Obama visiting India
A. Sattar Alvi
Generally speaking, the US is a fairly moderate and liberal country, one that most people can visit without any complications or difficulties. Mr Modi, the Indian Prime Minister (PM), however, remained on its persona non grata list for a number of years. This must be for some very good reasons. It would be safe to assume that when he shook hands with US officials in the recent past, it must have been with gritted teeth. And now, quite unexpectedly, he invites the US president to visit India and be a guest at the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi. Obama has accepted the invitation and arrangements are in full swing.
Politics is indeed strange and its actors even more strange. To a patriotic person, national priorities come first and the self much later. If there existed good chances of collaboration with the US in defence technology, co-production and co-development of critical defence systems, civil nuclear deals and in other areas of science and technology, as they appear to be in this case, one would be tempted to swallow one’s pride. Mr Modi has done just that and the US’s objections to his person seem to have evaporated. The implications for Pakistan are another issue that needs to be discussed separately at a later stage.
What we need to examine at this moment are the statements emanating out of India pertaining to the security and safe conduct of Obama’s visit in as much as Pakistan is concerned. The Indian security agencies have warned that there is a threat to the lives of Obama and Modi from Islamic State (IS), al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and that some attacks could materialise against soft targets in Jammu, Kashmir and Delhi areas. GOC No 16 Corps of the Indian army, Lietenant General K H Singh, has given a definitive statement. According to him, 200 militants are poised across the border on Pakistani soil and ready to infiltrate and attack targets in Kashmir and New Delhi. He adds that militants are being supported by the Pakistani establishment, army and the ISI. There you have it: Pakistan is involved.
Obama’s address during his stay in India is planned to take place at the Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi. The security arrangements preceding his visit and during his stay in India are nothing less than a nightmare for an ordinary person’s comprehension. Thirteen transport aircraft and four helicopters have already offloaded the equipment and 20 to 25 cars in India are ready for the visit. Thirty-four warships and an aircraft carrier will stand guard in the Arabian Sea. The Indian government is going to deploy 80,000 policemen, 10,000 paramilitary troops and snipers. The combined security arrangements are being handled by the US Secret Service, CIA, FBI, NSA and Navy Seals from the US and IB, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), ATC, police and paramilitary forces from the Indian side. On top of all these arrangements, Obama is going to take a five-minute drive from his hotel to the parade ground alone, again for security reasons. All that has been said above indicates four things.
The US lacks confidence in the Indian security apparatus. It is concerned about the law and order situation in India due to multiple insurgencies there and the violent threat from them. India is being proactive. It may set the stage to blame Pakistan for an untoward incident that might occur during Obama’s visit, essentially as a result of poor Indian security arrangements. The US authorities are pressurising India to provide adequate security to seek balance elsewhere. How ridiculous can the Indian accusation be, without any sort of indication, logic or even an iota of evidence? Whilst Pakistan grapples with its own problems of countering terrorist attacks within the country, India is trying to light another fire in order to cover its own tail.
The real reason for these fabricated allegations lies elsewhere. India has insurgent activities going on in 20 out of its 29 states. These are armed insurgencies and some of them aim to overthrow the current system of government to install their own choice. The others include restoration of basic rights, independence and justice. Quite understandably, the Indian administration has a reason to worry about the security of Obama. Any untoward incident during the visit of a high profile person like Obama will internationalise the issue to the chagrin of the Indian government. Mischief-makers would love this scenario.
Therefore, the drama of using Pakistan as a scapegoat for sponsorship of the anticipated event must be activated in time to say later that India had already known and warned the world. I hope our people have noted the situation and are doing something about it.