n Bassam Javed The Second Strategic Dialogue between India and the United States concluded in New Delhi recently, with no apparent progress on contentious issues, which principally run contrary to Washingtons strategic interests in the region. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, represented the American side during the dialogue, whereas the Indian External Affairs Minister, Shri S.M. Krishna, represented India. She was accompanied by a large delegation, including Director of National Intelligence, President Barack Obamas Advisor for Science and Technology, Deputy Secretary of Department of Energy and the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Overtime, the US administration has found in India a willing partner to confront China for a lead role in Asia. Having realised USAs strategic aims in the region, India is willing to embrace American courtship at the expense of its strategic relationship with China, who is a neighbour. It also looks up to the US for fitting it in the United Nations Security Council, as the sixth permanent member of the august body. Before Hillarys arrival in India, three separately timed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) exploded on July 13, 2011, in the port city of Mumbai; it seems that it has become a routine affair that has assumed the proportions of an institutionalised mechanism prior to such high-profile visits. This practice has often worked to pressurise and accrue maximum sympathy from the visitors in their interaction with the Indians. This time, however, it seems that these triple blasts attached more focus, consumed the valuable time of the visit and overshadowed strategic talks as it deprived the two sides to seriously focus on more sensitive and strategic issues. There were 18 subjects that were to be discussed ranging from education, terrorism, Afghanistan, nuclear cooperation and Indias bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Anyway, the critical point of the dialogue was the delegation (from Washington) forcing New Delhi to annul its legislature on the liability aspect of the nuclear deal that India would enter with the United States. The law, enacted with maximum majority in the Indian Parliament, has prevented American companies from taking part in the $150 billion nuclear energy market. At the same time, the Secretary pushed India to further open up Asias third largest economy to foreign (read American) investment. She also linked the fate of the nuclear deal with purchases of sophisticated weapon platforms from the US, as part of the whole equation. For instance, India recently excluded the US companies from the shortlist of probable sellers of high-tech fighter aircraft for its air force. More so, Washington wants New Delhi to ratify a treaty by this years end that permits countries to tap an international fund to help pay the damages in case of nuclear accidents, as an alternative to Indias liability law. The Indian liability law says: The operator of the nuclear installation, after paying the compensation for nuclear damage,.shall have a right of recourse where the nuclear incident has resulted as a consequence of an act of the supplier or his employee, which includes supply of equipment or material with patent or latent defects of substandard services. The US Secretary, however, refrained from giving assurances or commitments on the new restrictions currently imposed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group on the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies. Nevertheless, the US-India relations continue to move on a steady course, despite the fact that the two countries might be years away from firming up a nuclear and high-tech arms deal. At this point in time, the deal can be best described as floundering and military-to-military relationship has become rocky for Indias decision to ditch the American companies from the list of perspective suppliers of aircraft that it wants to purchase. This is despite the fact that the Indians have been offered the 5th generation super stealth US fighter aircraft F-35 at an exclusive price of $65 million; France has offered the 4th generation Rafale fighter aircraft at $85 million; and Euro fighter Conglomerate has offered the Typhoon aircraft at $125 million. Meanwhile, the Secretary pushed India to exert its influence as a regional and global power. However, in the process she did not line out any roadmap where the US would ensure India exercise the proposed role. She steered clear of Indias aspersion for a seat in the Security Council during her interaction with the reporters. Two agreements were signed during the visit: One, Technical Safeguards Agreement permitting US licensed components to be used on the Indian civilian space craft; and two, creation of $30 million endowment to fund science, technology and innovation. An Indian daily, Asian Age, described the joint statement at the end of the strategic dialogue as limp affair. The Indian think tanks see the Americans as disreputable for letting down their partners and allies; they cite Pakistans example that has been repeatedly ditched and befriended only to be ditched again. In the past, India too got allied with the Russians, the dividends of which it is still reaping. After the conclusion of the strategic talks, several Indian analysts have advised their government not to take the American rhetoric at face value, as the dialogues ultimately are carried out to further USAs businesses and India should be careful when grasping its hidden agendas in the South Asian region. Apparently, this time Ms Clintons visit revealed the core ideas underlying USAs strategy in South and East Asia. She utilised the visit to deliver a clear and unequivocal message to the regional countries in Asia. That America wants to be an orchestrator of an informal coalition to frustrate Chinas influence for which it has chosen India in the lead role. It seems that India is happy in hugging and partnering with the US on its 'confront China campaign. However, it is time for New Delhi to work out its equations amid the anti-Americanism in the region and entering a war with a neighbour, who is only destined to rise. n The writer retired as a brigadier of the Pakistan Army.