October 14, 2011

India ‘linchpin’ in US strategy in Asia-Pacific

Thursday, 13 October 2011 22:38
S Rajagopalan | Washington


In a major exposition of America’s Asia-Pacific policy, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has declared that her country is making “a strategic bet on India’s future” — a country that will be the “linchpin” of Washington’s “new vision for a more economically integrated and politically stable South and Central Asia”.

Recalling President Barack Obama’s assertion during his India visit last year that the US-India relationship will be a defining partnership of the 21st century, Clinton admitted there are still obstacles to overcome and questions to answer on both sides, but indicated that the US was resolute on its priorities.

“The United States is making a strategic bet on India’s future — that India’s greater role on the world stage will enhance peace and security, that opening India’s markets to the world will pave the way to greater regional and global prosperity, that Indian advances in science and technology will improve lives and advance human knowledge everywhere, and that India’s vibrant, pluralistic democracy will produce measurable results and improvements for its citizens and inspire others to follow a similar path of openness and tolerance,” she noted in an extensive Op-Ed piece in the Foreign Policy magazine.

Even as the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to gradually withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, Clinton stressed: “The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the centre of the action.”

“The Asia-Pacific has become a key driver of global politics,” Clinton observed, noting that it not only boasts of having almost half of the world’s population, but is also “home to several of our key allies and important emerging powers like China, India and Indonesia”.

She described China as “one of the most prominent of emerging partners”, and said the US was setting its sights on “enhancing coordination and engagement among the three giants of the Asia-Pacific: China, India, and the United States”.

Clinton made the point that apart from expanding bilateral partnership with India, the US was actively supporting New Delhi’s ‘Look East’ efforts, highlighting the new trilateral dialogue involving, India, Japan and the US.

Dealing with Pakistan during a separate Q&A session at the Centre for American Progress, Clinton pointedly commented that Islamabad has got to become a part of the solution on Afghanistan, otherwise it will “continue to be part of the problem”.
“Everybody knows Pakistan has a big stake in the outcome of what goes on across their border, and they are going to be involved one way or the other. And part of what we’ve done is to continue to push forward on what our expectations are from Pakistan and hold them accountable on a range of issues that we have laid out for them,” Clinton said while replying to a question after delivering a lecture on American Global Leadership.

Clinton, however, made it clear that the US is not going to dump Pakistan. “This is a very difficult relationship, but I believe strongly that it is not one we can walk away from and expect that anything will turn out better, because I don’t believe that will be the case. Therefore, we are deeply engaged in finding ways to enhance cooperation with Pakistan and to further the Afghan desire for a legitimate peace and reconciliation process,” she said.

After enumerating some of the new initiatives in the region, including the New Silk Road, Clinton remarked: “So that’s a long way of saying that Pakistan has to be part of the solution, or they will continue to be part of the problem. And therefore, as frustrating as it is, we just keep every day going at it, and I think we make very slow, sometimes barely discernible progress, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

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