by Ramananda Sengupta

NEW DELHI: The reference to India’s “emergence as a leading global power” in the US National Security Strategy unveiled by US President Donald Trump recently has led to some analysts claiming that it raises India’s status from a regional power to the international top table. Former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal, however, differs.

“That would be a bit of an exaggeration. America is talking about the US, Australia, Japan and India getting together in the Indo-Pacific, in the context of a rising China. India is being looked up on as a player outside South Asia and even outside the Indian Ocean. The idea is to push us towards taking security responsibilities in the western Pacific, and India and US teaming up in Africa,” Sibal said. 

“If you talk about global power, or global responsibility, there’s a whole world beyond this, including trans-Atlantic region and Latin America. They are negative about Russia and we have an important relationship with it. Similarly, we differ over Iran. When they talk about a global power, it means a convergence of interests at the global level, but that’s not there,” he said. 

“Plus, they have to make up their minds about Pakistan,” Sibal said.

“While they are making strong noises, they also want a partnership. Then there are nuclear threats the Pakistani NSA unleashed recently. What is disquieting about their national review is that when they talk about their concern over a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, it’s as if both are responsible.

Yes, there’s support for India’s role in the region and a clear desire to publicise India as a partner of the US. But we should not get taken in beyond a point.” 

“Who are they to certify us as a power, great or otherwise?” asked MK Bhadrakumar, a former diplomat. “If they see China as a revisionist power and India as a great power, then why couldn't they have opened their mouth over Doklam?”

Referring to US concerns over nuclear conflict in South Asia, he said, “It’s a contradiction to call us a great power, then say they will pressure us to avoid a nuclear war.”