Is US Playing the "India Card" Against China With "Indo-Pacific Quad"?

Has Asia-Pacific become Indo-Pacific? Is George W. Bush's Quad back again? Is this Trump's version of Obama's Pivot to Asia? Let's examine what happened during President Donald Trump's recent Asia Trip.

Obama's Pivot to Asia:

President Barack Obama's Pivot to Asia initiative and his efforts to create Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seemed to have been all but abandoned by President Donald Trump after his inauguration in January 2017. This is part of a pattern of Mr. Trump's campaign to erase the Obama legacy and put his own stamp on all things American. However, it now appears that the Obama legacy is being repackaged by the Trump administration under new names such as "Quad" in "Indo-Pacific" region. Its aim remains the same: To check China's rise.

Trump's Quad in Indo-Pacific:

In a speech to business leaders during his visit to Vietnam, President Trump repeatedly called for a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” describing a region where independent nations could “thrive in freedom and peace” and all states “play by the rules.” Without naming China as the target, Trump also used the phrase repeatedly at the start of a meeting Monday in the Philippines with President Rodrigo Duterte, according to Bloomberg.    Trump also met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Manila and called him a friend and a “great gentleman.”

Trump's Asia trip also saw the revival of a decade-old but short-lived partnership of four maritime nations (Australia, India, Japan and the United States) worried about China’s rising influence in the region now being described as "Indo-Pacific" rather than its usual moniker of Asia-Pacific.  Senior officials from the four countries met in Manila for the first such meeting since the George W. Bush administration, focused on regional issues including North Korea but topped with China-related concerns.

US-India Anti-China Military Alliance?

To some observers, the "Quad" appears to be a throwback to the Cold War era in which the United States wants to use Narendra Modi as a willing ally to check China's rise. They cite lack of confidence in the current American leadership under Trump to follow through on any international or bilateral commitments.

While the US seeks to use India against China, the Indians remain obsessed with Pakistan. They talk about the lack of American concern for India's interests in South Asia and the Middle East. Writing for The Wire, Indian analyst Manoj Joshi complains that "there is no reciprocal US commitment to issues of Indian concern relating to Pakistan and the dangers arising out of the highly volatile environment in the Persian Gulf area which the US has helped create".

India's Pakistan Obsession:

It seems to me that the US policymakers don't fully appreciate the Kautilya doctrine that says "your neighbor is your enemy and your neighbor's neighbor is your friend".

The foreign policy doctrine enunciated by Kautilya, the ancient Indian Machiavelli, continues to guide India's foreign policy vis-a-vis its neighbors, particularly Pakistan. Kautilya's Rajamdala (Circle of States) theory can be seen in action today in India's use of Afghanistan against Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Pakistan phobia in India is so deeply ingrained that the Indian policy vis-a-vis Pakistan is not likely to change in the foreseeable future.

Summary:

President Donald Trump has repeatedly talked about the "Indo-Pacific" region in an obvious attempt to sign up Delhi to counter Beijing in Asia.  However, the Indians remain obsessed with enlisting the Americans to hurt Pakistan. The Trump administration is willing to engage in anti-Pakistan rhetoric but it is not going to act against Pakistan as long as Afghanistan remains important to the US interests. This is where their interest diverge now and likely to remain so at least in the foreseeable future.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Why is India Sponsoring Terrorism in Pakistan?

Ex-Indian Spy Documents RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Post Cold War Line-up: Pakistan-Russia-China vs India-Japan-US

Ex RAW Chief AS Dulat Blames Advani For Agra Summit Failure

Pakistan ISI: Afghanistan's Bogeyman

Trump's Anti-Pakistan Rhetoric

Counter-insurgencyOperation ZarbeAzb

India's Abiding Hostility Toward Pakistan 

India's Israel Envy: Will Modi Attack Pakistan?

