Does President Barack Obama’s ‘finishing the job’ mean the same thing as staying the course in Afghanistan, as urged by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh?
The commander of US and ISAF forces in Afghanistan has, in his assessment to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, said that ‘increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions’. General Stanley McChrystal, while promising a new ISAF strategy, also points out the need for additional forces, calling the next year critical.
General Deepak Kapoor will visit the US on Monday. The current agenda in increasing Indo-US military cooperation includes the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), the End User Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) and the Communications Interoperability and Security Agreement (CISA). Interestingly, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be India at the same time.
“The US has to transmit an effective message that they are here to stay till the local population can defend itself. These messages need to be tailored very carefully for maximum impact, understanding and acceptance.”
The US is being perceived as hurrying to create the minimum required circumstances for its departure from the region.
The Ministry of Defense, closely watching the ongoing electoral exercise, has noticed the apprehensions of various countries regarding the eventual new government and their defense trade and strategic relationship with India.
Five months past the attacks on Mumbai, the promise of tangible Indo-Pak cooperation has become more urgent but remains just as distant. India has been unable to persuade Pakistan on several counts. It would like its neighbor to take an unequivocal and committed stand and refrain from dragging its feet going after the perpetrators of 26/11.