President George W. Bush
will travel to India and Pakistan in the first part of March.
Although the United States, India, and Pakistan agree on several
issues-such as the war on terrorism and trade issues generally-the
President probably will face some requests that are contrary to
both American interests and international arms control measures.
Additionally, Pakistan and India each tends to view
cooperation between the other country and the U.S. as inimical
to its own interests. President Bush will need to balance the
interests of the two South Asian rivals deftly while also advancing
In Pakistan, the President
must promote democracy and human rights, push for President Pervez
Musharraf to continue economic reforms, and gain firm
government commitments to quash terrorism inside its borders.
In particular, continuing al-Qaeda and Taliban use of the
Waziristan region as a safe haven is a principal reason for
continuing turmoil in Afghanistan.
In India, the President
must promote a trade agreement that integrates India with the
global economy and reduces barriers to U.S.-India trade. He must
demonstrate that he is encouraging Congress to ratify the Next Step
in Strategic Partnership (NSSP), which would increase U.S.-Indian
civil nuclear and space technology exchanges without surrendering
ground on proliferation issues.
In both countries, the
President must support the Kashmir peace process without appearing
to support a specific solution. The President should
coordinate policies with India and Pakistan on a number of
regional security challenges, such as Afghanistan, Nepal,
Burma, and Sri Lanka. He should also encourage both countries to
improve civil-military relations.
Nuclear Cooperation Dilemma
On July 18, 2005,
President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released a
joint statement expanding the sharing of technology in such areas
as space systems and dual-use civilian and defense items, including
nuclear technology. This commitment to nuclear cooperation with
India, as well as expanded defense cooperation, signals a
significant change in U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policy
because India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty (NPT) and admits to possessing nuclear weapons.
In the past, the U.S. has
withheld nuclear cooperation and has severely limited defense
cooperation with countries openly seeking nuclear weapons. Signing
the U.S.-India joint statement means that U.S. nuclear
nonproliferation policy has become more nuanced and discriminating.
The NPT recognizes only five nuclear weapons states (the
United States, China, France, Great Britain, and Russia), but this
no longer accords with the reality that at least four other
countries possess nuclear weapons (Israel, India, Pakistan, and
North Korea) and that Iran is actively seeking to acquire
Furthermore, both India
and Pakistan are rapidly developing countries with growing
energy needs. Meeting the future energy requirements of an
industrializing region of well over a billion people with only
fossil fuels could result in a global ecological disaster and drive
the price of oil and gas through the roof. Providing Pakistan and
India with clean and safe nuclear technology is a priority American
Pakistan and India's de
facto nuclear weapons status is not a U.S. preference, but U.S.
security and nonproliferation policy needs to account for this fact
while not abandoning its preference for universal adherence to the
NPT. U.S. policy must also recognize that the dangers from a
nuclear Iran or North Korea differ from those posed by a nuclear
India. Addressing these pressing security issues is really about
managing relations in a new security environment.
While in India and
Pakistan, President Bush must assure both countries that the United
States will share country-appropriate nuclear technology without
losing sight of American goals for global nonproliferation.
Benefits of Trade
In the 2006 Index of
Economic Freedom, published by The Heritage Foundation and
The Wall Street Journal, both India and Pakistan's economies
were ranked as "mostly unfree." Pakistan's score of 3.33 was
slightly higher than India's 3.49 and lower than the world median
of 3.04 and the Asia-Pacific median score of 3.28. Both
countries maintain crippling trade protection practices, but there
is a growing desire among their policymakers, businesses, and
citizens generally to increase participation in the global
economy and improve cross-border trade.
A U.S. bilateral trade
agreement with both countries would significantly benefit all
three countries. In developing countries, trade agreements with the
United States have proven to be remarkable catalysts for
economic development. For example, since the 2002 U.S.-Vietnam
trade agreement, Vietnamese total exports have soared by 83
percent, from $14.4 billion to $26.5 billion. Vietnam has also
expanded its export markets beyond the U.S. to countries with which
it had not traded prior to the U.S.-Vietnam trade agreement,
including several Middle Eastern, Latin American, and African
Vietnam is not the only
country to experience remarkable economic growth after a trade
agreement with the United States. The same phenomenon is seen in
other countries that have concluded trade agreements with the U.S.
The advantage of an American trade deal is not just lower
trade barriers on a list of products. Agreements negotiated by the
U.S. Trade Representative include structural changes in the
developing country's economies that create efficiencies and
permit rapid economic growth even without large surges in foreign
President needs to stress the importance of India taking a greater
leadership role in the ongoing Doha Round negotiations of the World
Trade Organization and working with the U.S. to complete the round
successfully. Fundamentally, the United States cannot count on
its relationship with Europe to push through the tougher trade
reforms, but negotiations could make some headway if America and
the countries of Asia can find enough common ground.