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
India has territorial disputes with:

- Pakistan
- China
- Myanmar
- Bangladesh
- Nepal

https://twitter.com/spectatorindex/status/954760444941651969
Riaz Haq said…
#India Folds Under #Trump's Pressure, Halts #Iranian #Oil Imports | India’s oil ministry has asked refiners to prepare for a ‘drastic reduction or zero’ imports of Iranian oil from November 2018 https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/India-Folds-Under-Pressure-Halts-Iranian-Oil-Imports.html?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=tw_repost … #oilprice

In more dour news for Iran, India (the world’s fourth largest oil importer) is planning to cut oil imports from the embattled OPEC member. India’s oil ministry has asked refiners to prepare for a ‘drastic reduction or zero’ imports of Iranian oil from November, Reuters said on Thursday, citing two industry sources.

The news comes as Tehran remains defiant over impending U.S. sanctions renewal and just days after India indicated it would push back against pressure from Washington to halt Iranian oil imports, stating that it did not recognize sanctions the U.S. has threatened to impose on countries that continue to buy Iranian oil after November 4.

"India does not recognize unilateral sanctions, but only sanctions by the United Nations," Sunjay Sudhir, joint secretary for international cooperation at India's petroleum ministry, told CNN earlier when asked whether India would reduce oil imports from Iran. After China, India is the largest buyer of Iranian crude oil.

President Trump said on Tuesday that the U.S. would level sanctions on countries that not did not cut Iranian oil imports.

Though India made an initial defiant stand, it simply can’t afford to alienate Washington since it has to safeguard its exposure to the U.S. financial system, a powerful tool that the U.S. can wield as it pleases since the dollar is the world’s reserve currency. This allows Washington to level crippling sanctions on a wide range of countries all the way from Russia to Venezuela to Iran and anybody else that any sitting U.S. president sees fit to punish.

This economic weapon is also why Beijing is working feverishly to supplement or replace the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency. In September, John Hardy, the head of FX strategy at Saxo Bank said China was “eyeing the benefits of having its own currency play a larger role and to supplant the USD's role in global trade. The initial focus is on the global oil trade, where it has announced the intention of buying oil in yuan and allowing trade partners to settle that yuan in gold." He added that settling in gold is a clever move by Beijing as it provides oil-exporting countries with a greater degree of comfort.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s foreign policy is up a creek without a paddle, especially in its #SouthAsia neighborhood due to reckless adventurism. #Modi has abandoned non-aligned movement and antagonized #China and #Russia in its pursuit of alliance with #America, #Trump.

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/is-indias-foreign-policy-adrift/article24343945.ece

The BJP government’s denseness has ended up antagonising both Russia and China. Nothing typified this more than Russia holding antiterror exercises with Pakistan in DRUZBA-2017. Similarly, rather than taking a nuanced position, the ill-conceived boycott of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in 2017 invited the wrath of China via the Doklam standoff. Notwithstanding government claims, the withdrawal from Doklam was sequential — India first, then China — rather than simultaneous. The sequel was that the Prime Minister had to travel to Wuhan and Sochi to effectively pay ‘court’ to Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, respectively.

The worst casualty has, however, been India’s neighbourhood. In the past four years, the BJP government has swung from the sublime to the ridiculous on Pakistan, blockaded Nepal for not declaring itself as a Hindu Rashtra, lost Sri Lanka to the Chinese, been belittled by the Maldives and even Seychelles. Europe, Africa, Latin and South America have fallen off the map.

The list is interminable. The BJP government’s denseness has ended up antagonising both Russia and China. Nothing typified this more than Russia holding antiterror exercises with Pakistan in DRUZBA-2017. Similarly, rather than taking a nuanced position, the ill-conceived boycott of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in 2017 invited the wrath of China via the Doklam standoff. Notwithstanding government claims, the withdrawal from Doklam was sequential — India first, then China — rather than simultaneous. The sequel was that the Prime Minister had to travel to Wuhan and Sochi to effectively pay ‘court’ to Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, respectively.

The worst casualty has, however, been India’s neighbourhood. In the past four years, the BJP government has swung from the sublime to the ridiculous on Pakistan, blockaded Nepal for not declaring itself as a Hindu Rashtra, lost Sri Lanka to the Chinese, been belittled by the Maldives and even Seychelles. Europe, Africa, Latin and South America have fallen off the map.

