President Obama was prepared for the planted question. we are confident that he had rehearsed for it on his long trip to Mumbai.
“Why is Pakistan so important for the United States that the latter has not yet called it a terrorist State”. The question was asked by someone is the audience who was there with the students. The Bharati Intelligence had made sure that it was a female and that the question was asked without being rude. The exuberant president suddenly became thoughtful, measured and somewhat timid. He had obviously rehearsed the answer with his advisers.
President Obama said that Pakistan is “enormous”, it is strategically important not only for the US, but also for the world and that the people of Pakistan has tremendous potential.
He then said that Pakistan has extremist elements within the country, which is not unique to Pakistan and that the US was assisting Pakistan to fight extremism in a difficult terrain. It is pedagogical to note that he did not even use the word, “terrorism”.
President Obama explained that the country which had the highest stake in a stable and prosperous Pakistan was India.
Instability in the region should not be a distraction to India which is on the move. He proceeded to advise India to have a dialogue with Pakistan first on “less controversial issues” (Sir Creek, Siachin) and then on “more controversial” (Kashmir, Junagarh, Manvadar, Baghaliar Dam, Water) ones so that both countries could prosper.
In other words, he clearly said that India could not prosper unless we resolved the Kashmir issue! Then as a diplomatic rejoinder he added that the US would only be a friend and a partner and that India and Pakistan should sort out their differences themselves.
The Bharati press reports that “the questioner told the press later that she had expected a wishy-washy answer from the president. She got what she expected”.
The exchange with the student is part and parcel of US policy and should have come as no surprise to the Bharati leaders, but to hear it from him on this visit should have put to rest any expectation that the US would abandon its alliance with Pakistan or pressure Pakistan on issues of interest to Bharat.
Bharat is is no position to bargain with the president and extract concessions on other issues such as defence deals, cyber security, Proliferation Security Initiative. The results will be as expected even after President Obama addresses Parliament.
The sycophantic Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife broke protocol and received President Obamas at Delhi airport. President Obama request for a private dinner with the prime minister on day two, was purchased by the Indian style lobbyist whch resulted in a ‘small dinner’ for 70 bigwigs at 7, Race Course road, the prime minister’s home.
Glitter personalities like Viswanathan Anand and Shabana Azmi were added at the last moment. President Obama was criticised for not bringing the soft power of the US to India and the event that could have materialized into substantive decisions ended up in a paparazzi festival.
The dinner would degenerate into a photo opportunity without giving the PM and the president and prime minister time to have a heart to heart conversation before the two meet formally on day three.
President Obama has already given what he wanted to give to India in the context of technology denial and export controls. There is nothing more to give. The Bharati check for about $12 Billion is in the mail. There is a categoric no on UNSC seat and possible maybe perhaps on the NSG. With China already present at the NSG, getting Bharat is would be a tough road to hoe.
Having lost two days to dancing and music, Mr. Obama now has only Day three to turn things around. Else the Bharatis will wonder–what they got out of the trip.
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