Indo-US relations Growing Stronger, Pakistan 'Not Worried'

By T.C. Malhotra | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

New Delhi ( - Strengthening ties between India and the United States reflect U.S. concerns about growing collaboration between China and a traditional American ally in the region, Pakistan, Indian analysts believe.

Warmer relations between New Delhi and Washington became evident during Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's just-completed visit to the U.S., in which President Clinton heaped praise on his Indian guest.

Pakistan, however, says it is not concerned by the developing Indo-U.S. partnership.

Clinton has urged India to take a larger role in the South Asian region, calling it "the strongest democracy."

"With your leadership and the efforts of so many people, we have together built the strongest, most mature partnership India and America have ever known," he told Vajpayee in Washington.

"It is more than a slogan for Americans to say that India's success is our success and that together India and America can change the world," Clinton added.

Vajpayee replied: "In the century that we left behind we saw many ideas compete for the soul of this world. We know today that it is the ideas of Gandhi and Woodrow Wilson that will triumph. We know that America and India stand on the right side of history."

The Indian premier said India was becoming increasingly recognized as a "responsible and stabilizing" force in Asia.

"Our concerns over South Asia are also gaining increasing acceptance. Without doubt, there is now a repositioning of India in global and regional affairs," he added.

During the Cold War, India enjoyed close relations with the Soviet Union, while the U.S. courted India's neighbor and rival, Pakistan.

Islamabad has nonetheless shrugged off the improving relationship between India and the U.S.

"My view is that our relations with United States should be seen independently and it should not be hooked on to US-India relationship," Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf told a news conference last week on his return from the United Nations millennium summit.

"We would maintain relations with United States independent of Indian relationship with them," he said, speaking just hours after Vajpayee addressed both Houses of Congress.

Pakistan's Information Minister Javed Jabbar told the BBC the "long-standing [and] multi-faceted" Pakistan-U.S. relations would survive any "new relationships."

Indian analysts say the development of stronger ties between India and the U.S. should be seen in the larger context of growing Sino-Pakistan relations.

"China remains reluctant to associate itself with India in the war against international terrorism, and unwilling to publicly criticize Pakistan for promoting the forces of extremism," international affairs analyst C. Rajamohan said in New Delhi Monday.

Another New Delhi-based analyst, Rahul Banerjee said "the tilting of U.S. support towards India may be seen in the light of the reported military support provided by China to Pakistan. The U.S. ... is critical of this development."

The post-Cold War era has seen Chinese military collaboration with Pakistan. It was reported recently that China was helping Pakistan develop its long-range missile program, and the U.S. government has criticized China for aiding Pakistani nuclear proliferation.

Concern about China's alleged illicit arms transfer to countries such as Pakistan and Iran is one reason U.S. Senators are holding up a bill which would grant Beijing permanent normal trade relations status.

The U.S. administration has also expressed disquiet about the deteriorating security situation in South Asia, where two new nuclear powers continue to fight over disputed Kashmir.

Indian defense analyst, T.P. Rajagopalan believes Washington is inclined towards India's stance in the disagreement.

"The U.S. president has shown understanding of the Indian position," he said. "Washington was concerned that there were tensions in the South Asian region and it was increasingly becoming clear that U.S. wanted to see better relations between India and Pakistan for reducing the tension in the region."

U.S. officials in recent months are reported to have been involved in behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions in Kashmir, a territory divided between India and Pakistan, but wholly claimed by both.

India accuses Pakistan of supporting Kashmiri separatist terrorists, but refuses to include Pakistan in any talks with Kashmiris aimed at ending the conflict, which has claimed more than 30,000 lives.