approved over $900 million in export finance guarantees to Sasan Power, a subsidiary of Reliance Power, supporting the sale of US mining equipment and services worth $641 million from Bucyrus International and other American vendors. This is likely to provide about 3,460 jobs.

BLF Attacks FC in Panjgur;Raisani Condemns the Blast

The Baloch Hal News

QUETTA: The Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), while accepting responsibility for a remote-controlled bomb attack on a convoy of the Frontier Corps (FC) in Pak-Iran border district of Panjgur, claimed to have killed at least eight personnel of the security forces.

However, this claim could not be varified through independent sources which said only two people had been injured in the remote control blast which took place on Saturday near Jamia Mosque in Chiktan, the district headquarter. The bomb bad been fixed with a motor cycle which was parked near the mosque. Eyewitnesses said the blast was so powerful that it also blew up two electricity pylons. As a result, the supply of electricity to half of Panjur’s population was also disrupted.
An eye-witness told The Baloch Hal that people rushed to their homes and the local bazaar was closed soon after the bomb blast. The FC cordoned off several routines and increased patrolling of the area.

Bashman Baloch, a spokesman of underground BLF, told the media that the remote control blast had been perpetrated by his organization. He contended that eight personnel had been killed in the powerful bomb blast.

Balochistan’s Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani strongly condemned the attack on the Frontier Corp (FC) saying that the security forces had been deployed in the area to protect people’s lives and property.

“Such attacks are unlikely to undermine the resolve of the security forces,” said the Chief Minister in a statement issued here the other day.

OBAMA--MANMOHAN SINGH DUET--- AS SEEN FROM BEIJING

B.RAMAN

" It is absurd to say Obama's whirlwind tour to India is a proof that the U.S. strategic focus has been shifted from Beijing to Delhi."

2. So wrote Li Hongmei, the columnist of the party-controlled "People's Daily Online" of China, in a half-serious, half-sarcastic article on the recent visit of President Barack Obama to India. The article, titled "Obama greets India with more than a lip service? ", was carried by the "People's Daily Online" on November 9,2010. The article said: " When the United States Federal Reserve's action involving $600 billion came under attack from Germany, Brazil, China and other emerging economies, accusing in chorus America of trying to devalue the dollar to the detriment of other nations' exports, Mr. Singh, however, gave it an unexpected endorsement. Seemingly, the U.S. and India are right now singing a duet, echoing each other. "

3. The text of the article is given below. ( 14-11-10)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

ANNEXURE

( Text of the article carried by the "People's Daily Online" of Beijing on November 9,2010)


Obama greets India with more than a lip service?



By Li Hongmei

US President Barack Obama finally kicked start his "biggest ever trade mission" Friday to the city of Mumbai, assuring India it is never left in the cold by the world's super power. For the long-awaited Obama moment, India had made more than enough of preparations—all coconuts removed from the trees on the US President's preset course to avoid falling on his head; dog and monkey catchers also called in to avert any "animal invasion" on his route.

Indian Prime Minister, 73-year-old Manmohan Singh, waited at the airport to greet the 49-year-old US President and his biggest ever delegation of 250 U.S. business executives, with the solitary aim---to boost US exports.

"The primary purpose is to take a bunch of U.S. companies and open up markets so that we can sell in Asia, in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world," Obama said Nov. 4 after meeting with his Cabinet at the White House.

"We are made believe India is a true ally and would never let us down", said a business executive and also a backer for the civil nuclear deal in Washington.

Indeed, a bulky deal of US$ 10 billion concluded with India and a fat prospect of job offers for more than 50 thousand Americans are what Obama needs desperately to shrug off the gloomy situation with a reservoir of domestic troubles ----the sluggish economy, a national jobless rate that has been at or above 9.5 percent for 14 consecutive months, a federal budget deficit forecast to hit $1.4 trillion, a plummeting approval rating, a downcast Congress and his recent Mid-term defeats.

What is equally noteworthy is that India is ramping up its military procurement prompted by the alleged threat from China and its ambition to lead the region, making India an attractive market for U.S. defense companies. The U.S. administrations, since George W Bush, has pinned hope on Delhi to act as the counterweight to Beijing.