For President Bush,
pushing trade agreements with both Pakistan and India will not only
improve U.S. trade with those countries, but also most likely have
a favorable effect on cross-border trade between India and
Pakistan-a "win-win-win" situation.
cease-fire has held for more than two years (since November 2003),
but the talks for a peace agreement seem little closer to
resolution than when they began. The official position on
Kashmir has not changed in either country, and neither side
has the political will to compromise on Kashmir. India wants
to establish the Line of Control (LOC)-the military line that
divides Kashmir-as the permanent international border between
Pakistan and India. On the other hand, Pakistan refuses to
accept the LOC as the permanent border. Pakistan is desperately
trying to gain American involvement in resolving the issue, while
India steadfastly opposes any third-party interference.
Despite this seeming
conundrum, diplomatic progress has been steady since November 2003.
In January 2004, Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee
spent an hour in talks with Pakistani President
Musharraf-their first meeting since 2001. India and Pakistan began
formal talks in February 2004. In June, they established a hotline,
and both countries renewed their ban on nuclear testing. In
September and October 2004, Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh, Vajpayee's successor, met for talks and discussed
options for resolving the dispute.
A year after the
cease-fire, India felt safe enough to begin withdrawing troops from
the border. In February 2005, Delhi and Islamabad launched a bus
service across the cease-fire line, reuniting families divided by
conflict. In April 2005, Musharraf and Singh signed a
declaration that the peace process was irreversible. In October
2005, India and Pakistan signed two security cooperation accords.
The agreements include advanced warning of ballistic missile
tests and setting up a hotline between their border guards.
Finally, in January 2006, the two countries renewed direct railroad
Over the past two years,
cross-border terrorist attacks from Pakistan into India have
declined by more than 60 percent, although a new
anti-infiltration fence along the border may have had as much
to do with the reductions as the change in politics has had. Both
sides are also working toward greater economic
Although final resolution
of the question of Kashmir seems distant, there appears to be
little desire for a return to military confrontation. Peace between
Pakistan and India is a key American interest, and letting them
work it out peacefully between themselves is the best course
for American policy.
According to the State
Department's Human Rights Report, Pakistan's human rights record
remains poor. While President Bush is in Pakistan, he needs to
convey a firm message that abuses of human rights by the government
aggravate Pakistan's chronic political instability, contribute
to the terrorists' grievances, and hinder U.S. efforts to improve
government and firm civilian control of the military, India's armed
forces have a terrible human rights record. The principal problem
is that Indian law protects members of the armed forces and the
civil service from prosecution.
President Bush should
recognize, along with Prime Minister Singh, that individual acts of
illegal brutality are difficult to avoid in wartime, but the
government should not condone the acts or protect the guilty when
abuses do occur. An open and transparent examination of each case
is the best way to prevent future occurrences. Adjusting legal
structures to hold soldiers and government officials accountable
for their actions can minimize future human rights abuses, and
respect for the rights of all people is an important yardstick by
which to measure great powers.
Strategy to Restore Democracy in Nepal
Since King Gyanendra
seized absolute power in 2005, there has been intense diplomatic
activity to resolve Nepal's decade-long crisis. India and the
United States initially opposed the Maoist insurgency, and both
countries urged unity between political parties and the monarchy.
However, instead of an agreement with the king, the opposition
political parties signed a Twelve-Point Letter of Understanding
with the communist rebels in November 2005, agreeing to "fight"
jointly for a constituent assembly to write a new "democratic"
After intense American and
Indian pressure, Nepal's royalist government held the country's
first elections in seven years on February 8, 2006. These municipal
elections were supposed to lead to national elections in 2007.
Instead, the Maoists and the alliance of democratic parties
announced boycotts of the elections, fearing that the king was
using the election process to legitimize his
Even before the polling
started, 55 percent of the seats had no candidates running, and
another 30 percent had only one candidate. On election day, voter
turnout in Katmandu was estimated at only 15 percent to 25 percent,
while polling stations outside the capital attracted half that
number. In comparison, the voter turnout in the last election in
1999 was an estimated 66 percent. The elections were
an embarrassment to the monarchy and undermined Washington and
Delhi's policy of reconciling the king with the
Finally, Beijing has
stepped into the Nepal crisis and firmly supports the king against
the Maoist insurgents and the democratic parties. Beijing views its
relations with Nepal through the lens of the perceived need to
preserve control of Tibet. In exchange for unquestioned Chinese
support, Gyanendra shut down the Tibetan government in exile that
had operated in Nepal for 53 years and began persecuting Tibetan
refugees, including forced repatriations.
