US President Saves The Best For Last
If there were clouds of scepticism over the Obama visit as the ‘‘what’s in it for us’’ question grew louder, the US President dispersed them on Monday by endorsing India’s bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat and slamming Pakistan for promoting terror havens on its soil. “The just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate. In the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member,” Barack Obama said in his address to Parliament. He also ended the ambiguity on Islamabad’s use of terror that had marked his visit so far. ‘‘We will continue to insist with Pakistan’s leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders are unacceptable and that the terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks be brought to justice,’’ he said. The Obama-Singh joint statement too reiterated that “success in Afghanistan and regional and global security require elimination of safe havens and infrastructure for terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan”. While the UNSC promise may take a while to materialize, the audience in Parliament’s Central Hall erupted in celebration. They immediately recognized it as the defining moment of his visit. Add the decision to lift controls on transfer of technology, the promise to help India join crucial groups like the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and Missile Technology Control Regime and the tone of a ‘‘partnership between equals’’, and the visit marks a milestone in Indo-US ties. The risk PM Singh took years ago in pursing closer ties and the nuclear deal seems to have paid off. Clearly, Obama had saved the best for last. He silenced doubters wondering if America’s romance with India—that began under Bill Clinton and flowered under George W Bush—was flagging. Asking ‘‘what’s the next step’’ in India-US ties, Obama provided some answers, outlining a ‘‘global partnership for global challenges’’. He stressed the bipartisan support in both countries for a stronger partnership, and praised India for achieving growth through democracy.