(by Patrick Goodenough, CybercastNewsService.com) – Although President Pervez Musharraf put a brave face on it, many Pakistani politicians and commentators voiced disappointment at the outcome of President Bush’s visit, judging it as having been far more successful for neighboring India than for Pakistan.
The assessment was echoed in India, where the achievement of a historic civilian nuclear energy cooperation deal was being seen as a big step towards international acceptance of India as a nuclear-armed world power.
“It is clear that America’s strategic partner in this region is India and not Pakistan,” said The Express, an Indian daily.
India and Pakistan are bitter rivals and Indian politicians have long bristled at what’s been called Washington’s “hyphenated” foreign policy towards South Asia, rather than one that deals with each of the two countries independently and in its own right.
Furthermore, while the U.S. calls Pakistan as an important ally against terrorism, many Indians regard Pakistan as a source of terrorism and instability because of Islamabad’s support for Kashmiris fighting to end Indian rule in part of the disputed territory.
For India, the high point of Bush’s visit was the announcement that he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had reached an agreement over nuclear energy. This contrasted with the U.S. stance that it would seek no such deal with Pakistan.
The administration says India, despite having developed nuclear weapons, has been responsible with the technology. With Pakistan, on the other hand, concerns persist and questions remain unanswered over a nuclear black-market network run by nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.
Bush praised Musharraf for his help in the campaign against Islamist terrorism and reaffirmed Pakistan’s role as a key ally in the battle.
But there was little else the military ruler could hold up afterwards as an accomplishment arising out of the visit.
Even on Kashmir, Pakistan obtained little more than a passing reference to the conflict that has led to two wars between the two countries, and certainly not the level of U.S. involvement in resolving the dispute that Islamabad would have liked to see.
Pakistani media said the U.S. was clearly “tilting” towards India, with The Nation saying in an editorial Bush had only visited Pakistan to give a semblance of balance, given that he was visiting India.
Unlike the case in India, there were no “glamorous deals” for Pakistan, observed The News.
“He has not even given a lollipop to Pakistan,” opined the Daily Pakistan, while the Daily Times said the difference between the two relationships was that the U.S. was interested in India, but worried about Pakistan.
Musharraf’s political opponents slammed the government and questioned its pro-U.S. policies.
Iqbal Zafar Jhagra of the Pakistan Muslim League – the party’s whose leader was ousted by Musharraf in a 1999 military coup – said the country’s image had been tarnished by Bush’s visit.
Unprecedented favors had been bestowed upon India, while Pakistan had been ditched, he said.
Liaquat Baloch of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), a coalition of Islamist parties that rules the restive North West Frontier Province and is sympathetic to the Taliban, said Musharraf should step down for failed foreign and defense policies.
Musharraf dismissed the criticism, saying he was satisfied with the visit, and that he was aware there were different “nuances” in U.S. relations with Pakistan and with India.
Dr. Subhash Kapila, an Indian international and strategic affairs analyst, characterized the presidential visit as “setting the record straight in terms of United States strategic priorities and preferences in South Asia.”
He predicted that Pakistan would continue to be a “blind-spot” for American foreign policy planners, but said Bush and the U.S. had now “placed their bets” on India.
In the global context, Kapila said, the U.S. seemed to be saying that it recognized India as a key player, strategically and economically.
In the context of Asia, the message appeared to be that the U.S. viewed India as a possible counterweight to China’s economic and military rise.
And in the more immediate regional context, the U.S. was signaling that “India is the preferred strategic power in South Asia.”
But Kapila also cautioned that India would need to manage the situation carefully. He quoted another Indian commentator and author as saying in a television interview that India had “stood on the wrong side of history for the last fifty years or so” – evidently a reference to its pro-Soviet tilt during the Cold War.
“India must exploit the opportunity to stand on the right side of history,” Kapila said.
Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.
1. Why was the assessment of President Bush’s visit to India and Pakistan viewed as far more successful for India than Pakistan?
2. How did Indian media report on President Bush’s visit to India and Pakistan?
3. How did Pakistani media report on President Bush’s visit to India and Pakistan?
4. What type of relationship do India and Pakistan have?
5. What type of U.S. involvement was Pakistan hoping for?
6. Who is Dr. Subhash Kapila? How did he interpret President Bush’s visit to and deal made with India?
7. An editorial in Pakistan’s Daily Times newspaper said the difference between the two relationships was that the U.S. was interested in India, but worried about Pakistan. Do you think that is true? Explain your answer.
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