China is also giving
direct military aid to the Royal Nepal Army (RNA). The amount of
military aid is unknown, but the effect has already been felt in
Katmandu. Before the elections, seven political parties
announced that they would defy a ban on demonstrations. In
response, the RNA announced a curfew, and soldiers were seen in the
streets of Katmandu, patrolling in Chinese-supplied armored
India was one of the first
governments to declare the Maoists "terrorists," yet it is widely
known that insurgent leaders spend considerable time in India. In
fact, the meeting between Nepali opposition parties and the
Maoist leaders took place in New Delhi. India denies having prior
knowledge of the meeting.
Indian and American policy
toward Nepal is on the horns of a dilemma. Supporting the
democratic opposition parties indirectly allies Washington and New
Delhi with Nepal's communist insurgents, who have shown no regard
for the rule of law or human rights. On the other hand, supporting
the unpopular king and the brutal RNA undermines democracy and
indirectly supports Beijing's policy of oppressing
While in India, President
Bush should consult closely with Prime Minister Singh to craft a
humane policy toward Nepal that is open to all indigenous political
forces and restores democracy. It is entirely proper to allow India
to take the lead in formulating such a policy.
in Afghanistan and Kashmir
The defeat and ouster of
the Taliban in 2001 caused many al-Qaeda members to flee to
neighboring Pakistan, where they have been hidden and assisted
by Pakistani sympathizers who seek to build radical Islamic states
in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Before September 11, 2001,
the motivation for some elements of the Pakistan military to
support al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups was Pakistan's foreign
policy. The army, particularly the intelligence services,
wanted to control Afghanistan through the Taliban and wrest Kashmir
from India by supporting a pan-Islamic insurgency that included
Under the Musharraf
government, Pakistan has cracked down on al-Qaeda, but not on the
Taliban or Pakistani Islamic extremist movements. Although the army
has moved 80,000 troops into the Afghanistan border region, the
area north of the Khyber Pass is still lightly defended.
According to Indian intelligence reports, Waziristan is the
suspected hideout of al-Qaeda leadership and Taliban
When the President visits
Pakistan, he should agree to boost aid to the Musharraf government
if it clamps down on radical Pakistani Islamic organizations
that continue to support insurgents in neighboring Kashmir and
Afghanistan. Islamabad also needs help both in reforming the
network of radical Islamic madrassas (religious schools) that
support the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other extremist
organizations and in reducing drug smuggling and other illicit
means that terrorist groups use to raise funds.
democratic opposition parties by and large are not Islamic
extremists and need some gesture of support and recognition from
the United States. While in Islamabad, President Bush should meet
with the moderate opposition parties, address the full parliament,
and take the opportunity to speak directly to the Pakistani
people. A democratic Pakistan will be far less likely to host
or support terrorists.
Bring India on Board
The President's trip to
India is an opportunity to find common ground with India on
restoring democracy to Burma.
India and Burma share a
1,000-mile border with a swarm of problems. Burma is the
cross-border host to the National Socialist Council of
Nagaland (NSCN), a major Indian insurgency that is financed by
drug and weapons trafficking and leads an ethnic insurgency in
northeast India. Another perceived problem is China's economic
dominance in northern Burma and military presence on Burmese
territory. In particular, the Chinese reportedly have been
building roads, surveying possible naval bases, and supplying the
Burmese with upgraded naval infrastructures and electronic
surveillance facilities along the Burmese coasts. Many Indian defense analysts
view China's actions, particularly its military presence, as a
potential threat to India.
Since the launch in the
early 1990s of India's Look East policy aimed at promoting closer
relations with Southeast Asia, India has gradually abandoned
its support for Burma's democratic transition and begun to engage
the Burmese junta, which calls itself the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC).
Burma's entry into the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the launch of the
India-ASEAN summit contributed to increasing dialogue between the
two countries. India and Burma signed a memorandum of understanding
in October 2004 to cooperate on non-traditional security issues
such as terrorism, arms smuggling, drug trafficking, and
Despite more than 10 years
of realpolitik toward the SPDC, the policy has not advanced India's
interests. India's border security is actually worse. After Thai
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced the war against
drugs in February 2003, mobile heroin laboratories near the
Thai-Burmese border were reportedly moved to the Indian side of the
country. Furthermore, China's presence in
Burma has not decreased, and despite claims to the contrary, Indian
politicians cannot demonstrate any influence over the behavior
of the SPDC.
While in New Delhi,
President Bush should consult with Prime Minister Singh to
craft a joint and mutually supportive policy that supports national
reconciliation and an end to tyranny in Burma.
