The US’s strategy towards Pakistan over the past decade, which involves providing it economic and military help in a bid to influence its behaviour, has failed, said Robert Blackwill, a former U.S. ambassador to India, on Monday.
For that reason, this is a very good time for the US to reconsider its strategy towards Pakistan, he said, during a talk titled ‘Does India have a grand strategy?’ in south Mumbai. India should evolve a sophisticated alternative for the U.S. instead of merely offering it “bumper-sticker advice” that it should just “give Pakistan an ultimatum.”
Indeed, while India had strategies to deal with most of its vital national interests, such as bringing the masses out of poverty and dealing with internal security threats, it did not have a grand strategy to “diminish the terrorist threat emanating from Pakistan," he said.
Blackwill defined a “grand strategy” as “the art of pursuing national goals in way that improves a nation’s ability to shape and cope with the conditions of an ever-changing international environment.”
“Pakistan has used terrorism as an instrument of policy against India for twenty years to try to press India into flexibility over Kashmir,” said Blackwill, a long-standing pro-India diplomat.
“An objective observer would say that this has not succeeded. Yet cross-border terrorist infiltration continues from Pakistan… It remains to be seen whether this twenty-year display of extraordinary restraint by India is going to continue.”
In contrast with its strategy towards Pakistan, India does have grand strategies towards the U.S. and China, he said. India’s decade-long, two-pronged grand strategy towards the US is to develop ever-closer ties while maintaining ITS freedom of action in the global arena.
“It’s working, despite the challenges,” he said, adding that disagreements over the future of Afghanistan, how to deal with China and outsourcing were just blips in an otherwise ever-deepening relationship. With respect to China, India tries to promote a positive, long-term relationship with Beijing, while hedging against a less than positive response, he said.
But both New Delhi and Washington are struggling over almost 18 months to develop a more aggressive set of policies in response to China’s various actions. For India, there was undoubtedly a “negative trend” in China’s treatment of border issues and Kashmir, he said.