Af-Pak, India and Beyond: The New Underpinnings of Washington’s South Asia Policy

    Puneet Ahluwalia, Prateek Joshi

    Security, Asia

    Indian security personnel patrol on the rear side of the historic Taj Mahal

    American national interest lies in reaching out to the smallest of the nations, which may prove crucial to “America First” domestic concerns.

    Strategic circles in South Asia have been obsessed with Washington since August 21, when President Trump addressed the nation from the Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Virginia, and laid out America’s military plans for Afghanistan. The speech had been interpreted as his vision for South Asia, given the Af-Pak dynamic and the potential role he envisaged for India to play in stabilizing her neighborhood.

    Describing India as a “key security and economic partner of the United States,” Trump expressed his vision to elevate India as a key stakeholder in the Af-Pak issue. A recent estimate by Anthony Cordesman of Center for Strategic and International Studies pegs the total cost of the sixteen-year-long war at $ 841 billion, along with 2,400 soldiers killed. It was in this regard that the president, for the first time, repeatedly stressed that sixteen years had passed and yet the Afghan imbroglio was far from being resolved. The consistency in the new administration’s stance on the Af-Pak imbroglio is too serious to be ignored.

    Ever since President Trump assumed power, Indo-U.S. relationship has got the much needed push across the entire spectrum of factors that drive the bilateral relationship. Prime Minister Modi’s U.S. visit in June was dubbed successful not only in the domain of tangible achievements—such as the Guardian drone deal and a joint statement pointing towards strong future defense cooperation and anti-terror initiatives—but also in terms of the chemistry the two leaders shared. New Delhi is decked up for welcoming Ivanka Trump in November.

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    The National Interest

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