By K.N. Pandita
Secretary of State’s recent visit to India, conspicuously hyped-ante, was aimed at restraining India in her oil purchases from Iran. This is the forthright attempt of delivering a message with a warning to a country that signed civilian nuclear deal with the United States just three years ago. US need not be reminded of the fierce controversy which that deal had evoked among Indian politicos so much so that the UPA government’s future, at a particular juncture, almost hung by slender thread.
Two years is too little a time to let a country of India’s territorial and demographic dimensions become self-sufficient in her power need. But to bring pressure on her within a short span of time when the UPA government is unfortunately hair and neck submerged in the quagmire of corruption and scandals, is to make an assault on her democratic credentials. One is tempted to know if the US is really seeking democratic dispensation to prevail in countries where it has taken roots albeit after great effort and tolerance.
What is the core of dispute between Iran and the US? It is exclusively related to Iran? Ever since the US dropped atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and experimented the scale of disaster it caused to those unfortunate regions in World War II, her policy has been to stonewall the production of atomic or nuclear weapon by any of the developing countries. This was to maintain monopoly and supremacy of American might over the globe through the instrument of mass destruction weapon.
If this policy were uniformly adopted and practically implemented, it would have carried weight with world community and more particularly with the developing countries. That did not happen. First the erstwhile Soviet Union and then Peoples Republic of China, one a purely Asian and the other a Eurasian power succeeded in manufacturing the dirty bomb. The US could do nothing to prevent nuclear proliferation just because two major powers were involved and she was not in a position to re-kindle the flames of another global war since she had just wriggled out of one that had cost her and her western allies immensely in terms of men and material. European powers were not in a position to take on either Russia or China essentially owing not only to their war-torn shattered economy but more because of tremendous tenacity of resistance shown by the Soviet system and deep-seated indoctrination of masses of people under Maoist ideology.
Among developing Asiatic countries India was the third to embark on nuclear enterprise. Why did India do it despite the fact that she had many other priority areas thirsting for development and expansion? The China-factor served a catalyst to Indian policy planners. In particular, China’s unexpected attack on our eastern border in 1961 ending up in a debacle for our Army in the Sino-India stand off prompted Indian policy planners to contemplate a deterrent to Chinese dirty bomb. New Delhi had noticed with careful anxiety that Washington had almost soft paddled on China going nuclear just because in her eyes, India was not a friend as long as she maintained bonhomie with Moscow. Had Washington honestly stuck to the ideology of universal application of non-proliferation and dissuaded Beijing form embarking on a hazardous adventure, things would have been different, no doubt.
Let us recall how Pakistan regaled on Z.A. Bhutto constructing bridges of understanding between Washington and Beijing as a new chapter in international strategy. At that point of time Soviet Union and India were frontline adversaries to US hegemonic ambitions in Asian Continent. It was to dilute Washington’s hegemonic ambitions that India, in concert with Egypt and Yugoslavia floated the ambiguous and toothless Non-Aligned Movement to be the emerging third option for developing countries of the world.
On her own, India carried forward her nuclear programme without making a fanfare of the enterprise in public. To say that New Delhi neglected her northern border to the disadvantage of the nation is not true at least the whole of it. Aware of the fact that the US would not take it lying low in case she came to know of India’s much advanced progress in manufacturing the bomb, India had to resort to top secretive Pokhran I and Pokhran II missions. But despite that, Washington had been suspecting for long that India had come to the threshold of the bomb, but could not get it either verified or stonewalled.
But the point that we are eager to make here is that the US was in full know of all ins and outs of Pakistan’s preparations for manufacturing the bomb. Here in this context the US made a clear and willful digression of her publicized policy of disallowing proliferation of nuclear weapon. Fully aware that China was supplying some crucial parts of the bomb and that the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb Abdul Qadeer had stolen technical secrets from Holland and made use of the same at home with full assistance of Pakistani government and the Army, the US took no step, even the smallest one, to obstruct Pakistan from becoming nuclear. Her thinking was that Pakistan should be at parity with India in this respect. Thus we find that on principle the US does not maintain any standard of generalizing the concept of non-proliferation.
The case of Iran going nuclear is firstly related to Israel being in a position to have the dirty bomb in her possession within minutes if and when required. The second but more important is the threat Iranian nuclear establishment poses to the Saudi Monarchy. Iran is a deadly enemy of Saudi Arabia and has always challenged the role of Saudi monarchy as the sole guardians of the twin holy shrines called harmain sharif. Iran’s revolutionary clergy Ayatollah Khomeini had even issued a decree saying that monarchy was disallowed in Islam. Therefore it has to be known that Iran’s hostility towards Israel is a subjective matter and far less in intensity when compared with hostility towards Saudi Arabia. Iran is hostile towards Israel just because the Arab World from which Iranian nation is ethnically, linguistically and culturally at great divergence is not patently inimical towards Israel. Iran wants to be more loyal than the king.
Yet another reason why Washington did not stonewall Pakistan’s nuclear programme while she is dead set against Iran becoming nuclear is also related to very crucial role that Pakistan is performing in protecting Saudi monarchical regime from downslide and ouster. Pakistani elite commandos are protecting the royal palaces and crucial installations in Riyadh. Riyadh has always delivered Pakistan from intermittent bankruptcy. It is Riyadh which is funding Wahhabi-Salafi extremism in other countries of the world where Sunnis are in predominance. Protection of Saudi monarchy through Pakistan’s muscle is what suits Washington. Even the 4 billion dollar funding for production of nuclear bomb by Pakistan was underwritten by Prince Turki and his establishment in Riyadh with tacit knowledge of CIA.
The primary objective of the US in roping in India into a civilian nuclear deal three years ago was simply to blunt her nuclear teeth emphasizing on her that dependence on oil being a risky and uncertain matter, she should shift to nuclear reactors for generating power. But as India is going slow on the subject, Washington has lost its patience and has decided to bring pressure on India to stop oil imports from Iran. Hillary Clinton might have proposed increased oil exports from Saudi Arabia to India on same conditions. But the Indo-Iranian relations are on a different footing that encompasses many more things than just the oil. India is also a victim of Wahhabi-Salafi extremist activists whether they operate from Pakistan or any other Muslim country. Many separatist organizations in India, including Kashmir, receive substantial financial support from ar-Rabita in Saudi Arabia.
Hillary’s visit to Kolkata is to pat Mamta for ousting the leftist from their 34-year long stint. She told press reporters that she confined herself only to the subject of investment in developmental projects but international relations have hardly defined borders. New Delhi has green signaled this visit but it must also take into account the repercussions in Beijing and even in Kolkata itself. The Communisms in Bengal are out but Maoists are active in eastern region of the country. Mamta has landed on a path strewn with thorns. But she is a daughter of the soil what she calls Ma, Mati and Manush.