Author Archive

Trade and India-U.S. Relations

Mumbai port:

Trade and more generally economic relations have been a major driver of U.S.-India relations in the past decade. U.S. exports to India have grown nearly sevenfold. This makes the relationship important to both sides, and provides a degree of stability that was unknown in earlier times. This expansion is not unique to the United States: the two biggest growth stories in Indian trade are China and the oil producing countries of the Persian Gulf.

Growing trade has not eliminated trade problems, nor does it translate into easier dealings in multilateral settings. One way to address periodic frustration about stubborn trade problems would be to open the lens a bit, and work toward a more ambitious long term goal, such as a free trade agreement. It’s a difficult challenge, but steps along that path could be hugely beneficial to both countries.

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Pakistan: Escaping a Failing Orbit

In Why Nations Fail (New York: Crown Business, 2012), Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue that sustained growth depends primarily on “inclusive institutions” that bring pluralism into government. It is these political and economic structures, more than resource endowments, knowledge, financing, foreign aid, or a variety of other factors, that the authors believe account for a country’s prosperity or poverty. This paper looks at Pakistan through their lens. There is good evidence that Pakistan lacks the kind of institutions the authors associate with lasting prosperity. However, Pakistan’s troubles are compounded by some factors that the authors do not take into account, such as stubborn insecurity and ethnic fragmentation. Encouraging entrepreneurship and expanding the middle class may be the most effective long term remedy.

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Book Reviews: Lashkar-e-Taiba; Indian Military History

Photo by Todd Huffman,

Two very different, but quite compelling, books on the military problems of the region: Stephen Tankel’s Storming the World Stage traces the history of Lashkar-e-Taiba and its complex relationship with the Pakistan army, concluding that this is unlikely to change; and Srinath Raghavan’s War and Peace in Modern India recounts in elegant detail the diplomatic and military history of the conflicts that peppered the first fifteen years of India’s independence.

Read both – but to get more of the flavor of them, read the review by Teresita Schaffer.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©. The International Institute for Strategic Studies; Survival: Global Politics and Strategy is available online at: .

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Book reviews: Boo, Inskeep and Berenschot on South Asian Cities

Mumbai, from Flickr,

Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers is an unforgettable walk through the Annawadi neighborhood, next to Mumbai’s airport. Ward Berenschot’s Riot Politics links the ever-present search for patronage in India’s cities to the grisly communal violence that breaks out there from time to time . Steve Inskeep’s Instant City weaves together the ethnic stew, political infighting and scarcity that make up Karachi.

To whet your appetite for all three, see Teresita Schaffer’s review. This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©. The International Institute for Strategic Studies; Survival: Global Politics and Strategy is available online at: .

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The U.S. and Pakistan: “Divorce”?

From Flickr,

Pakistan’s colorful former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, created a flutter of excitement in a recent presentation by calling for a “divorce” between the two countries – and urging them to find “friendship outside the marital bond.” His analysis of this dysfunctional relationship tracks well with our book, How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States: Riding the Roller Coaster. Our preferred solution would be different, however: we focus more on the content of the new friendship. As a new U.S. ambassador prepares to arrive in Islamabad, the United States needs to build up aspects of its relationship that do not revolve around Afghanistan, while developing an Afghanistan strategy that is realistic about Islamabad’s goals. These differ sharply from Washington’s.

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India and the U.S.: Expanding Strategic Partnership

Photo by Aquaview, flickr,

The most important result of the India-U.S. strategic dialogue is the expansion of serious bilateral conversations about problems outside the immediate South Asian neighborhood. The two countries need to extend this strategic conversation, especially to difficult issues like Iran and Pakistan.

Read our op-ed article, published in The Hindu June 26, 2012.

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India and China: Still Unmatched

Gwydion M. Williams,

Indian Foreign Minister Krishna’s visit to Beijing is showcasing the positive in India-China relations. A recent visit to Beijing and Shanghai after a long absence gave us a more complicated picture of how the rise of India and China, so central to U.S. strategic thinking, looks from the east. India is taken more seriously in China than ten years ago, but is still not seen as an equal. The United States accepts India’s global ambitions; China dismisses them as “dreams.” China works best with India on global issues, the reverse of the U.S. experience, where bilateral ties are best and global collaboration weak.

Read our article published in The Hindu June 7, 2012.

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The Kashmir Interlocutors Report – But Who Will Listen?

By Jenny Mackness,

June 1, 2012: In the summer of 2010, riots of youth throwing stones and calling for “azadi” – freedom from Indian rule – convulsed the Valley of Kashmir. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pleaded eloquently to “give peace a chance,” and appointed a panel of three “Interlocutors” to assess public opinion in the state and make recommendations to resolve its seemingly intractable problems. On May 24, the Indian government finally released the report the panel had submitted to it seven months earlier. The long delay suggests that the report, despite the good sense in many of its recommendations, will join a long list of missed opportunities to transform political relations between New Delhi and Srinagar.

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Pakistan’s New Player

President Obama and PM Gilani,

The Pakistan parliament has now completed its action on a resolution defining the terms of reference for future Pakistan-U.S. relations, adopting it without formal dissent. Action now passes to the Pakistani cabinet, which must formally initiate discussions with the United States. All eyes will be on how the U.S. and Pakistani governments negotiate the actual working of this troubled relationship. The parliament’s central role in this process also tells us about some things that have changed – and some that have not – in the way Pakistan’s government institutions work, both internally and with the United States. Both countries should take this opportunity to revise their well-practiced negotiating tactics, which have become a recipe for failure.

Read our article, published on April 23, 2012.

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Manmohan Singh and Asif Zardari: A Hopeful Encounter

Photo by radicaleye,

April 10, 2012: Four months ago, Pakistani president Asif Zardari’s trip to Dubai for medical treatment sparked intense rumors of a military coup. Last weekend, Zardari lunched in Delhi with Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and was photographed wearing a flamboyant turban at a renowned Sufi shrine at Ajmer in Rajasthan. What happened and what does it mean?

No one, least of all two longtime observers of the South Asia scene like us, expected to see India-Pakistan relations transformed by this Easter Sunday luncheon in New Delhi, the first meeting in a bilateral setting between the top leaders of India and Pakistan in seven years. But the brief summit session usefully highlighted the accelerating strengthening of ties over the past year or so. It also raised hopes that further progress can be achieved if the two sides persist in the sensible, unspectacular approach they have recently followed. Read more

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