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WikiLeaks cables reveal a disturbing picture of India-U.S. relationship: Prakash Karat

March 25, 2011

thehindu.com

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Prakash Karat

“They are a sad commentary of where Manmohan Singh and Congress leadership have landed the country”

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said on Thursday that the WikiLeaks exposé laid bare the nature of India-U.S. relationship during the UPA and NDA regimes and revealed a disturbing picture.

“The publication and analysis of the U.S. embassy cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks is ongoing; but what has been made available so far reveals a disturbing picture… the cables are a sad and revealing commentary of where Manmohan Singh and the Congress leadership have landed the country,” general secretary Prakash Karat said an article in the latest edition of the party organ, People’s Democracy.

Washington’s reach

Commenting on the influential reach of Washington in India’s strategic affairs and foreign and economic policies, he said the U.S. had access to the bureaucracy, military, security and the intelligence system and successfully penetrated them at various levels.

Mr. Karat marks out specific areas — foreign policy, defence cooperation, security and intelligence cooperation, penetration and espionage, political influence and political corruption — where American stamp could be seen.

Referring to the Manmohan Singh government going back on its commitment in the Common Minimum Programme to pursue an independent foreign policy, he said the CPI(M) and other Left parties had to oppose this turnaround from the outset. The cables disclosed how this reversal was effected through the efforts of the U.S. embassy and high-level functionaries, with the vote against Iran in the IAEA being one illustration of U.S. pressure.

Other cables showed how Washington succeeded in getting New Delhi to coordinate policy towards Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Defence and security cooperation was the second area where the U.S. influence grew appreciably, with India signing the Defence Framework Agreement, the first of this type with any country. It was evident from the cables that the U.S. government and the Pentagon had been negotiating and planning for it since the time of the NDA government.

Intelligence cooperation

On security and intelligence cooperation, Mr. Karat said the cables showed the growing coordination of the security establishments of the two countries reaching a high level of cooperation after the Mumbai terror attacks and the American view that the then National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan was eager to establish a high degree of security cooperation involving the FBI and the CIA.

The cables also showed that information was accessed through sources within various government ministries.

He said collaboration between the intelligence and security agencies of the two countries resulted in American penetration and two cases of espionage: Rabinder Singh, who was helped by the CIA flee to the U.S.; and during the UPA regime, a system analyst in the National Security Council secretariat was found to have been recruited by the CIA, with contact established through the U.S.-India Cyber Security Forum.

Political influence

Referring to the cables on the 2006 Cabinet reshuffle with a mention of the strong pro-U.S. credentials of Ministers; the observation that the Left would be infuriated by this shuffle; and the removal of Mani Shankar Aiyar from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr. Karat said: “Under the Manmohan Singh regime, the Americans have been provided licence to penetrate and influence every sector of the government.”

He said there was no use blaming the Americans, since the UPA government decided in 2007 that mandatory mid-career training programmes for IAS officers be undertaken in various American universities. “Whether they are civil servants or military officials, the way to go ahead is to get training in the United States.”

Corruption

The cables showed the Americans to be keen observers of the high level of corruption that existed in India’s political system, Mr. Karat said. Understandably, the cables on the huge money used for buying MPs during the 2008 trust vote caused a furore.

The Americans wanted the Manmohan Singh government to win the vote, so that the nuclear deal could go through. “Any means, fair or foul, was acceptable for the Americans,” he noted. The cables showed that the U.S. was not just after commercial benefit of a few billion dollars in the sale of nuclear reactors, but wanted India firmly on its side as a strategic ally.

Describing as pathetic the Prime Minister’s claim that the cables “are unverifiable and cannot be treated as authentic,” Mr. Karat said it was common knowledge that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself rang up External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to warn him about the leak of the cables and the consequent embarrassment they may cause.

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