Fai Arrest: Hillary Clinton's Gift to India

Fai’s arrest is a gift; India needs to accept with caution. It may not overlook the fact that Fai was allowed to operate for more or less two decades without an obstacle or a spanner being thrown in the operative mechanism of his ‘Kashmir American Council’ [KAC]. It is simply inconceivable that US security agencies did not know. KAC is not an exception; it is one of the multitudes of such organizations in Washington promoting interests of foreign states, as also the political interests of dissidents of countries across the globe. Some rich political houses like Bhutto’s of Pakistan have lobbies working for them. It is known that money flows into US to fund the PR exercise undertaken by influential lobbies. If it is violation of US law, as is made out in Fai’s case, then this particular law is taken much more in its violation than its implementation. The implementation on the face of it is highly selective, as is evident in Fai’s case, and it is implemented to meet a US exigency, in the given time and space.

Hillary Clinton didn’t wait long before spilling the beans or what does she expect in return. She had a dossier in her brief and it was spelt out in Chennai. Hillary Clinton asked India to don the role of an ally of US in regional forums like ASEAN and the upcoming East Asia Summit. The advisory came in the background of Chinese assertiveness in the region with a concurrent stress on cordial relations between India, China and the US. She admitted the difficulties however,

"This will not always be easy," she said, adding "if we want to address, manage or solve some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century, India, China and the United States will have to coordinate our efforts."

US understands the contradictions inherent in coordination, Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be na‹ve to the point of failing to understand it. Given the American track record, India and China would serve their respective countries as well as the region much better were they to strike a trans-Asian bargain to address geopolitical concerns of the region. Standing united in addressing these concerns might be much better option than having US in the midst with a finger in the pie! However so far India and China have not been able to strike a bargain, as Pakistan stays in the midst of the equation and China likes her to stay there. That is probably the difficulty Hillary sees in the coordination. Pakistan would like more and more of China staying close to her to develop a comparative comfort level vis a vis India.   

Hillary Clinton was addressing an audience of students, opinion makers and other citizens of South India at the Anna Centenary Library in Chennai pitched for enhanced trade links between South Asian countries. ”Promoting trade links in violence-hit South Asia, will bring prosperity and peace not only to India, but also to countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan," stated Hillary. Some words of comfort for the poor ones-Pakistan and poor in extremes-Afghanistan.

These were passing references, while talking of South Asian trade relations; the focus was on the east rather than south of the Asian continent. The have-nots of South Asia had just words of comfort as India was advised to take a turn towards southeast and eventually merge the economy with the rich Pacific Rim countries in the east of the Asian continent rather than get mired amongst have-nots of South Asia.

Hillary Clinton singing like a sparrow talked of India’s neighbours, the tunes coming out loud and clear. Neighbours however do not translate into Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Afghanistan, as Hillary exhorted India to be more assertive and play the role of a leader in Asia to shape the future of the Asia Pacific. There was some consolation for south and central Asia-just consolation, not partnership of any sort. It was made to be the spill over effect, the assent being on Asia-Pacific ”This is the time to seize the emerging opportunities ofÿ the 21st century and India should pro-actively play the leadership role to shape the future of the Asia-Pacific," she added. "India’s leadership has the potential to positively shape the future of the Asia-Pacific and we encourage you not just to look east, but continue to engage and act east as well," she said.

Hillary pleading for extended trade to overcome violence in South Asia had a finger in pie tune. She made out that opening of India’s markets to world will produce a more prosperous India and South Asia. Markets worldwide constitute America’s hunger. The sole superpower wants a share in every dollar spend, every pound exchanged, every yen transected, every rupee over the counter to make up for an average American consuming as per one estimate the equal of 35 Afro-Asians. Hillary’s brief in Chennai carried the rich enclaves of the planet along, the spillover or may we call it the left over remains the take of the majority- the poor of mother earth.

Does the agenda suit India in particular and South Asia in general is a matter of debate. The Indian nation would have to think hard before getting on board of the Hillary agenda. We may pick up the debate after looking at what else Hillary had to say of partnership of the rich, spillover for the poor!

Hillary Clinton the first American top diplomat to visit Chennai during an India trip-the prime metropolis of India’s south was there to take India on a path away from South towards east. An irony of sorts-in south to make a plea for looking east, in order to mark what she asserted would be the " defining partnership of the 21st century, on the plea of common commitments

"We have a common commitment to combating terrorism and achieving economic prosperity," she said. The irony continues- combat terrorism in south by seeking economic prosperity in the east-the Pacific Rim! She was quick to note how ambitious the agenda is, as she said "Yes, it is an ambitious agenda, but we can afford to be ambitious." The bet was put out to be India’s vibrant pluralistic society will inspire others to following a similar path of tolerance. Read path of tolerance that America follows in Iraq, in Afghanistan!

There was word of cheer for those who form the Indian elite living in the comfort of shinning India. Making out that her faith in India was not blind; Hillary said "We have watched your progress with great admiration." Gone were the critical notes of the past, the notes that appeared glaring on human rights in wikileaks in recent past, instead there was a note of appreciation. "As India takes on a larger role throughout the Asia-Pacific, it is also taking on new responsibilities including the duty to speak out against violations of universal human rights," so said Hillary-music indeed! There was a note of appreciation for India’s Election Commission which is widely viewed as the "global gold standard" for holding polls.

Indian progress in an undeniable fact, the country has made remarkable progress, continues with more or less admirable 8% growth rate. There are economic indices, facts and figures, any Indian would be proud of. The country undeniably has institutions that few countries outside the civilized world could boost of. India shines in parts, there are grey areas indicative of lop sided development. Eastern UP and Bihar where bulk of Indians live in the Indo-Gangetic plain have a low curve in developmental graph, these regions lag behind in economic indices. There is Maoist insurgency in some central Indian states, a struggle between haves and have nots, a contrast with India that is has shinning oases in the midst of deserts of poverty. There is dissent with varying levels of insurgency in Kashmir and Northeast-geopolitically India’s soft underbelly.

India has a huge agenda on within the nation; in the neighbourhood is the state of Pakistan being tested to almost breaking point. There is the danger of spillover effect. So India within and without has a huge agenda to cover before she gets on board the Hillary springboard. Arresting Fai and putting him on trial after two decades of having him on board and making him virtually a partner in Kashmir study of American Congress [ref: wikileaks in recent past] should be taken as a poorly devised diplomatic gimmick rather than blow the trumpet a la Arnab Goswami!   

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival] Feedback on: iqbal .javid46@ gmail.com