The list is interminable. India’s foreign policy is up a creek without a paddle.

Riaz Haq said…
Here's Michael Lewis, author of "The Fifth Risk" on a potential threat that could destroy US credit and its economy:

"Assuming Donald Trump remains president for a while, I think there's at least the possibility of the risk that he will try to default on the American debt selectively. Like, he'll say, the Chinese are trying to sell their treasury bonds, and it's causing disruption in the treasury bond market; they stole all that money in the first place from us; we're not going to pay the Chinese back."


https://www.npr.org/2018/10/02/653607732/michael-lewis-trumps-approach-to-government-shows-neglect-and-misunderstanding

Michael Lewis, welcome back to FRESH AIR. Explain what "The Fifth Risk" is.

MICHAEL LEWIS: Short answer is it's the risk that you fail to imagine. It's while you're worried about what you're worried about, it's the thing that's actually going to come and kill you. And the longer answer is, when I'm working on this book about the federal government under Trump, I come to see the federal government as really a portfolio of risks that are being managed.

And as I'm wandering around the federal government trying to figure out what these risks are, over and over again when I'm asking people in the Energy Department or the Agriculture Department or even the White House to name kind of the top risks on the tip of their minds, they all come up with kind of three or four, and then they can't think of the fifth. So I thought that's the moment where the mind fails to imagine what it needs to imagine.

GROSS: Since your book is about the federal government under Trump, focusing on the energy, agriculture and commerce departments, why did you name it "The Fifth Risk" now that you've explained with "The Fifth Risk" means?

LEWIS: Well, it was a response to what I'd found about how the Trump administration had gone about taking over the federal government. What kind of lights a fire under me is when I discovered that the Obama administration had spent the better part of a year and thousands of people's lives preparing essentially the best course that had ever been created in how to run the federal government or what was going on inside the federal government and that this course was meant to be delivered to whoever won the election the day after the election - starting the day after the election.

And they were expecting hundreds of people to roll in to receive these briefings, and nobody showed up. Nobody - in many cases, when I go get these briefings, I'm the first person to have got them. And I thought, well, this enterprise that's managing all these risks it imagines but we as a society don't spend much time thinking about. It's being neglected, ignored and is operating on the basis of ignorance. So I thought, what happens when you do that across a big portfolio of risks like the federal government runs? And what happens is you amplify the risks. You increase the probability of these risks actually causing problems.

GROSS: So you write about three different departments - energy, agriculture and commerce. In all three or at least in two of the three, data has been removed, and the public can no longer access it. Can you give us some examples across the agencies of data that's been removed?

LEWIS: Yeah, so this is a theme. You know, trying to - wants to tease out some of the themes of the Trump administration. And one of the themes is it's going dark, or it's got a very loose or sometimes hostile attitude towards the data the government is supposed to collect and make available. Just a couple of the examples - in all three agencies, anything having to do with climate was removed. And then in several cases, it was kind of odd removal of data.

Riaz Haq said…
Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Deng Xiaoping's comments in Beijing to Albanian Communist Party's visiting delegation in 1962 (as quoted in China’s India War, 1962 as quoted in"Looking Back to See the Future: Looking Back to See the Future" edited by Air Commodore Jasjit Singh published in 2013:

"During the last two years it is clear that the American imperialists are helping two forces in Asia: Japan and India. These two forces have yet to form completely. The attempts by the American imperialists to increase the power of India are due to the fact that India is very populous, while Japan is both populous and technologically advanced. Of course, lesser countries of South Asia and Indochina are also included in this plan. Their specific measures are intended to help India become a great power, but its body is very weak. In other words, they are trying to shift India from a policy of neutrality to the side of the American imperialists. Should something like this come to fruition, it would be a blow not only to China, but to the Soviet Union as well. When they help India, they offend Pakistan. The public opinion in Pakistan is now on the side of a change in the government policy, and now Pakistan has a good position towards us. This has yet to be achieved completely. It would take a long time to achieve it."

