South Asian Seesaw: A New U.S. Policy on the Subcontinent

Policy Outlook

The widely noted decision to resume F-16 sales to Pakistan and, even more, the largely ignored commitment to assist India’s growth in power represent a new U.S. strategy toward South Asia. By expanding relations with both states in a differentiated way matched to their geostrategic weights, the Bush administration seeks to assist Pakistan in becoming a successful state while it enables India to secure a troublefree ascent to great-power status. These objectives will be pursued through a large economic and military assistance package to Islamabad and through three separate dialogues with New Delhi that will review various challenging issues such as civil nuclear cooperation, space, defense coproduction, regional and global security, and bilateral trade. This innovative approach to India and Pakistan is welcome—and long overdue in a strategic sense—but it is not without risks to the United States, its various regional relationships, and different international regimes.

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About the Author
Ashley J.Tellis is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. Previously, he served as senior adviser to the ambassador at the embassy of the United States in India. He also served on the National Security Council staff as special assistant to the president and senior director for strategic planning and Southwest Asia. Before his government service, he was for eight years a senior policy analyst at RAND and professor of policy analysis at the RAND graduate school. He is the author of India’s Emerging Nuclear Posture and co-author of Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy. He has co-edited Strategic Asia 2004-05: Confronting Terrorism in the Pursuit of Power and Strategic Asia 2005-06: Military Modernization in an Era of Uncertainty.

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About the South Asia Program

The Carnegie South Asia Program informs policy debates relating to the region’s security, economy, and political development. From the war in Afghanistan to Pakistan’s internal dynamics to U.S. engagement with India, the Program’s renowned team of experts offer in-depth analysis derived from their unique access to the people and places defining South Asia’s most critical challenges.


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