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U.S policy toward South Asia

Mazahir Hussain Zair
U.S. interests and policies towards South Asia from the Cold War era to Strategic Rebalancing, it can be asserted that this region has remained a dynamic area where the U.S. interests and thereby its foreign policy priorities has been oscillating with ups and downs or engagements and disengagements. The strategic interests have been most important factor for the U.S. policy towards South Asia. In the U.S. policy calculations during the cold war era the Soviet Union was that power and in the 21st century China is emerging such a power. Thus as long as the shadow of China threat remains in the minds of the U.S. policy makers the U.S. will treat India as its mutual partner in the South Asian region. At the same time as long as the terrorism is not eliminated and Afghanistan is not transformed into a peaceful and stable country free from terrorism the U.S. will try to maintain its current balanced policy towards India and Pakistan. U.S goal was to support the development of sovereign stable democratic nations integrated into the world economy and cooperating with one another the United States and our partners to advance regional security and stability. The interests of the United States and South Asia have converged. The US and South Asia are at a unique place in time and history for building and cementing strong ties between the South Asian nations and its peoples and these two blocks are determined to do so. The region is now and will long remain at the forefront of American foreign policy concerns On the political front most major issues that confront U.S. policy international terrorism Islamic radicalism weapons of mass destruction proliferation state failure nation building and promotion of democracy are ingrained in the South Asian Subcontinent. South Asia will become increasingly relevant to a number of new challenges confronting U.S. foreign policy such as Asia regional balance of power maritime security and global warming. South Asia is at the crossroads of a rising Asia making its geopolitical relevance significant. Strengthening the U.S. partnership with all the South Asian countries is likely to have positive spillover effects in East Asia the former Soviet republics of Central Asia the Middle East and Africa. A strong Subcontinent in harmony with itself and engaged with the United States can emerge as a force for peace and stability across the Indian Ocean and its littoral. The United States is committed to help South Asia achieve the bright future that it deserves. The US foreign policy has passed through many phases as such from one of complete isolation to that of active interventionism in world affairs both militarily and non militarily. The two key South Asian States i.e. Pakistan and India despite being situated halfway across the globe from America have had the grave consequences of these changes.
During the Cold War US in pursuance of its containment policy of Soviet Union befriended Pakistan to fight communism and it sought close cooperation with India to gain access to its large market for American goods and investment potential. But the phenomenal changes came in the wake of fateful events of September 11, 2001 which brought both the countries on the top of American foreign policy agenda. The Bush team policies towards Pakistan were shaped by the need to combat terrorism through whatever means necessary while the policies towards India continued on the basis to build an envisioned natural alliance between world’s two largest democracies. Pakistan was granted large sums of aid and assistance both economic and military for its increased role in Afghanistan. The nuclear nonproliferation has been the key issue of concern for South Asia. But in Post 9/11 scenario it was supplanted by terrorism and Islamic radicalism.

Bush quickly waived nuclear related sanctions against India and Pakistan as well as debt related sanctions against Pakistan to clear the way for extensive counterterrorism cooperation. The US identified a new global enemy terrorists and their networks and launched a War against all those that threaten world peace. during the Cold War the principal goal of the US was to use South Asian countries particularly Pakistan to contain or confront communism. The nature of U.S. engagement with different countries in the region has varied over time as has the level of U.S. interest. While India and Pakistan have received the most attention from Washington.

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