https://books.google.com/books?id=p026DQAAQBAJ&pg=PT43&lpg=PT43&dq=Deng+Xiaoping++%22During+the+last+two+years+it+is+clear+that+the+American+imperialists...%22+are+helping+two+forces+in+Asia:+Japan+and+India.&source=bl&ots=FChSC5HL2H&sig=ACfU3U1RgRq5sz7kNB9e2DO_iS3hWjZXTA&hl=en&ppis=_e&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjQjrS3nf7lAhUTsp4KHV7uBokQ6AEwAHoECAEQAQ#v=snippet&q=Japan%20India&f=false
Riaz Haq said…
#India angers #Afghanistan, #Bangladesh. Ex #Indian Diplomat: "Our smaller neighbors will look elsewhere in their environs for meaningful friendships, and in today’s circumstances, they do not have to look far in their neighborhood" #CAB2019 #AmitShah https://indianpunchline.com/afghanistan-bangladesh-deserve-our-respect/

This had to happen: The friendliest and the closest neighbour that India ever had since its independence, Afghanistan, has cast aside diplomatic niceties and unmistakably conveyed its indignation and sense of hurt over the churlish imputation by the Indian leadership of alleged religious / racial persecution of minorities in that Muslim country on India’s northern tier.

The interview by the Afghan envoy Tahir Qadiry with India Today TV should come as an eyeopener for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah — and even External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar — namely, that India’s political relations with its three big ‘Muslim neighbours’ are running into headwinds.

The Afghan envoy has taken exception to the very notion of state persecution of the minority Sikh community in his country. As he put it, “In the last few years, since the fall of the Taliban Afghan people and government, especially this government, has been respecting the minorities, like the Sikh community, our great brothers and sisters as we have in Afghanistan. We have huge respect for them, we have seats for them in parliament, seats in the lower house as well, we also have their representative at the presidential palace.”

Qadiry’s remarks constitute a truthful statement of facts. Except for the abnormal five-year period under Taliban rule (1996-2001), the Afghan state has pursued a policy of pluralism allowing various faiths and sects to flourish.

The Sikh community was never persecuted in Afghanistan. In fact, it was well-rooted in the Afghan society and even in the chaotic times under the Mujahideen (1992-1996), the Sikh Gurudwara in Kabul was an oasis of peace and serenity. (I had a most memorable visit to the Kart-e-Parwan Gurudwara in Kabul in 1994.)

When security conditions deteriorated alarmingly in the nineties, many Sikh families moved down to India to wait out the time of troubles. But the enterprising male members of the families mostly preferred to stay put in Kabul and pursue their livelihood, which was mostly trading. In the Afghan setting, they did relatively well too, especially doing trade with India. Of course, with the hydra-headed beast of terrorism around, insecurity prevails in Afghanistan today and the Sikh community has also grievously suffered. But state repression? For God’s sake, no.

Unlike the present BJP government’s approach, successive Congress governments pursued an open-door policy toward Afghan nationals who sought refuge in India. We never differentiated the Afghans on the basis of their religion or ethnicity. The Indian policies were riveted on people-to-people relations and that approach earned a lot of goodwill for our country among Afghans in general.

Arguably, that approach proved to be the mainstay of the India-Afghanistan relationship. Ironically, even the Indian intelligence, which taps into the Afghan goodwill rather lavishly in the recent years, has been a direct beneficiary of the policy of friendship and the vast reservoir of friendly feelings it created through several decades.

How far the Indian intelligence agencies tried to discourage Home Minister Amit Shah from proceeding on such an abrasive track today we do not know, but it seems extremely unlikely that such professionalism exists any longer in our country.

Riaz Haq said…
My wild guess is that Ehsan was instrumental in providing the clues that led to #TTP commanders whereabouts in #Afghanistan and their killing. Ehsan’s “escape” is probably a reward for his valuable help to #Pakistani sleuths

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51356940

The fatal shooting of two men in the heart of the Afghan capital Kabul - a city unfortunately used to violence - went almost unnoticed.

But then, the dead men had hoped to go unnoticed: according to one source, they were both carrying fake IDs.

