India’s relations with the US have taken a step forward especially with regard to Pakistan. President Barack Obama urged Pakistan not to treat India as its mortal enemy. It should give up its Afghan-India paranoia. Islamabad should realise that a peaceful approach should be in everybody’s interest. Obama said that Pakistan saw its security threatened by an independent Afghanistan because it thought that the latter would align itself with India. Obama tried to clear the air about the mistrust between the US and Pakistan created by his former military chief Mike Mullen who said that the Pakistani ISI had used the Haqqani network as its veritable arm. The President noted that some of the biggest problems facing Pakistan were poverty, illiteracy and lack of development. Civil institutions in that country were not strong enough to deliver.
Obama emphasised that such a socio-economic environment in Pakistan encouraged the emergence of extremism. Militancy in that country not merely threatened US efforts to bring about peace in Afghanistan but was also inimical to the Pakistan government and people. Obama said that his administration would constantly evaluate its relations with Pakistan. But while there had been a long-standing strategic relationship between the two countries, there were misgivings in Washington. What is a pity is that Pakistan’s Intelligence Service is making poor decisions. India is also a victim of terror allegedly encouraged by the ISI. If such terrorist incursions into India did not stop, it would be difficult for New Delhi to go ahead with bilateral talks in which it is keenly interested. It is encouraging that the US and India share the same view and if Pakistan appreciates its value, that will be the most welcome political development during the festive season in India.