From helping Pak in 1971 war to backing India in 2016: How US has taken a U-turn

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Like the water in the sea, international relations are also never static. In 1971, when India and Pakistan locked horns over the liberation of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), the United States backed Islamabad both politically with logistically to ensure that the erstwhile Soviet Union, which backed India, did not gain a foothold in South Asia through the Bangladesh liberation struggle.

Flashback 1971: When US-Pak-China axis took on India over Bangladesh

The US was also aiming for a rapproachement with the Chinese at the time and the Washington-Islamabad-Beijing axis tried to stop New Delhi's victory and the latter signed a friendhip treaty with Moscow to thwart the attempt. [Obama must support Modi on the Chabahar deal with Iran]


The then Nixon Administration in the US had deployed the US Task Force 74 led by USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal to come to aid of the beleaguered Pakistani forces. The US also tried to convince China to mobilise forces against India which the latter did not.

The Soviet Union also counter-deployed its cruisers, destroyers and submarine and the heat of the Cold War almost led to a fire in South Asia. [PM Modi is slowly isolating Pakistan]

Fast forward to 2016: US now wants Indian Navy by its side to counter China

Fast forward to 2016. US Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, said Washington is looking forward to gain support from India and other regional players to continue its patrolling in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. [Chabahar pact will only see a bull-headed Pakistan left in isolation]

On Sunday, the Washington Post said: "In the not too distant future, American and Indian Navy vessels steaming together will become a common and welcome sight throughout Indo-Asia-Pacific waters," he said, "as we work together to maintain freedom of the seas for all nations."

The aim is simple: To counter the rise of the Chinese.

India holds more number of military exercises with the US than with any other country and the two are working to expand their cooperation. [Why Modi's latest US visit is crucial]

India-US relations have come of age

New Delhi, though ruled out joint patrols with the US in April, agreed to allow the US to use its military bases in lieu of weapons technology to help it reduce the gap with Beijing.

The Americans have also backed India's membership in the NSG, something which again is a complete U-turn from what it was during India's nuclear experiments. In recent times, Washington has also shown much indifference towards Pakistan, its one-time ally to check the rise of the Soviets.

In terms of international relations, it is quite unprecedented. Compared to 1971 it is a complete paradigm shift in India-US relations.

Modi-Obama equations are a complete anti-thesis to Indira-Nixon

Since the days of Indira Gandhi and Richard Nixon, who did not have the best of regards for each other to today when Narendra Modi and Barack Obama have come closest in the diplomatic history of the two countries---the journey has come full circle.

It is also striking to see that Modi and Obama are making the most of the latter's remaining days in the office so that the advancements in the bilateral ties are kept updated as much as possible.

From days of ideological and military warfare, it is about democracy and economy today

Couldn't India have written this script long time back? More than military, the growing India-US camaraderie in today's world is about democracy and economy.

From the days of Indira-Nixon, Modi & Obama have rediscovered a frozen relation

While Pakistan has remained a client state and failed to assure the US in the chaotic uni-multipolar world which prevails today, thanks to its own political and economic vulnerability, China has evolved as a big threat for the Americans in the economic field. To counter Beijing, New Delhi is a more preferred friend than Islamabad for Washington because of the regional strategic complications involving India, Pakistan and China.

India-US gap has reduced in the post-liberalisation era for obvious reasons

Prior to PV Narasimha Rao premiership when post-liberalisation India started to look up to the US and the West for obvious reasons, the equation of international relations was dominated more by ideological and military-strategic considerations.

From the time of Jawaharlal Nehru to Chandra Sekhar, the Indian establishment had dreaded the thought of a good relation with the US, thanks to the non-alignment legacy.

But since Rao to today's Modi (with a two-year interregnum in between when India carried out the Pokhran II tests but Atal Behari Vajpayee did great in regaining India's lost ground), New Delhi's foreign policy perspective has undergone a sea change. It is definitely a new dawn in India's foreign policy orientation and the country needs to make up for the lost time over the years.

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