The devil, as they say, lies in the detail. So while all attention would be on the signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) between India and the United States during just-concluded first ever 2+2 Ministerial dialogue, or on the newly announced tri-services exercises between the two militaries, and rightly so, my attention was drawn to a few lines in the statement of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. It said, “The United States has renamed its Pacific Command responsible for relations with India as Indo-Pacific Command. Reflecting our wider global partnership, we will also enhance our interactions with the United States military's Central Command. (Emphasis added)”
Enhanced interactions with the US CENTCOM? Now that’s a major takeaway from the overall package as I see it. Let me explain. I would always wonder why the United States would place Pakistan and India in two separate US commands – CENTCOM and PACOM (Indo-Pacific command now) respectively – despite both nations being part of the same geography – the Indian subcontinent or the South Asian region. There was a tactical logic to it from the US perspective. Given the rivalries, if both Pak and Indian generals interacted with the same set of American counterparts, they would share less fearing leak to the other side. It was the American way of winning the confidence of both sides.
If that be the case, the US defence establishment deciding on integrating India more with CENTCOM is a message to Pakistani deep state: that we are fed up with your games and there is no harm in taking India on board for intelligence sharing. This is brushing aside of any Pakistani concerns about India’s role in what the US calls the troubled and terror-infested Af-Pak region. Isn’t that a significant marker of a strategic shift in American thinking on India’s role?
This, taken together with the joint statement (Read here) released at the end of the dialogue, with exhaustive mention of Pak based terror outfits, sends a clear message to the Pakistani deep state: if it thinks that founder of Haqqani network Jalaluddin Haqqani can die a peaceful death in Pakistani territory, and the global community won’t respond, those days are well past. The bluff would be called. That’s what the joint statement does. From naming not just Lashkar (LeT) and Hijb (HM) but even D-company, and mentioning of India’s enhanced role in Afghanistan, the United States has made it clear that patience with Pakistan’s indulgence with terror is running dry.
More significantly, as I wrote in my last piece (read here: https://www.republicworld.com/india-news/general-news/difficult-triangulation-over-next-two-days-as-india-us-hold-first-2-2) the outcomes from the 2+2 dialogue are clear indication that both the United States and India are willing to work around the irritants in the larger interest of the long-term vision of the strategic partnership between the natural allies.