Speculations are rife as US President Barrack Obama is scheduled to visit India as chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade. The four-day visit will be President Obama’s second – the first coming in 2010 – and comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s well-publicised visit to the US, where he was previously persona non grata for a good part of the last decade. Some in the Indian media view it as an exceptional development, a sign of the US warming up to the idea of enhancing cooperation with strongman Modi, to keep China’s influence in the region under check. Others believe that this visit, like others before it, will be high on rhetoric and low on substance. They feel that India has always been treated unfairly by the US, by refusing to acknowledge India’s importance in the region, bullying it into making compromises against its interests, partially due to India’s own inability to understand its role, and it’s “non-alignment” foreign policy.

No country would be watching more closely than Pakistan because if the US and India are talking, Pakistan is bound to come up in the conversation. What would that conversation entail? Recently, when Secretary of State John Kerry visited Pakistan, Advisor to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, made statements accusing India of supporting terrorist activities in the country, especially in Balochistan by using Afghan territory. However, he was unable to get any solid, meaningful words on the subject from Mr Kerry. There is a strong perception in Pakistan that the US has always sided with India over Pakistan. India accuses the US of doing the opposite citing unfair nuclear deals and its role in the Siachin debacle amongst other examples. Since Indo-Pak relations remain strained, with one’s national interests at odds against the other’s, any position that the US may take, or not take, on issues deemed important by the two rivals, it will invariably lead to controversy and resentment. As the foreign military campaign comes closer to an end in Afghanistan, Pakistan is seriously concerned about India’s role in the country, which till now, it believes, has been highly questionable. Will Barrack Obama be able take India into confidence, on the question of Afghanistan, as the Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US attempt to redeem the situation following President Ashraf Ghani’s rise to power? Are there any nuclear deals in the offing? What implications will they carry for Pakistan? Will the US President issue statements on cross-border terrorism, in an attempt to appease India while remaining silent on concerns voiced by Mr Sartaj Aziz? These questions, amongst many others, and their answers, which will come soon enough, are most likely to increase tensions between Pakistan and India, as they always do when the US arrives at the party.