The Indian government is helping President Obama make his case; and at the time, India, in the eyes of the U.S President, seems nothing but the last straw worth clutching at.

"Obama in his international globetrotting now has to show that he is creating benefits for American business," said Steven Clemons, an analyst at the New America Foundation, a Washington-based policy research group. "He is shifting from a kinder, gentler, less unilateral stance in terms of foreign policy to one where he needs to show bottom-line benefits from American engagement abroad."

Doubtless, President Obama and the first lady would cherish the common sense of returning good for good, as Indians are anxiously expecting, although not all of the U.S. favors are tangible and accessible.

Much to the delight of Indians and hailed by the Indian media, Obama reportedly alluded to what is called the "emphatic endorsement" for a permanent seat for India in the Security Council, even if he essentially handed the Indians a check that cannot be easily cashed. Also sure enough, he made the most encouraging remarks when addressing Indian college students and the public, dubbing India as a coming superpower, declaring the crackdown on Islamic terrorism in Kashmir and Afghanistan. He, too, never failed to hail India's democratic values.

The US President, like his predecessors Bill Clinton and George W Bush, also touched such topics as easing some US export controls on dual-use technology and equipment and vowed to increase cooperation in fields like energy, education, agriculture and so on.

To adequately show their goodwill to the "Asia's coming power," to which Obama pledged to expand commitment, the charming first lady Michelle Obama played hopscotch, danced and sang with disadvantaged children from the Indian charity.

Even though India cannot totally let go the worry that on the U.S. radar screen, strategic vision of India remains diminutive compared with the rivaling Pakistan, and the U.S. would still have to reach out to China while hand-in-hand with India, it seems that India would rather step much closer to the U.S. than ever.

When the United States Federal Reserve's action involving $600 billion came under attack from Germany, Brazil, China and other emerging economies, accusing in chorus America of trying to devalue the dollar to the detriment of other nations' exports, Mr. Singh, however, gave it an unexpected endorsement. Seemingly, the U.S. and India are right now singing a duet, echoing each other.

Even so, it is too early to conclude Obama would satisfy the India's expectations better and more concretely than, say, the previous Bush administration. And it is absurd to say Obama's whirlwind tour to India is a proof that the U.S. strategic focus has been shifted from Beijing to Delhi.

(The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.
Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online. After 19 years working for China Daily and its website, Li Hong moved to english.people.com.cn in March 2009. Li has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics. Graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida. )

CHINESE OVERTURES TO THE ISLAMIC WORLD

B.RAMAN

In a well-timed move to win hearts and minds in the Islamic world, China has announced the commissioning on November 13--- a few days before the Haj--- of the Mecca Metro constructed by its engineers in Saudi Arabia. The 18-km-long Metro, which has been described as the first dual track light railway in Saudi Arabia, connects Mecca with nine holy sites, including Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah. The Metro, which is estimated to cost US $ 1.8 billion, is designed to carry 72,000 passengers per hour when it is fully operational by May 2011. It can now carry 50 per cent of this number. According to the "China Daily" of November 14," this is the first cooperation project between China and Saudi Arabia after the two countries signed an agreement in June 2008 to enhance cooperation on infrastructure construction. It is also the first light rail system built by Chinese companies in the Middle East."

2. The "China Daily" had earlier reported on November 1 as follows:

"A total of 11,200 Chinese Muslims have already left China on chartered flights for the annual pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, figures released by China's State Administration for Religious Affairs indicated.

"About 13,000 Chinese are expected to take part in this year's Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) on 41 chartered flights leaving from Beijing, Lanzhou, Urumqi, Yinchuan and Kunming cities, according to Yang Shuli, assistant president of China Islamic Institute.

"Imams, doctors and government officials are accompanying each group of pilgrims.

"The first plane took off from Zhongchuan Airport in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province, on October 18. The last plane is scheduled to leave on November 4.

"China has around 23 million Muslims in more than 20 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities, according to official statistics." (14-11-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

CHINESE EXTEND VIP TREATMENT TO GILGIT-BALTISTAN C.M.

