20 years after Clinton’s pathbreaking journey to India, Trump contemplates one among his personal

20 years after Clinton’s pathbreaking trip to India, Trump contemplates one of his own


By Bruce Riedel

President Trump is planning on a visit to India — in all probability subsequent month, relying on his impeachment trial within the Senate. That can be virtually precisely 20 years after President Clinton’s pathbreaking journey to India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan in March 2000. There are some fascinating classes to be realized from wanting again.

Presidential journey to South Asia started with President Eisenhower in 1959, the first-ever voyage by Air Pressure One. Ike additionally visited Afghanistan and Pakistan. Jacky Kennedy visited India and Pakistan as first woman, as properly. But it surely was not a frequent incidence. After President Carter visited New Delhi in 1978, virtually a quarter-century glided by with no presidential journey to India — till Clinton’s journey. Clinton spent 5 days in India and did a day journey to Bangladesh from New Delhi, the one U.S. president ever to go to the capital of Dhaka.

The go to to India ended a turbulent interval in America’s relationship with India following the Indian nuclear weapons checks in 1998. It additionally adopted Clinton’s intervention within the 1999 Kargil Conflict between India and Pakistan, which threatened to go nuclear. Clinton persuaded Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to withdraw his troops from territory seized by Pakistan within the spring of 1999. India was contemplating increasing the struggle exterior Kashmir, and probably blockading Karachi. Pakistan was making ready its nuclear arsenal to be used. It was a deadly second.

After Sharif backed down — one thing Clinton organized in a summit at Blair Home on July 4, 1999 — he was ousted in a navy coup by Common Pervez Musharraf, who was the mastermind behind the Kargil fiasco. All American help to Pakistan was suspended.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee welcomed Clinton’s strain on Islamabad. It was the primary time that an American president brazenly sided with India in opposition to Pakistan in wartime. Earlier than Clinton’s journey, the American intelligence group supplied a chilling estimate: that the prospect of a full-scale struggle between the 2 nuclear weapons powers was fifty-fifty within the subsequent decade.

After a long time of troubled ties, India and America had turned a nook.

Clinton was greeted like a rock star throughout India, with stops in Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, and Mumbai. He bought a standing ovation addressing parliament. The crowds in every single place had been huge. Vajpayee returned the go to later that 12 months with a state dinner within the White Home. After a long time of troubled ties, India and America had turned a nook. Presidents George W. Bush and Obama continued Clinton’s embrace of India, and each visited the nation.

Clinton insisted on additionally visiting Pakistan on the journey. He believed adamantly {that a} cease in Islamabad was important to protecting engagement with Pakistan alive. Not going would ship a message that Washington had given up on Pakistan.

There was appreciable resistance within the administration, with some arguing that it might give Musharraf’s navy dictatorship a level of legitimacy. Sharif was nonetheless in jail in Pakistan. Pakistan was the precept patron of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which hosted al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, and which had already attacked two U.S. embassies in Africa. Others anxious it might bitter the nice will in India (it didn’t).

The Secret Service was very anxious in regards to the president’s safety in Pakistan. We had dependable reporting that al-Qaida was concentrating on President Clinton. A part of the journey to Bangladesh was canceled attributable to experiences of a plot to assassinate him within the countryside, and the airport in Dhaka was on excessive alert through the go to. Pakistan could be much more harmful, given the deep presence of the terrorist group and its sympathizers there.

Ultimately, Clinton flew to Islamabad in a small, unmarked jet. The pilot reported alarming warmth signatures beneath the aircraft at one level within the flight, which had us all spooked. The assembly between Clinton and Musharraf reached no choices, besides that Sharif shouldn’t be executed. (Subsequently, I’d work along with his ambassador in Washington on Sharif’s future.) The go to lasted only some hours, and from there, Clinton flew to Oman, the place he met Sultan Qaboos and rejoined his traditional jet for the trip residence.

The present administration has made no point out of visiting Pakistan. Trump sidestepped the query of going to Pakistan when he met Imran Khan in Davos, as a substitute praising the connection as one of the best ever between the 2 international locations. The Pakistanis are central to any negotiations about the way forward for Afghanistan and the Taliban, which has retained shut ties to the Pakistani intelligence service all these years. The Taliban’s senior management lives in Pakistan, they usually have sanctuaries for coaching and equipping their fighters within the borderlands with Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had a profitable go to to Washington final July. Washington deserted the cruel rhetoric about Pakistan that had characterised the administration’s place in its first two years. A presidential go to to Pakistan would possibly facilitate the negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar.

There was a robust bipartisan consensus in favor of shut ties with India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s powerful place on Kashmir and Muslim rights has raised vital considerations in regards to the path he takes the republic. A go to by President Trump can be a chance to underscore considerations in regards to the points. Sadly, it’s in all probability not the sort of problem this administration is anxious about. If the president’s crew decides so as to add Pakistan to the journey, it should hear an earful — that’s in all probability factor.



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