What are the top three issues the new administration will have to deal with in relations with India?
We asked Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington think-tank. Here’s what she had to say:
The Obama administration will have to immediately deal with the current India-Pakistan crisis created by the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
The US has been pressing Pakistan to take action against the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice. Pakistan, however, has focused on trying to deflect attention from itself, rather than on pursuing investigations into the attacks. It will be important for the Obama team to signal right away that it expects Pakistan to shut down the LET altogether to avoid further attacks like those in Mumbai.
The Obama team will also have to keep up the pace of high-level visits to the region to prevent the potential for military conflict between India and Pakistan and to try to keep the lines of communication between the two countries open.
The Obama team has already established that it will focus greater attention and resources on stabilising and securing Afghanistan.
It should coordinate closely with the Indian leadership as it reviews the strategy for Afghanistan, recognising India’s stakes in the region, along with other countries in the neighbourhood.
3. Establishing India’s strategic role in Asia.
It will be important for Obama to signal early on that his administration is committted to building the strategic relationship between the United States and India. It is not yet clear that Obama has the same vision and force of determination to extend the partnership that we saw from Bush, epsecially in the way he personally pushed forward the civil nuclear deal.
Obama should somehow demonstrate that he takes the US relationship with India seriously and recognises the important role India can play in promoting stability in the broader Asian region.