B.RAMAN

Syed Mehdi Shah, the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), who has accompanied President Asif Ali Zardari to Guangdong in China to attend the inaugural function of the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou, is being extended VIP treatment by the Chinese authorities. He is being treated on par with the other members of the Pakistani delegation, which has accompanied Zardari.

2. He was invited for a welcome banquet hosted by State Councillor Madam Liu Yangdong for the foreign dignitaries, who have come to participate in the inaugural ceremony of the Asian Games. He was also a member of the Pakistani delegation headed by Zardari which held bilateral talks on Sino-Pakistani relations on November 12,2010, with a Chinese delegation headed by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

3. The Pakistani media has reported that Syed Mehdi Shah would be separately visiting Kashgar in the Chinese-controlled Xinjiang Province, at the head of a 17-member delegation, to attend an international fair on precious stones and explore the possibility of selling precious stones found in G.B in the international market. (13-11-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

WEN TO COMBINE VISIT TO PAKISTAN WITH VISIT TO INDIA? GILGIT-BALTISTAN CM IN CHINA WITH ZARDARI

B.RAMAN



Pakistani agency journalists accompanying President Asif Ali Zardari on his present visit to Guangzhou in China to attend the inaugural function of the 16th Asian Games, have reported that during a bilateral meeting with Zardari on November 12, 2010, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao informed him that he intended visiting Pakistan in December to further “deepen the strategic cooperation” between the two countries and proposed the establishment of a mechanism for formal and structured dialogue to ensure smooth and real time communication on all issues of common interest. Wen has been quoted as telling Zardari: “ We are looking forward to establishing contacts between the political leaderships of the two countries.” This possibly refers to the establishment of a hot line between the leaderships of the two countries similar to the hotline being established between the Prime Ministers of India and China.



2. It may be recalled that Wen had informed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the margin of the recent ASEAN-sponsored East Asia summit at Hanoi that he intended visiting India in December. His visits to India and Pakistan may be combined. It remains to be seen whether he also decides to visit Bangladesh during the same swing across South Asia. His decision to visit Pakistan too would negate the belief in India after the Hanoi meeting that his decision to visit to India indicated a Chinese desire to mend relations with India.



3. Significantly, Zardari has been accompanied to Guangzhou, among others, by Syed Mehdi Shah, the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), to be present during the discussions with Chinese leaders and officials on Chinese assistance to GB. Wen reportedly announced the beginning of the second instalment of free commodity aid to the people of GB from next week. The consignment of aid would consist of diesel, coal and food articles, which will be supplied free by China as part of its aid to the flood victims in GB. It was stated that China has already donated US $ 250 million for flood relief and reconstruction besides assistance to stranded people in the upper Hunza Attabad Lake region of GB. ( My comment: This figure of US $ 250 million is the value of the total assistance given by the Chinese to flood victims all over Pakistan, including GB. It is not known how much of this has been given for GB )



4. Among others who have accompanied Zardari are Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, his son, who is the President of the Pakistan People’s Party, Malik Amad Khan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar.



5.Briefing Pakistani journalists on Zardari’s meeting with Wen, Babar stated as follows:

Both the leaders expressed their firm resolve to further strengthen their bilateral ties in economic, defence and energy sectors. Zardari noted that the two-way trade between the two countries had risen to around seven billion dollars, up from the $ two billion in 2002.

Zardari told Wen that mega-projects like Gwadar, the Karakoram Highway, and the Neelum-Jhelum Hydro-electric Plant were shining symbols of their friendship.
Zardari called for a currency swap agreement with China. He told Wen that the 14th session of the Joint Economic Commission early next month in Islamabad would enable them to review the entire range of bilateral economic relations for closer economic cooperation.
Zardari also stressed the need for enhancing connectivity by working together closely on developing pipelines, rail links and fibre optic links. He urged Chinese investment in water and energy projects in GB and the Thar coal project in Sindh and called for the setting up of a China-Pakistan Energy Corporation to institutionalize cooperation in the energy sector.

