Indian Decade

Cameron’s Easy Pakistan Talk

David Cameron’s criticism of Pakistan was welcomed in India. But did he really mean it?

While India is in a self-congratulatory mood after UK Prime Minister David Cameron spoke in Bangalore of Pakistan’s ‘export’ of terrorism, many analysts, including this writer, don’t see much to celebrate in such off-the-cuff remarks.
Pakistan is central to US and NATO strategy to pacify, if not democratize, Afghanistan and keep the Taliban and al-Qaeda from securing state power there. Yet while Pakistan apparently doesn’t share this aim, the United States and other NATO nations (including the UK) don’t appear to have any interest in properly quizzing Islamabad too closely on such issues.

As a result, the US and UK are reluctant to spend too long accusing Pakistan of backing the terrorists in Afghanistan, knowing that if Islamabad disengages from that country there’ll be no face saving option left for them and a gradual withdrawal of US and NATO forces using the timetable set for the middle of next year won’t be possible. So it seems quite possible that after the India trip, Cameron may end up speaking reassuringly to the Pakistanis, something that would undoubtedly enrage Delhi.

Every world leader now knows how to play up to Indian and Pakistani audiences while still serving their own interests. So even as the West has its uses for Pakistan in Afghanistan, the US and the UK have long (and fruitfully) eyed India’s mammoth market for defense equipment.

Indeed on this latest trip by a UK leader to India, David Cameron happily witnessed the signing of a deal to supply 57 Hawk advanced jet trainers to the Indian Navy and Air Force.