Terror Threat Looms Over Obama Visit23 October 2010
Times of India
New Delhi: As US president Barack Obama heads out to India for his maiden visit but his sixth meeting with Manmohan Singh, there are a couple of things that keep Indian policymakers burn the midnight oil. In the immediate term, there is a ramp-up of security so that Pakistani terror groups don't get an opportunity to stage a terror incident ahead of the visit. Pakistani leaders have been making strenuous demands with the US leadership to involve themselves more closely in Kashmir. A terror incident could be used as a trigger. In the past few days, security forces have engaged terrorists in J&K, and the Army chief has pointed to an increase in infiltration. The threat of a terror attack before the Obama visit has raised red flags in the entire security establishment, including reports of the numbers of terrorists alleged waiting to cross over. In March 2000, Pakistan-based terrorists conducted a daring attack in Chittisinghpura during the visit of US president Bill Clinton, who then had to declare that borders would no longer be redrawn in blood. But in the longer term, Indians are getting more concerned at the rising tide of protectionism in the US system. At the leadership level, sources said, this concern is met with denials, and assertion that the US is the most open market in the world. While that is certainly true right now, there is an increasing attractiveness for protectionist actions that India believes is against its interest. To that extent, at the highest levels of the Indian government, they want the visit to be an occasion for the two leaders to have high-quality discussions on the big global issues, Asian balance, security architecture etc. That, sources said, would be a good measure of success of the Obama visit. The visit, according to the Indian side, promises two great opportunities for both sides. First would be to get the US interested in India's development. Therefore, there should be progress on civilian nuclear issues - the US is expected to announce delisting of some Indian entities from a US proscribed list, as well as a removal of India from the regional stability and crime control categories, a categorisation which means that India is on the same category as Pakistan and North Korea, when it comes to high tech export clearances. There will be agreements on clean energy, education, etc during the visit.