Exactly what they were doing in Kabul, and who killed them, remains a mystery that touches upon the murky links between security services and extremist groups in the region.

Who they really were, at least, has become clear. According to sources in Pakistani intelligence and militant circles, the men were senior members of the Pakistani Taliban - a group that has killed hundreds of Pakistanis in suicide bombings and other attacks.


One of the dead men was Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, who held a key position in the Pakistani Taliban's leadership council, and formerly served as the group's deputy leader.

He had been accused of involvement in several high-profile attacks on Pakistani politicians and linked to one of the country's deadliest militant attacks, the 2014 assault on a school in Peshawar, which left more than 150 people - mainly children - dead.

The second man was Qari Saif Younis, a military commander within the group. In a statement on Thursday, the Pakistani Taliban confirmed the men's identities and their deaths but gave few other details.

According to one militant source, the men had been due to hold a secret "meeting" in Kabul, on the direct orders of the group's leadership, apparently travelling from the eastern Afghan province of Paktika.

Their bodies were found near the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul
The militant would not say who they were meeting. According to a source in Pakistani intelligence, the men's bodies were discovered in the vicinity of the high-end Intercontinental Hotel - the site of two deadly attacks in recent years.

The deaths occurred last week, but the source in the Pakistani Taliban said the group's leadership had initially ordered the news to be kept "secret", partly as they were rattled by the assassinations, and partly to avoid awkward questions about why the men were in the city.

It is highly unusual for senior members of the Pakistani Taliban to be travelling to Kabul. The group is an entirely separate entity from the Afghan Taliban, with different aims and different supporters. The Afghan Taliban have been fighting a long-running insurgency against the Afghan government, which is backed by US-led forces, while the Pakistani Taliban have focused their attacks inside Pakistan.

---

The source within the group acknowledged it was also possible that gunmen or militants linked to Pakistani intelligence services were responsible.

They have in the past conducted other audacious assassinations, targeting figures wanted by Pakistan who were living in Afghanistan. For example, in December 2018 a suicide bombing in an upmarket district of the southern city of Kandahar killed a separatist Pakistani leader who had been living there in exile.

Conversely, figures linked to the Afghan Taliban have previously been killed in Pakistan. In 2013, one alleged senior Afghan militant figure was shot dead in a bakery in Islamabad.

According to sources within the Pakistani Taliban, the bodies of the men killed in Kabul, Sheikh Khalid Haqqani and Qari Saif Younis, were handed over to the group, and a large funeral was held for them on Monday in their stronghold in eastern Kunar Province.

Of course, how the bodies ended up back in the hands of their militant group remains another part of the intrigue.
Riaz Haq said…
#Indian woman Amulya Leona held for chanting 'long live Pakistan' at #CAA_NRCProtests. Her comments were immediately condemned by a local #Muslim politician. #Muslim politicians in #Hindu-majority India are often targeted as being "pro-Pakistan" #Pakistan https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-51531988


An Indian woman has been arrested and charged with sedition for chanting "long live Pakistan" at a protest in the southern city of Bangalore.

Amulya Leona was participating in a demonstration against a controversial citizenship law, which critics say discriminates against Muslims.

Her comments were immediately condemned by a prominent local Muslim politician.

Asaduddin Owaisi, who was at the rally, said neither he nor his party supported India's "enemy nation Pakistan".

Muslim politicians in Hindu-majority India are often targeted as being "pro-Pakistan" by political rivals, particularly in the last few years. The neighbouring countries have a historically tense relationship, fighting three wars since Pakistan's formation following the partition of India in 1947.

After the incident at the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) went viral, Ms Leona and her family were the target of massive outrage.

Clips of her comment were circulated widely, and her father has complained that a group of people came to his house and forced him to chant "hail mother India". They also told him that he had not brought his daughter up properly and threatened him against getting bail for her.

Police in the district told BBC Hindi that they are investigating his complaint, adding that Ms Leona would be produced before a judicial magistrate in 14 days.

