New Delhi

Two Policemen

The impact of US-India partnership in the South Asian region and the resulting implications.

By Reema Shaukat | June 2022

India, a country of well over one billion, second largest by population in the world, acts as a bully in South Asia. It has arrogance and egotism but this is seldom acknowledged by its neighbours - or the world. Consequently, India has had territorial disputes with all its neighbours and has wished to resolve these as per its own ambitions, but has been impeded by every other party involved. Another Indian trait has been the propagated notion of non-alliance so as to portray itself as a unique entity in its location, denying influence and interference by others. It may, however, be of interest to note that despite such assertions, India has been aligned notably with the erstwhile USSR and, subsequently, with Russia, for political, economic and military mileages.

Of late, India has been attempting to align itself with the US, wishing to maintain a strategic balance between the US and Russia. India successfully played the anti-China card which enabled it to reap benefits from the US. It was all hunky dory for India until the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. Both sides have wished to muster maximum international support in their favour. India being the darling of both sides, was expected to enter this zero sum game. It has cast some serious challenges to Indian foreign policy makers.

India has always been charmed by the US and has sought to receive its attention. The US has also not been able to ignore India and has treated it with care for a better use in future, which is now enshrined in its Indo-Pacific strategy. Be it Kashmir, 1962 Sino-India conflict, 1965 and 1971 Pak-India wars, Pokhran nuclear test in 1974, direct and indirect USSR’s financial support to India in 1977, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, India’s nuclear tests in 1998, Kargil episode, the Twin Peaks crises between Pakistan and India, Mumbai incident, other skirmishes with its neighbours or India’s brutal handling of minorities, the US has been treading cautiously. Especially against its adversarial blocs, the US has been siding with the Indian aspersive narrative.

India has been hoping to attain UNSC permanent membership to not only make it stature unambiguous but also to depart from the need of any kind of alliance in future. This Indian move is important as it will not only bring power to India but also the autonomy that it has always wished for. India will then be in a position to chart a diplomatic course of action according to its desires and the territorial disputes with its neighbours can be managed as per its own interests. It will also be out of any zero sum gaming between her love affairs in future.

The Galwan Valley and Ukraine crisis have aggravated the need for UNSC permanent membership for India which should be wishing to run pillar to post so as to acquire it at the earliest. While it may be at top of the India’s wish list, there are hurdles to cross. India needs the outright consent of the US and its allies which is in jeopardy due to India’s ambivalent stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. If it is able to manoeuvre through these troubled waters and achieve UNSC permanent membership, it will be disastrous for her neighbours in general and adversaries in particular.

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