Crisis in Sri Lanka
Ever since Sri Lankan
President Ranil Rajapakse took office in November 2005, he has
advocated a hard line toward negotiations with the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the rebel group leading the Tamil
side of Sri Lanka's civil war. Rajapakse ruled out the possibility
of the rebel demand for Tamil autonomy, vowed to review the 2002
cease-fire, and indicated that Norway will no longer play a role as
a peace broker. He also promised to tear up the deal that his
predecessor Chandrika Kumaratunga made with the rebels on
distributing international aid to the victims of the December 2004
stance has led to an upsurge in violence between the rebels and the
military, and more than 120 people have been killed. The
government blames the rebels for the series of attacks in the
Tamil-dominated northern and eastern areas. The rebels deny
the charge but praise the "popular uprising" of the
The Sri Lankan government
and the Tamil Tiger rebels will meet again for talks in Geneva-the
first in three years-on February 22-23. The two days of talks are
aimed at boosting a four-year truce and avoiding a return to civil
While in South Asia,
President Bush should consult with Pakistan and India about
the growing crisis in Sri Lanka. President Bush and his Indian
and Pakistani counterparts should encourage both sides to honor the
cease-fire agreement and seek a political solution to the civil
During President Bush's
visit, President Musharraf will likely want to discuss
bilateral trade and try to secure a deal on nuclear technology like
the one with India.
Open negotiations for a
bilateral trade agreement. Over the past year, President Musharraf
has implemented substantial economic reform. The World Bank
reported that Pakistan lowered its average tariff from 15.2 percent
to 13 percent. Privatization of some of Pakistan's largest
public-sector companies has provided another boost to the economy.
Pakistan's score in the Index of Economic Freedom jumped
from 3.73 in 2005 to 3.33 in 2006, moving it up the Index
from 133 to 110 out of the 157 rated countries. President Musharraf
will be receptive and appreciative of opportunities to increase
A nuclear deal like
India's. Pakistan will
use its relationship with Iran and the war on terrorism to
increase leeway on nuclear power arrangements and gain more
American military hardware. Pakistan hints it is willing to cancel
its pipeline project linking Iran with India if Washington agrees
to a nuclear deal. Pakistan voted with the United States against
Iran in February when the International Atomic Energy Agency met to
refer Iran's nuclear violations to the U.N. Security Council.
Prime Minister Singh will
likely want to discuss bilateral trade, nuclear technology
transfer, and India's bid for a permanent seat on the Security
A bilateral trade
deal. The Congress
Party initiated economic reforms in 1991, resulting in
economic growth rates exceeding any since the achievement of
India's independence. However, the first round of reforms has
plateaued, and a second generation is needed if India is to
catch up with the rest of the developing world. A bilateral
trade agreement with the U.S. would breathe new life into India's
economic reforms and provide an excuse for painful
The NSSP ratified by
Minister Singh views passage of the Next Step in
Strategic Partnership as the cornerstone of India's rise as a
great power and a test of an India-U.S. alliance. The accord lifted
U.S. bans on nuclear technology transfers to India that were
imposed after India conducted nuclear tests in 1998. Under the
agreement, U.S. companies will be allowed to build nuclear power
plants in India and supply fuel for nuclear reactors. In return,
India would gain access to U.S. civilian nuclear technology. The
agreement needs to be approved by Congress and the 44-member
Nuclear Suppliers Group.
Permanent seat on the U.N.
Security Council. From India's point of view, a permanent
seat on the Security Council would confirm India's vision of being
a nuclear power and major actor on the world stage. Indians argue
that participation in international peacekeeping and links
with troubled countries like Iran, Syria, and Libya make New Delhi
a valuable partner and ally to Washington on the Security
Council. American critics would argue
that India's links with pariah states like Burma, Iran, and Syria,
plus its appalling record of voting against the United States in
the United Nations, would add to American troubles in the Security
Council if India became a permanent member.
Administration Should Do
During his trip to India
and Pakistan, President Bush should:
Broaden trade relations with both countries by
committing both countries to trade negotiations that will
reduce trade barriers and protect property rights;
Meet the legitimate energy and technology
requirements of Pakistan and India without compromising on nuclear
weapon controls or committing to equal deals for both
Wring more commitments from Pakistan in the
fight against terrorism, particularly on controlling the
Afghanistan border area north of the Khyber Pass;
Deepen military engagement with India to
include exercises, education exchanges, and sales of conventional
military technology and weapons;
Encourage India and Pakistan to reduce abuses of
Applaud the current Kashmir cease-fire and
encourage formal and regular talks between India and Pakistan on
the border issues;
Promote a democratic Pakistan by meeting with
moderate opposition political parties, addressing Pakistan's
parliament, and speaking directly to the Pakistan people in a
national television address; and
Consult with Pakistani and Indian
counterparts on Afghanistan, Burma, Nepal, and Sri Lanka to
establish processes that will lead to mutually supporting
The President's trip to
India and Pakistan is a historic opportunity to lay the
groundwork for regional peace and economic development. Both India
and Pakistan are in positions in which good relations with the
United States would benefit their own policies. Although sticky
issues remain to be resolved, with a carefully choreographed visit,
the President can expect great results.
Dillon is Senior Policy Analyst for Southeast
Asia in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage
are ranked on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the highest level
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