Archive for May, 2016

Block Aid To Islamabad Over Its Failure To Curb Terrorism
The rise of India as a US partner and the eclipse of Pakistan, an American ally , are now being consecrated in legislation.US lawmakers on Thursday approved amendments to adefence bill that seek to bring India on a par with Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, see box) allies for sale of defence equipment and technology transfer, even as they voted to increase restrictions on military assistance for Pakistan, including immediately blocking $450 million in aid, unless certain conditions are met.

The passage of the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA), 2017, was the scene of much action relating to the Indian subcontinent and AsiaPacific region, as lawmakers moved to codify Washington’s Asia pivot, a strategy that includes strengthening New Delhi’s military muscle implicitly aimed at countering Beijing’s expansionism.

Sponsored by George Holding and Ami Bera (House India Caucus chairs) and the chair as well as ranking member of House foreign affairs committee, Ed Royce and Elliot Engel, respectively , the amendment (Enhancing defense and security co-operation with India) seeks to promote greater defence trade and encourage additional military cooperation between the US and India.

It encourages the executive branch to designate an official to focus on US-India defence cooperation, facilitate the transfer of technology , and maintain a special office in the Pentagon dedicated exclusively to the US-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), the centrepiece of the military tie-up between the two countries.

“Given the dynamic nature of the Indo-Pacific region and its importance to our own national security and future economic growth, now is the time to build on recent successes and propel the US-India strategic partnership forward,“ US Congressman Holding said while moving the amendment, that, among other things, requires the administration to take “such actions as may be necessary to recognise India’s status as a major defence partner of the US“.

“The secretary of defence and secretary of state shall jointly, on an annual basis, conduct an assessment of the extent to which India possesses strategic operational capabilities to support military operations of mutual interest between the US and India,“ the amendment advised, while calling for “approving and facilitating the transfer of ad vanced technology , consistent with US conventional arms transfer policy , to support combined military planning with the Indian military for missions such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter piracy, and maritime domain awareness missions“.

The bill is by no means law yet. A similar bill, introduced by senators Mark Warner and John Cornyn, and co-sponsored by senator Marco Rubio, is making its way through Senate, and after the two versions of the larger NDAA are reconciled, it will go to the White House for President Obama’s signature of approval.

However, the omnibus $602 billion NDAA also contains severe unrelated strictures on Pakistan and recommends restriction on the country that the US administration is not entirely comfortable with.

Expressing frustration with Pakistan’s failure to crack down on terrorist groups and cooperate with Afghanistan, lawmakers moved to squeeze military aid for Pakistan, including blocking a $450 million tranche, unless certain conditions are met.

The amendments now require the Pentagon to certify that Pakistan is conducting military operations to disrupt the Haqqani network, not letting the network use North Waziristan as a safe haven, actively coordinate with Afghanistan’s government to fight the network along their border, and certify Pakistan is not using its military or any funds or equipment provided by the US to persecute minority groups.

It also added a `’sense of Congress” that Shakil Afridi -a physician who is incarcerated for his helping U.S kill Osama bin Laden -is an international hero and called for his immediate release from prison.

Nato, a pillar of the Cold War

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or Nato was one of the pillars of the Cold War, bringing together the United States and its European allies into a political and military alliance as they fought the Communists under the USSR-led Warsaw Pact. After the Cold War and dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, Nato’s relevance has shifted marginally to promoting democracy, resolution of disputes, and crisis-management. In 2010, Nato brought out a strategic concept, which defines its core tasks as: collective defence, crisis-management and cooperative security. As of today, it has 28 member nations, including France, Germany, the UK, Turkey and Canada. TNN

Modi will meet Obama on June 7, confirms White House

Washington: The White House on Friday confirmed that PM Narendra Modi will be visiting the US and meeting President Barack Obama on June 7. Although the impending visit was widely known and reported, official confirmation from the White House press secretary came only on Friday, also revealing in the process that it would not be a “state“ visit, but an official “working“ visit. The former would have involved a ceremonial reception and a state banquet. However, Modi is expected to address a joint sitting of the Congress, in what some pundits see as legislative vindication of the times Washington turned its back on him through revocation of his visa, holding him accountable for the Gujarat riots in 2002. The White House statement said the visit will highlight the deepening of the US-India relationship in key areas since the President’s visit to New Delhi in January 2015. “The President looks forward to discussing progress made on our climate change and clean energy partnership, security and defense cooperation, and economic growth priorities,“ it added. -Chidanand Rajghatta

Source: The Times of India