US NSA’s visit to South Asia: Implications for India

The recent visit of the newly appointed US National Security Adviser, General McMaster, to South Asia was the first high-level visit by a senior figure in the Trump administration to the region. The Trump administration’s regional priorities has been reflected in the pattern of high-level visits in recent weeks: Vice President Pence has visited South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia; US Defence Secretary, having visited Japan and South Korea, is currently visiting Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Egypt and Djibouti whilst Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, having visited Japan, South Korea and China, went on to visit Western Europe and Russia.
Following the meeting between him and the Army Chief, the Pakistan military’s press release, in an apparent reference to his Kabul interview, stated, “Pakistan itself a victim of state sponsored terrorism, strongly rejects allegations of employing proxies from its soil. US NSA acknowledged Pakistan Army’s efforts in eliminating terrorism and infrastructure, assuring US support to bring peace and stability in the region and globally.” The Pakistan Army’s officially released video clip of the meeting shows a tense atmosphere at this meeting.

The shifting geopolitics in Southwest Asia could be behind the terse public messaging on the part of the Pakistan military. It could also be their calculation that an increased number of US troops in Afghanistan would imply greater US dependence on the supply routes via Pakistan; the tense relations with Russia might also mean increased difficulty in using the alternate northern supply route. The use of the largest non-nuclear bomb in the adjacent Nangarhar province against the ‘Wilayet-e-Khorasan’ terrorists was a signal not just to Russia but also to Pakistan because of their hostility to the latter. The Congressional requests for funding for Pakistan by the present administration have not shown any reduction from the previous years although the president has the authority to withhold funding if Pakistan does not cooperate in cracking down on terrorists inimical to US operations in Afghanistan.

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US pitches for more Indian military aid in Afghanistan, Pakistan upset

The US’ praise for India’s role in bolstering Afghanistan’s military capability, and criticism of Pakistan for supporting terrorists is making headlines, and signals a marked downslide in Washington-Islamabad relations. In pointed remarks that are creating much heartburn in Islamabad, the US’ top commander in Afghanistan lauded India for making “enormously valuable” contribution in buttressing Afghan security forces and underlined that the US favours the military support.
Afghanistan has sought more military supplies from India, including attack helicopters, said US Commander General John Nicholson against the backdrop of Afghanistan’s renewed offensive against assorted terror groups which has killed around 300 Islamic State terrorists. Alluding to the four Mi-25 helicopters provided by India to Afghanistan, Gen. Nicholson said the country needs more military support to tackle terror outfits.
While Nicholson was all praise for India’s role in Afghanistan, he did not mince words in what is clearly a scathing indictment of Pakistan’s role in fomenting terror in Afghanistan. He said that the Taliban also “enjoys sanctuaries” in Pakistan and stressed that the US was putting pressure on Pakistan to contain these groups.

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India, US back inclusive Afghanistan

Following US President Barack Obama’s visit to India earlier this year, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Dan Feldman, visited New Delhi recently to continue high-level US-India consultations on Afghanistan.

Mr Feldman, who was in Delhi on 7th April, met India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, and S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary of India, amongst other Indian government officials.

The agenda of the meeting was to discuss the best way to support a stable, sustainable, inclusive, sovereign and democratic political order in Afghanistan. They also spoke about the outcomes of Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah’s visit to Washington in March 2015.

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