Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached the United States as part of his fresh campaign to reinforce India and US ties fostered by him during previous Obama administration. While, new President Donald Trump may have acted against India’s concerns by putting a cap on H1-B visas and pulling out of Paris Climate Change Agreement, his stance on terrorism suits PM Modi’s ambitions for peace and India’s geostrategic position in South Asia.
The Prime Minister has been trying to galvanise international support against the Pakistan-based terror groups by calling on the world at various platforms to condemn ‘all’ terrorists, without any sort of differentiation between the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ terrorist. The US President, meanwhile, has acted with a heavy hand against alleged state-sponsored terrorism in the Middle East by encouraging blockades and sanctions against Qatar.
During the current trip, PM Modi is likely to try and swing President Trump’s opinion against US’ long-standing ally Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, which may not be as far-fetched a dream as it once seemed.
With the long-stretched presence of US troops in Afghanistan becoming a thorn in President’s throne, US is more inclined than ever to demote Pakistan from friend’s status.
In fact, in an unprecedented act, a bipartisan bill seeking to revoke Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally (MNNA) to the US was introduced in the House of Representatives by two top lawmakers last week, claiming the country failed to effectively fight terrorism.
“We must make a clean break with Pakistan, but at the very least, we should stop providing them the eligibility to obtain our own sophisticated weaponry in an expedited process granting them a privileged status reserved for our closest allies,” Ted Poe, one of the Senator who proposed the bill, said in the House.
If the bill is approved, Pakistan would lose priority delivery of US defence materials, an expedited arms sale process and a US loan guarantee programme, which backs up loans issued by private banks to finance arms exports. All the facilities, India has been saying, Pakistan uses to strengthen terrorist camps against India on its eastern border.
However, the Trump administration is more cautious against a ‘clean break with Pakistan’. In a recent news conference, a White House official on the condition of anonymity revealed that US does not see ties with India and Pakistan as ‘zero sum game’.
“I want to make the point here that US relationships with India and Pakistan really stand on their own merits and terms. We don’t see a zero-sum relationship when it comes to the US relationship with Pakistan and the US relationship with India.
“With Pakistan, we seek to have a productive partnership working together. But frankly, the priorities are different, and the nature of the relationships are different. So, I think that we would like to move forward with both countries,” the official said.
US President Trump is unpredictable. If the working dinner, which will be his first with any foreign guest, goes well he may become more aligned to toe India’s line of strict global action against Pakistan-supported terrorism. After all, US cannot afford to antagonise its most crucial geostrategic partner against Chinese power any further.
(With Inputs from PTI)