Zardari sought the cooperation and assistance of China in the reconstruction of the infrastructure destroyed and damaged in the recent floods in Pakistan.
Discussing the regional situation, Zardari said that Pakistan was committed to the peace process with India and desires to have friendly and good relations. “We sincerely wish to hold meaningful dialogue with India to resolve all outstanding issues including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.”

He said Pakistan was doing its best to help Afghanistan achieve peace and stability and suggested closer consultations between Pakistan and China on Afghanistan. Zardari said Afghanistan-China-Pakistan can promote trilateral cooperation. “We would welcome trans-regional cooperation involving economic project cooperation between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Chinese companies can use Pakistan as a logistical and transportation base for their investment in Afghanistan,” he added.


6.The Chairman of the Guangdong Automobile Industrial Group (GAIG) Zhang Fangyou called on Zardari, who reportedly directed the Chairman of the Pakistani Board of Investment Saleem Mandviwala, who had accompanied him, to stay back and discuss with Zhang the prospects of GAIG’s operations in Pakistan.



7. Zardari also had a bilateral meeting at Guangzhou with the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Zardari reportedly thanked Thailand for supporting Pakistan’s efforts to have a full dialogue partnership with the ASEAN and called for the early conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries. The total value of the bilateral trade between the two countries amounts to US $ 800 million. ( 13-11-10)



( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

November 12, 2010

BALOCHISTAN: The good doctor

Dr. Allah Nizar

By Naimat Haider

Unbeknownst to even most residents of Pakistan, the country’s military has unleashed a new phase of systemic violence upon Balochistan. The apparent reason this time around is Dr Allah Nazar, a former chairman of the Baloch Students’ Organisation (BSO), whom the military intends to ‘remove’.

The residents of Balochistan are in trouble again, and one of the leaders of the Baloch resistance, Dr Allah Nazar, is currently a hunted man. While systemic oppression by paramilitary forces, the Frontier Constabulary (FC) in particular, and disappearances and torture of citizens at the hands of intelligence agencies, has pretty much become the norm in Balochistan, Pakistan’s military has now initiated a direct ‘operation’ in many areas of the province. The direct target of state ire this time around is former BSO chairman Dr Allah Nazar, who, the military claims, is heading an armed resistance movement for the independence of Balochistan.

Ironically, this new-found belief comes only weeks after Dr Nazar publicly declared that he would ultimately prefer a book over a gun to achieve his ideals. The military, it appears, was not concerned back when the former BSO chairman used to claim that a gun was his second love. Now that he has decided to take the path of peaceful resistance, however, a military operation has been launched in his hometown – Mashkay in Awaran district – and the houses of dozens of political workers have been razed, Baloch nationalists say. According to a spokesman for the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), the militant organisation thought to be headed by Dr Nazar, troops have ransacked and set fire to the houses of people who are considered sympathetic to the Baloch cause. A number of people have also been picked up over the span of a week and have now gone ‘missing’. Dr Nazar’s relatives have been harassed by paramilitary personnel and their properties have been destroyed, according to reports appearing in local newspapers. Similar treatment has been meted out to Dr Nazar’s friend, Akhtar Nadeem, who is suspected [by the state] of being a ‘rebel’ who has accompanied Dr Nazar ‘to the mountains’ (in the Baloch national struggle, ‘taking to the mountains’ is an euphemism for joining the ranks of the freedom fighters or Sarmachar).

It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan’s federal interior minister Rehman Malik had said last month that his government would ‘use full force’ when dealing with those who had taken up arms to find a solution to the Balochistan problem. The military action in Mashkay, within a month of the interior minister’s rhetoric, perhaps indicates that the government has chosen Dr Nazar to be the first among Baloch leaders who have to be ‘removed’. Meanwhile, the federal government denies any military action in the province (as usual, one might add).

Unlike past military operations in Balochistan, however, the one in Mashkay seems to have attracted the attention of some ministers in the Balochistan government. Agriculture Minister Mir Asadullah Baloch, who is also the central secretary general of the Balochistan National Party (BNP)-Awami, insisted during a recent Balochistan Assembly session that the military operation was illegal and devoid of the provincial government’s approval. Ironically, this resistance from mainstream political parties in the province was only reported by The Baloch Hal, an online English language newspaper run by a group of Baloch journalists. According the website, Asadullah Baloch’s views were endorsed by provincial social welfare minister Mir Asghar Rind, who added that the centre of the military operation was not only confined to Mashkay, but had been expanded to some other parts of Mekran as well.

