Time for a reset in India-US ties

The writer says that Indian leaders are so fascinated or afraid of the US that they can only mouth meek inanities, and that ties between the two nations need to be refreshed.


The writer says that Indian leaders are so fascinated or afraid of the US that they can only mouth meek inanities, and that ties between the two nations need to be refreshed. PHOTO: THE STATESMAN

December 5, 2023

NEW DELHI – Hah! I have told you so before and I reiterate it here. The US is nobody’s friend (not even of itself – remember Iraq, Afghanistan). The US is supposedly joined at the hip with the UK. During the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher went to Ronald Reagan for support against Argentina. Reagan refused. The US imported a lot of beef from Argentina. Not until Thatcher went down on both knees and beg did Reagan relent and come to her side. The Indian prime minister was in the US in June on a very high-profile visit. A lot of hype came out of his visit but nothing substantive.

One now learns through The Financial Times of the UK that Biden confronted Modi with a supposed Indian plot to assassinate the Hindu-baiter and Khalistani terrorist, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu. Now I am a US citizen, you know dyed in red, white and the blue. If I were to make threats against white Americans that Pannu makes against Hindus, I will be extradited to the US in a jiffy and rot in an American jail for the rest of my life. There was a 2+2 ministerial dialogue recently between India and the US. The US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, and the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, bunked their duties during the Israel-Hamas war and instead came to Delhi. Not much ever comes out of these 2+2s. Or if it does, the general public is kept in the dark.

One thing is for sure. The US sells whatever it has to India. Where it misses out is in arms. The US is desperate to displace Russia and France as India’s chosen partner for defence. One thing for sure that came out from this 2+2 is Pannu. The American side warned the Indians not to go after him. After the Financial Times story broke, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave a craven reply. Oh, we have inputs and we will look into them. Contrast India’s response to Justin Trudeau going to town about India killing Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The US has told India many times to cooperate with Canada and investigate the matter. The Canadians say that they have given Indians the evidence, but that is not enough for the Indians.

Pannu has warned to bomb Air India planes and has asked Sikhs to desist from using Air India. Aeons ago, there was another terrorist, T S Parmar. He too posed a threat to Air India. Indira Gandhi asked the Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s father) to extradite Parmar to India. Pierre refused. Hundreds died in the plane crash engineered by Parmar. Parmar returned to India. Pannu is Parmar redux. I am sure that there are Khalistanis in Canada and India up to no good now.

These people shed tears for their own selves, but nothing for the other. Between 1980-1984, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale (their hero) killed thousands of Hindus in the Punjab. Nobody sheds a tear for those Hindus. But when anti-Sikh riots in 1984 killed thousands, endless tears are shed. India is facing the same issue with the Khalistanis today, except that their nefarious activities this time are mostly in Canada and the US, whose respective governments refuse to do anything to curb their activities.

Our powers that be are so fascinated or afraid of the US that they can only mouth meek inanities. Heaven will not fall if India stands up to US bullying. Some trade might be affected. Some student visas. That’s it. If Pannu makes good on his promise to down an Indian plane, all hell will break loose in India. Whatever will happen will make the 1984 riots seem puny by comparison. Why does the US condone Pannu’s activities and risk thousands of lives in India, beyond of course those that will perish on the plane? I have maintained, and continue to maintain, that India’s all-weather friends are Russia and Israel. They have had our back at all times; we too must have their backs always. The Indian stance in the Russian-Ukrainian war and the Israel-Hamas war is refreshing. Now we need to refresh ties with the US a little bit. Or give them a solid jolt.

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