What is the CAA?
The law offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three countries - Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

It amends India's 64-year-old citizenship law, which currently prohibits illegal migrants from becoming Indian citizens.

It also expedites the path to Indian citizenship for members of six religious minority communities - Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian - if they can prove that they are from Muslim-majority Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. They will now only have to live or work in India for six years - instead of 11 years - before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.

The government says this will give sanctuary to people fleeing religious persecution, but critics argue that it will marginalise India's Muslim minority.
Riaz Haq said…
#Indian Occupied #Kashmir DSP #DavinderSingh, now suspended, has said he was part of a covert #intelligence operation that required him to ferry militants including #RiyazNaikoo who was recently killed by #India's military. https://theprint.in/india/how-jk-cop-davinders-covert-mission-lie-was-exposed-by-militant-he-was-ferrying/351052/ via @ThePrintIndia

The arrested J&K deputy superintendent of police (DSP), Davinder Singh, has told investigators that he was part of a covert operation that required him to ferry militants to Jammu.

In his interrogation, DSP Singh has claimed that after ferrying Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Syed Naveed to Jammu, he intended to bring another of the organisation’s commanders, Riyaz Naikoo, there as well.

Sources told ThePrint that the arrested officer wanted his investigators to believe that he was part of a covert mission whose goal was the arrest or killing of the Hizbul militants.

The DSP is said to have told his interrogators that he was “building faith” with the militant group’s leadership, eventually prompting them to travel all the way to Jammu, which he wanted them to believe was safe for meetings.

Given his reputation as a counter-insurgent operative, investigators might have given the DSP the benefit of the doubt had it not been for the testimony of Naveed, whom the officer was ferrying, and the intelligence gathered by the Jammu and Kashmir Police on the morning of his arrest.


Investigators are said to have indulged Singh during interrogation and even tried to find out if he indeed was part of an operation by finding out if the arrested officer had kept any of his superiors updated about the so-called operation.

His call records revealed that Singh was in touch with his superiors but even as information was being collected to find out if Singh’s superiors knew what the officer had been up to, a revelation by Naveed, who was being interrogated separately, undermined the officer’s narrative.
Riaz Haq said…
After #spypigeon, #Pakistan sending #locust army to India? #Indian media warn #NewDelhi not to let its “guard down just yet” citing declassified #CIA files of its Cold War in which animals were used to photograph sensitive sites in the former #USSR. https://tribune.com.pk/story/2231962/1-tribune-fact-check-spy-pigeon-pakistan-sends-locust-army-india/

Indian media has claimed that Pakistan is behind the locust attack that has swept the country.

Arnab Goswami, an anchor at Indian news channel Republic TV, made the bizarre allegation on air alleging that the locusts were sent from across the border as a plot to “destroy the country’s agriculture and in-turn the economy”.

Goswami went on to claim tthat the locusts would target Pakistan soldiers.

Indian news outlet The Economic Times, also ran a story probing how the possibility.

The article went as far as to warn New Delhi not to let its “guard down just yet” citing declassified CIA files of its Cold War in which animals were used to photograph sensitive sites in the former USSR.
“As CIA also trained ravens and dolphins, Pakistani locusts should merit closer examination too,” the report states.

The short-horned grasshoppers invaded agriculture fields in both Pakistan and India decimating crops and risking famine in the region.

The locusts entered into the southwestern Balochistan province, from neighboring Iran.

These insects, mainly originating from deserts, eat anything from bark to seeds and flowers while traveling up to a speed of 93.2 miles (149 kilometers) a day.

After destroying crops in western Indian states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, the locusts’ swarms are heading towards national capital Delhi in large numbers.

Indian police also released a pigeon belonging to a Pakistani fisherman after a probe found that the bird, which had flown across the contentious border between the nuclear-armed nations, was not a spy.

“The pigeon was set free yesterday (May 28) after nothing suspicious was found,” said Shailendra Mishra, a senior police official in Indian occupied Kashmir.

It was unclear where the bird was released and whether it flew back to its owner.

The Pakistani owner of the pigeon had urged India to return his bird, which Indian villagers turned over to police after discovering it.

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