The ministers’ statements sparked protests in most parts of the troubled province, especially in the southwest Mekran division, a non-tribal belt which is considered Dr Nazar’s support base. BSO-Azad, a nationalist students’ organisation, condemned what its office-bearers referred to as an indiscriminate use of force by Pakistan’s paramilitary troops against Baloch political activists.

Boycott of ‘Pakistani media’

A shutter-down strike was called, meanwhile, by the central BSO leadership; people were also asked to boycott the ‘Pakistani media’ – mainstream Urdu-language television channels and newspapers. Hence, the transmission of all local news channels, except the Balochi-language Vsh TV, has been interrupted by cable operators, according to The Baloch Hal. ‘Urdu news channels have already gone off air,’ said Asad Baloch, a journalist from Turbat, the divisional capital of Mekran district. ‘And now Urdu-language newspapers, except a few that are published locally, are snatched from hawkers in the morning and set on fire.’

Although Baloch nationalist organisations have always had reservation regarding the way the mainstream media organisations cover the political problems of Balochistan, this boycott is the result of the failure of these media organisations to report the military operation in Mashkay. ‘Media organisations that remain indifferent towards state brutalities in Balochistan have no place in the minds of the Baloch people,’ BSO Vice-Chairperson Karima Baloch said. She added that her organisation would not allow the transmission of Urdu news channels and the distribution of Urdu-language newspapers ‘on Baloch land’ until the issues being faced by the people of Balochistan are given non-partisan coverage.

The non-violent boycott, meanwhile, seems to be serving its purpose inasmuch as officials of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have taken notice of these events and are currently trying to contact cable operators in an effort to resume the transmission of mainstream news channels, Karima Baloch says. As to how far this boycott will go in ensuring non-partisan coverage of the issues of Balochistan, however, remains to be seen.

Naimat Haider is a Karachi-based journalist. He currently works with the Karachi bureau of The News International.

Dr Allah Nazar Baloch: a background

Also by Naimat Haider

Thirty-eight-year-old Dr Allah Nazar Baloch is a former chairman of the Baloch Students’ Organisation (BSO). He took up arms to fight for an independent Balochistan after, his supporters believe, the state security apparatus did not let him work as a peaceful nationalist political worker. Widely respected, loved and followed, Dr Nazar is currently believed to be the top leader of the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), an organisation that advocates the freedom of Balochistan.

In 2002, when Dr Nazar became the chairman of the BSO, he appealed to Baloch nationalist groups to stop participating in the electoral process which, he said, was damaging the Baloch cause. Going to the parliament, he believed, was equal to legitimising Pakistan’s rule over Balochistan. Soon after, he was arrested from Quetta, but released within a short period of time after he went on hunger strike in prison.

On 17 March 2005, years after he had left students politics, he was abducted, according to him and his family, by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. Six other Baloch political activists, including the then-BSO chairman, Dr Imdad Baloch, were also picked up at the same time. Dr Nazar was produced before a court of law after going ‘missing’ for about four and a half months. He was eventually released on bail in June 2006 by an anti-terrorist court in Quetta. Amnesty International documented his case and reported that he was tortured physically – even given electric shocks – in prison.

While most of his opponents consider him a hardline ‘militant’, Dr Nazar sees himself as a political activist struggling with whatever means available to him for the Baloch cause. In his correspondence with media personnel, he has always expressed the belief that ‘militancy’ was just one of the many methods that he supported to achieve an independent Balochistan. In a recent interview with The News International, a mainstream English-newspaper in Pakistan, Dr Nazar said that while he believed both were necessary for him to reach his goal, he would prefer a book over a gun, for it was the former that guided the latter.

Presently, most Baloch nationalists, including Brahamdagh Bugti and Hairbyar Marri, consider Dr Nazar a symbol of the Baloch political struggle. Among the younger generation, meanwhile, he enjoys greater popularity than even Brahamdagh Bugti and Hairbyar Marri.

