'US must continue to bet on India after 2014'
The United States must continue to bet on India, while managing expectations, after the 2014 military drawdown in Afghanistan, suggests a new report on Washington's post-2014 South Asia strategy.
"India requires sustained high-level attention, but also a structured US approach to the Indo-US bilateral relationship, said the Asia Society report, The United States and South Asia after Afghanistan, released Monday.
"This approach needs to accurately judge how much US and Indian interests will converge and how best to manage the tone of political and diplomatic engagement," it said making seven key recommendations to Washington.
The report, written by Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Fellow Alexander Evans, finds that a unique opportunity exists for the Obama administration to forge a more strategic, integrated, and successful policy toward South Asia.
According to the report, the United States will best position itself for success after the 2014 military drawdown in Afghanistan by taking a fresh approach to South Asia that considers each country on its own merits and avoids hyphenated "Indo-Pak," "Af-Pak," or "China-India" policies.
The fresh approach also needs to think regionally about economic, security, and political issues; connect South Asia to an overall Asia strategy; and integrate diplomatic, defence, and development policy agendas, it said.
In other recommendations, the report says an enhanced approach to regional strategy that incorporates South and East Asia is needed to improve the capacity for US strategy toward South Asia.
It also suggests a better connect between US East Asia and South Asia policy both through cross-postings and by establishing a mechanism for cross-bureau Asia policy with career incentives introduced to encourage diplomats to serve in China and India or Pakistan.
The report recommends development of a "realistic, medium-term Pakistan strategy. In the short term, Washington needs to continue to work with Islamabad on counterterrorism and the drawdown in Afghanistan."
"In the medium to longer term, the United States needs to establish an approach to Pakistan that delivers on vital US interests."
It also suggests integration of counterterrorism and regional policy through cross-posting officials between the two areas.
"The more that agencies leading on counterterrorism can draw on regional expertise-not least to think through the consequences of different actions-the better integrated foreign and security policy can be," it said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)