indian “political class” not keen to be used against china

Pindostan & India sign military logistics agreement
Yeganeh Torbati, Idris Ali, Reuters, Aug 2, 2016

WASHINGTON – Pindostan and India signed an agreement on Monday governing the use of each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply, a step toward building defense ties as they seek to counter the growing maritime assertiveness of China. The agreement, a relatively mundane one concerning day-to-day military logistics, is nonetheless a milestone in the Pindo-India defense relationship because of the outsized political importance it had taken on in India, where it had touched on domestic sensitivities, experts said. The signing of the agreement will “make the logistics of joint operations so much easier and so much more efficient,” Ashtray Carter said in a news briefing with Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday. The agreement will allow the Indian and Pindosi navies to have an easier time supporting each other in joint operations and exercises and when providing humanitarian assistance, Parrikar said.

Washington’s desire for deeper security cooperation with India had been complicated without the signing of the logistics agreement as well as two other pacts that would allow for secure communications and the exchange of nautical and other data. The agreements are considered routine between Pindostan and its other defense partners (‘considered’ by whom? – RB). But India has had concerns such an agreement would commit it to hosting Pindo troops at its bases, or draw it into a military alliance with Pindostan and undermine its traditional autonomy. Ashtray & Parrikar reached an agreement “in principle” in April, but had yet to finalize the details. Ashtray has made closer military ties with India a priority, and established a special unit within the Pentagon last year to promote cooperation with that country. Parrikar’s visit to Washington this week marks the sixth interaction between the two top boxtops. Benjamin Schwartz, until last year the India country director at the Pentagon and now with the Pindo-India Business Council, said:

The signing of the logistics agreement indicates the priority the Modi government places on a closer defense relationship with Pindostan. For years, there has been tremendous misinformation put out into the Indian press about these agreements. What the signing of this shows is that the Modi government is willing to take and suffer the short-term political criticism of signing these things for the longer-term benefit of building the defense relationship with Pindostan.

Both Ashtray and Parrikar went to pains on Monday to make clear that the logistics agreement did not allow for basing of Pindo troops in India. Ashtray said:

It’s not a basing agreement of any kind.

Shane Mason, a research associate at the Stimson Center, said:

The debate over the logistics agreement has served as a vehicle for the distrust some of India’s political class (sic – RB) has toward Pindostan. Pindostan had previously imposed sanctions on India related to its 1998 nuclear test, although the sanctions were eased later. From the Pindosi perspective this was kind of a low hanging fruit. We have logistic support agreements with many, many other countries and in most cases it’s a relatively uncontroversial thing.

The Pentagon has made clear it wants to do more with India, especially in countering China, which Pindo boxtops say is risking stoking conflict through its claims in the South China Sea, a vital trade waterway. Without naming China, both Carter and Parrikar mentioned the importance of the free flow of trade to both countries. Parrikar said:

India and Pindostan have a shared interest in freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded commerce as part of rule-based order in (the) Indo-Pacific.

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