Apart from his middle-class background, the reason Dr Nazar rose to prominence is that he is the product of a political process. He joined the BSO while in college (intermediate) and became the organisation’s chairman after nearly a decade. Most Baloch leaders from the present generation were coached by him in politics and activism. His followers believe him to be a person of sharp intellect and firm beliefs, and maintain that he is a tireless political campaigner.

Other Balochistan-related pieces in Himal:

May 2007: Between tribe and country: The crisis of Balochistan by Massoud Ansari - Islamabad’s wilful inability to formulate a just and equitable relationship with Balochistan has led rising numbers of disaffected Baloch citizens to attempt a separation from Pakistan.

May 2007: A death foretold by Munizae Jahangir - For many Baloch, the turning point in the latest insurgency came on 26 August 2006, the day Nawab Akbar Bugti was assassinated.

June 2010: The question of Balochistan by Urooj Zia.


US's Pak conundrum

Barack Obama was neither forthright nor honest during his India visit, says Ramtanu Maitra.

http://www.newsinsight.net/archivedebates/nat2.asp?recno=2064

Washington, 12 November 2010: On 7 November, the visiting US president, Barack Obama, encountered a sharp question at Bombay's St Xavier's College, where a management student, Afsheen Irani, asked him: "Why is Pakistan such an important ally of the United States? Why hasn't America called it a terrorist state?" Although Obama was coached how to answer such a question, he was a bit rattled. Nonetheless, he came back saying he was expecting such a question. There was no doubt that he was expecting such a question and he also remembered how to obfuscate it. He said: "Pakistan is an enormous country with an enormous potential, but it also has extremist elements within it just like any other country." It was rather a clumsy way to hide the facts, and it was evident that it did not satisfy the student. She said so when she made clear that she never got the reply she was waiting for. "I was looking for an answer and I did not get it. I was not satisfied with what he said. He was very diplomatic." Kick India out, says Pollock On the same day, The Washington Post carried a wordy op-ed by David Pollock, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a senior State Department adviser for the broader Middle East from 2002 to 2007. The op-ed, "Our Indian problem in Afghanistan," stated in no uncertain terms that "President Obama's trip to India offers a crucial, and counterintuitive, opportunity missing in all the talk about Afghanistan: how to accommodate Pakistan's interests in that country." Pollock said: "Unless we find a way to do that, Pakistan will not stop its tolerance of, or support for, the Afghan Taliban or other extremists on its border with Afghanistan -- nor will it let us eradicate them." Pollock claimed the US and NATO are jeopardizing Pakistan's "cross-border interests". Asking a rhetorical question, what are those interests, he answered, saying, the "first and foremost, to minimize the presence and influence in Afghanistan of Pakistan's own archrival, India". He acknowledged that while India is "an increasingly important regional and global partner for U.S. foreign policy", "it is in India's self-interest to contain extremist pressures in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- and one paradoxically clever way to do that is to lower India's profile in Afghanistan. During his visit, Obama should drive home the point that such self-restraint would best serve our common interest in stabilizing the region." Pollock provided other interests of Pakistan that need to be accommodated, but those were not directly linked to India's role in Afghanistan. The reason Pollock's op-ed has been discussed here in the context of Afsheen Irani's question to president Obama is primarily to find an answer to her query -- the answer, if president Obama had been forthright and honest, would perhaps have satisfied Irani. Why Obama obfuscates Now, to answer Irani's question, I would like to make clear that there are two principle reasons why the United States will not only not identify Pakistan as a terrorist state, but will continue to pour in money to keep Islamabad happy. The first reason is that the United States, once it got into Afghanistan, cannot get out of that rat-trap without Pakistan's "help". The "help" that Pakistan is expected to extend is largely illusory, but the situation in Afghanistan is so bad that there is little else to hold on to. If Irani recalls Shakespeare's play, The Merchant of Venice, she would know the bind Washington has gotten into. The pound of flesh needs to be paid. The shylock, in this case Pakistan, will not permit the debtor, the United States, to escape. In his op-ed, Pollock was trying to formulate how else this pound of flesh can be paid. One course is to kick India, the archenemy of Pakistan, out of Afghanistan. He