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Blinken visit: On cards, India’s new visionary move in Af-Pak region

WebdeskJul 28, 2021, 08:43 AM IST

Blinken visit: On cards, India’s new visionary move in Af-Pak region

                                                                                                                                                                                               Nirendra Dev

 

India is already an important player in the Indo Pacific and Quad format and Modi's vision of global interdependence has undoubtedly assumed a new dimension.

 

New Delhi: Pretensions cannot go a long way in diplomacy.

 

It is time for India to take a decisive and giant leap in geostrategic policymaking.

 

Perhaps it is the best time now – the fag end of July 2021 – that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would raise his concept and vision of ‘New India’ onto the international landscape.

 

India is already an important player in the Indo Pacific and Quad format. As underlined in International Solar Alliance (ISA), Modi's vision of global interdependence has undoubtedly assumed a new dimension.

 

The issue is New Delhi has to take it forward at a time when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is making a crucial visit.

 

In the defence domain, the Indian government has indicated that both sides are expected to explore ways and means to deepen their collaboration during the visit.

 

Here comes the catch.

 

Indeed, India took a decisive and giant step on January 9, 1991, when Late Chandrashekhar was India’s Prime Minister – ironically banking on ‘outside’ from the status-quoist Congress party.

 

Between January 9 and February 26, 1991 – every day US military aircraft– at least one each or even more would land in Mumbai, Agra and Pune for what was later stated to refuel the planes. Chandrashekhar took a significant step by giving clearance to the US aircraft that used to fly between military airbases in the Philippines and Jordan.

 

All his life, Chandrashekhar pushed aggressively for ‘secular polity, but when it came to taking a critical decision with long term impact, he was not hesitant.

 

Supporting his government, Rajiv Gandhi perhaps presumed the decision should have been otherwise as the Congress party was then quite desperate (as it is now with his son and daughter around) to bounce back to power. He did not want the government to been seen supporting an ‘anti-Iraq or anti-Islamic’ power.

 

When Rajiv Gandhi and other Congress members raised the issue in Parliament, Chandrashekhar asserted that these were only civil supplies -clothes and food. But the fact of the matter was different.

 

According to a report in 'New York Times' (January 30, 1991) "Aince the beginning of the Gulf War", Chandrashekhar had taken a stand "more critical of Iraq" and was accused of pandering to "American imperialism".

 

The paper had hailed Chandrashekhar as "a pragmatic man" despite no experience in foreign policy and appreciated the fact that Chandrashekhar had also rejected "attempts to link the annexation of Kuwait (by Saddam Hussein) with Israeli occupation of areas claimed by Palestinians".

 

That decision to go along with US forces was a significant departure from so-called 'Non-Aligned' foreign policy.

 

As Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to say, the “Ghari ki Sui (clock of the hand) has taken a full circle and come around. It’s time for India now to take yet another giant step in the geostrategic perspective.

 

The US considers India a ‘critical partner’ in the region.

 

In the words of Dean Thompson, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, “All of Afghanistan’s neighbours and countries in the region have an interest in a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan”.

 

If India desires a ‘global place’ for itself in two decades, circa 2021 has to play like potential and dependable regional and global power.

 

Today’s agony or chief challenge is on the Afghanistan front, and yes, New Delhi should give itself a central role vis-a-vis in good coordination with the Americans.

 

As for the Taliban challenge and the fact that all this is happening in India’s neighbourhood, there is no dispute that today's world stands on the edge of a precipice or a cliff.

 

Thus, India has to give itself a role to ‘achieve’ jointly with other global players, especially the United States, notwithstanding certain ‘mistakes’ committed by Washington.

 

The ‘military alliance’ should not be a bad word in the new world order. Of course, the factors that drew India and the US closer to each other are because both perceive China as an emerging problematic area.

 

For the Modi-bashing ‘China-pandering and Pakistan-loving’ veterans of Indian media and strategic experts, of course, all these will come as a dazzling bolt from the blue.

 

In fact, over the years, isolating Pakistan's adversarial mindset with the Taliban has been a wrong idea.

 

For long, the Left apologists have tried to argue that just as India has special interests in countries such as Nepal or Sri Lanka, Pakistan too views Afghanistan through the same prism.

 

This was to be on another erroneous path.

 

It’s time to avoid the beaten track.

 

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