Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived
in Washington yesterday to meet with President Obama. Singh will be the
guest at Obama's first official state dinner of his presidency, a sign
of how highly the White House values U.S.-India relations. Of the
subjects to be discussed, the war in Afghanistan ranks near the top.
What is India's role in the Afghanistan conflict, for which Obama is set to announce a troop increase
- India More Important than Afghanistan Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria warns
that Obama shouldn't alienate India, which he says is a key long-term
ally, just for the sake of short-term gain in Afghanistan. "Since
Washington desperately needs Pakistan's cooperation in that
conflict, it is tending to adopt Pakistan's concerns as its own, which
is producing a perverse view of the region," he writes. "Obama must
keep in mind that South Asia is a tar pit filled with failed
and dysfunctional states, save for one long-established democracy of
1.2 billion people that is the second-fastest-growing major economy in
the world, a check on China's rising ambitions, and a natural ally of
the United States. The prize is the relationship with India. The booby
prize is governing Afghanistan."
- India Should Lead Afghan Development Forbes's Marshall M. Bouton and Alyssa Ayres call India
"the country best positioned to increase civilian assistance." India,
like the U.S., has been victim to Afghanistan-based terrorism and badly
wants the Taliban out. India, they write, could provide key financial
and cultural support while the U.S. and NATO do the military work.
Obama should urge India to "take on a more committed leadership role in
Afghanistan's future and
emerge a more willing supporter of regional efforts to ensure a
peaceful outcome." They advocate for a "very long-term" Indian role in
building Afghan civil society.
- Don't Abuse India The Boston Globe's Nicholas Burns frames
the challenge as "how to balance a short-term need for progress in
Pakistan without losing sight of our equally important long-term
ambitions with India." He writes, "Influential Indians complain the
Obama administration is diminishing
America’s prior strategic priority on India to avoid antagonizing
regional rivals Pakistan and China." He suggests leading an
India-Pakistan detente. "India must be more sensitive to Pakistani
concerns over its involvement
in Afghanistan while Islamabad should finally prosecute the terrorists
responsible for last November’s reprehensible Mumbai attacks."
- India Wants U.S. Presence in Afghanistan Juan Cole reports
that India wants us to stay in Afghanistan. He says Singh "pressured"
Obama "not to execute a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan." Singh
reportedly said, "I have no doubt in my mind that if Taliban and Al
Qaeda group of
people succeed in Afghanistan that would have catastrophic results for
the security and stability not only of Pakistan but also for the
security and stability of whole South Asia."
- Pakistan Wants India Detente The Washington Post's Ahmed Rashid argues
that we can alleviate the slacking but totally necessary Pakistani
support for our mission in Afghanistan by leading talking between
Pakistan and India. "The Pakistan military's primary interest in a
regional strategy was
that the Americans would help restart Indo-Pakistan talks on Kashmir
and other disputes that ceased after the terrorist attack on Mumbai
last year, and negotiating a reduction of India's influence in Kabul,
which Pakistan now blames for a host of ills (some imagined, some
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