is urging president Obama to do so. On the other hand, if we consider president Obama was dishonest with his answer to Irani, Pollock was downright deceptive. During the nineteen-nineties civil war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, with the money bags handed out by the Wahhabi-promoting Saudi Arabia, helped to create the Taliban. Then, of course, the Pakistani military, dressed in Taliban garb, fought and defeated the Mujahedeen power-seekers. Where was India at the time? It was really not there and Pakistan's interest, if Pollock can recall, was to secure strategic depth (Hitler would call it the lebensraum) by gaining control of Afghanistan, if and when India invades and overruns Pakistan. Brushing aside the absurdity of this entirely motivated strategic depth concept touted by the Rawalpindi brass, what must be remembered is that the present Pakistan army chief, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, on whom the Pentagon is leaning heavily for the so-called help, has recently reiterated that he remains "India-centric", and that he fully endorses the importance of having control over Afghanistan in order to assure strategic depth for Pakistan. Doesn't Pollock know about this? Certainly he does, but like president Obama, he cannot tell the truth because it may complicate matters further with Islamabad. Pakistan's nuclear arsenal The second reason why the United States will never identify Pakistan as a terrorist state is because of Washington's endless worries about Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Pakistan's nuclear weapons were developed under the watch of the Americans in the nineteen-eighties when they were overly eager to get "help" from Pakistani authorities to give the erstwhile Soviet Union a black eye. Right under Washington's nose and with the money that the United States was providing to keep the jihad against the Red Army alive, Islamabad developed its nuclear weapons' capability. But Washington does not want to admit this reality, as it also refuses to accept the other reality, which is that Pakistan will not "help" the United States to eliminate the terrorist assets it has developed, come what may. But Pakistan's nuclear weapons are a subject of serious concern in Washington because of two reasons. First, if the United States further antagonizes Pakistan, the nuclear weapons will go under the control of Beijing. That would be, in essence, like handing over Pakistan to China. The second worry of Washington is that if it antagonizes and weakens the Pakistan army, the weapons may fall into the hands of the jihadis, who consider the United States a very important enemy. In other words, if the jihadis get hold of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, Washington will face their wrath, perhaps more than the others will. So why antagonize Pakistan? Why not appease Islamabad with the "hope" that the Pakistan army will remain in control of its nuclear weapons; that those weapons will not be handed over to China, a potential rival of the United States; and that the jihadis will not get their hands on those weapons to test them on Washington and its allies. I do not know whether such answers would fully satisfy Afsheen Irani, but I do know that president Obama resorted to providing her an inane answer because the reality is too painful. Briefly speaking, US policy towards Pakistan is in ruins, but no one out there has the courage to say so. They are afraid that if they say as much, the situation in that part of the world could get mighty rough.

Ramtanu Maitra is South Asia Analyst with EIR News Services Inc in Washington DC.

Cloud, Mobile Computing Raise Security Fears: Study

The report, titled Borderless Security, indicates that while there is a commitment to protecting data, many organizations remained concerned about their ability to face advanced, persistent threats against their corporate infrastructures.

“The combination of more mobility, increased social access to information and outsourcing to the cloud requires a change in traditional information security paradigms,” says Jose Granado, security practice leader for Ernst & Young’s Americas practice.

“The ‘outsiders are now the insiders,’ meaning people and organizations outside the borders of the traditional corporate environment play a role in helping to achieve information security objectives, but can also pose a risk to protecting your information.”

The report, based on a survey of 1,600 senior executives in 56 countries, found that 60% perceive increased risk from the use of cloud computing, social networking and personal mobile devices at work. Additionally 64% of respondents see data protection as one of the top IT risks in the current environment.


Cloud, Mobile Computing Raise Security Fears: Study

Between India and the U.S., a defining partnership

Lydia Polgreen


The long and complicated relationship has veered from warm embrace to uneasy frostbite to reconciliation.

