How India Views the Raymond Davis Case

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It has been fascinating to watch New Delhi’s reaction to the Raymond Davis case. For all the unknowns about the CIA’s contracted spy detained in Lahore on murder charges, Davis’ arrest, the U.S. reaction and the furious Pakistani backlash seem to have made it plain that the relationship between the CIA and ISI is broken, as Kathy Gannon and Adam Goldman of the Associated Press report.

India has always been suspicious and resentful of the alliance between the U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services, and some strategic analysts in New Delhi have taken note of the open U.S-Pakistan rift with a hint of satisfaction. As M.K. Bhadrakumar writes on Rediff:

“US has chosen to brandish the stick publicly. No wriggle room is left for GOP [Government of Pakistan] now except to capitulate. It seems Washington has concluded Asif Zardari cannot be depended upon to ‘deliver’ and time may have come for the ‘powers that be’ to realise this isn’t an issue for ‘dadagiri‘.”

That phrase, dadagiri, is an invaluable part of the Subcontinental political lexicon. It is roughly translated as “highhandedness” or, more literally, “playing the big shot.”

But others have been more sympathetic to the Pakistani point of view. B. Raman, writing in Outlook, criticizes the U.S. for “a series of over-reactions,” and warns that U.S. “mishandling” of the case “could provide fresh oxygen” to jihadis. Former diplomat Rajiv Dogra argues that India ought to be tougher in its dealings with both the U.S. and Pakistan, while another commentator goes so far as to praise Pakistan: “It is at moments like this that one wishes that India had the courage or moral fibre to stand up against a bully.”

The bully, in this scenario, is the United States.

Despite the Indian public’s fondness for all things American, this is not an uncommon view among New Delhi’s foreign policy establishment. It’s a reminder that the “strategic partnership” between India and the U.S. is a new and fragile thing. India and Pakistan may be separated by a near-existential enmity, but the one thing they share is resentment of anything that looks like American dadagiri.