– PHOTOS: AFP/THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

EVOLUTION THROUGH THE YEARS: In Indo-U.S ties, ‘it is the personal equation that is important.' U.S President Barack Obama with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in New Delhi in November 2010,

Three decades and two oceans stand between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. But on a dais in New Delhi after a joint news conference on November 8, the two men, neither known for his social ebullience, were inseparable: the youthful, lanky American President's arm firmly fixed on the older man's shoulder, with Mr. Singh grinning widely and his arm wrapped tightly around Mr. Obama's waist.

More than once during his three-day visit Mr. Obama called the relationship between India and the United States “the defining partnership of the 21st century.” But the relationship between the two men has evolved into something of a friendship as well. Mr. Obama has called Mr. Singh his guru, and on November 8 Mr. Singh called Mr. Obama “a personal friend and a charismatic leader who has made a deep imprint on world affairs.”

Cold War to reconciliation

The long and complicated relationship between the United States and India has veered from warm embrace long before independence to the uneasy frostbite of the Cold War to the reconciliation of recent years, built on shared democratic and multicultural values and a desire to balance the influence of a rising China.

But even as broad historical forces have shaped the relationship, a personal bond appears to be forming between the leaders of the world's two largest democracies, who developed an easy rapport in their numerous international meetings and have now thrown state dinners for each other on reciprocal visits.

“The personal equation is very important,” said Ronen Sen, who until last year was India's ambassador to the United States.

Down the ages

President Dwight D. Eisenhower had a warm regard for India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. When the President went to India in 1959, the two visited villages together in a convertible, and Eisenhower was greeted by adoring crowds everywhere he went.

Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, who became Prime Minister in 1966, easily charmed President Lyndon B. Johnson that year on her first visit to the United States. He found the elegant, youthful woman irresistible, overstaying so long at a meeting at the home of Gandhi's cousin that he had to be invited to dinner.

Mrs Gandhi had notoriously noxious relations with President Richard M. Nixon. But when she and a newly elected President Ronald Reagan met in Cancun, Mexico, at a summit meeting on international development, they hit it off, to everyone's surprise. Mr. Reagan invited Mrs. Gandhi for a state visit, and she took him up on it.

The personal link

“In the height of the Cold War, because of personal chemistry, India and the United States managed to create a thaw in their frozen relations,” said Lalit Mansingh, a former foreign secretary and ambassador to the United States.

The Hindu nationalist party of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India's Prime Minister from 1998 to 2004, had a centre-right ideology that fit well with that of President George W. Bush. The two men eventually began negotiating an agreement that would end India's nuclear exile.

Bush and Singh cemented that deal in 2005.

“They got on extremely well,” said Mr. Sen, the ambassador to the United States at the time.

At first glance it seemed to be an unlikely bond between the informal, back-slapping Mr. Bush and Mr. Singh, a reserved academic 14 years his senior. But Mr. Bush's deep interest in India impressed Mr. Singh, said officials who observed the relationship closely.



President Lyndon B. Johnson and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in Washington in 1966.

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, an Indian journalist who has written a book about relations between the United States and India, said he, too, was surprised by the rapport between the two men and had asked Mr. Singh about it. Mr. Singh replied that he appreciated Mr. Bush's straightforward nature.

“He said he was a very warm and human person,” Mr. Datta-Ray said.

The Obama visit

Mr. Singh set tongues wagging when he told Mr. Bush, after a White House meeting, “The people of India love you deeply.” That Mr. Obama and Mr. Singh have found common ground is perhaps less of a surprise. Both are better at the intricacies of policy than at the glad-handing of politics. Both enjoy adulation on the global stage that seems to have eluded them at home.

Mr. Obama arrived in New Delhi fresh from his party's “shellacking” in a midterm-election cycle in which Democrats lost their majority in the House and saw their control of the Senate sharply narrowed.

Mr. Singh, a celebrated figure globally who was reappointed as Prime Minister when the Congress Party won parliamentary elections just a few months after Mr. Obama moved into the Oval Office, has faced harsh criticism at home for his handling of a crisis in Kashmir, rising food prices and perceived missteps in handling India's archrival, Pakistan. — © New York Times News Service