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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 09:24 GMT
South Asia hopes to gain from Bush win

By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC correspondent in Delhi

The re-election of George W Bush as US president is being welcomed in much of South Asia. Concerns, however, are being led by the region's Muslims.

US President George W Bush [right] with Democratic challenger John Kerry at debate
Most South Asians prefer Bush to Kerry
This is an area of the world that the president has engaged very closely with, particularly after the 11 September attacks.

The leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan will be particularly relieved - both are strong allies of the US-led war on terror and have staked their personal careers on it.

A second Bush term is also being seen as a positive development in India which has built a strong relationship with the United States in recent years.

Unlike his predecessors, President Bush is seen to have made South Asia a priority for his administration.

That is partly because of the war on terror but also because of the growing economic relationship between the United States and India

India has a tremendous role to play in the growing rivalry between the US and Chin
Chintamani Mahapatra
Professor of Asian Studies

"The perception is that a Bush victory is good for India," says former Indian foreign secretary Shashank.

The Bush administration has invested a great deal of time and effort in improving ties with India - once on the other side of the Cold War fence, now seen increasingly as a growing regional nuclear and economic power.

One of the president's closest advisors, Robert Blackwill, served as his ambassador to India and had often said both privately and in public that George W Bush had placed India very high on his foreign policy radar.

US diplomats and regional analysts say that Delhi is seen as a important counterweight to China.

"India has a tremendous role to play in the growing rivalry between the US and China," says Chintamani Mahapatra, Professor of American Studies at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Many Indian diplomats also say privately that they were worried that a Kerry administration would have put pressure on Delhi to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, something that no Indian government has been prepared to do.

Outsourcing fears ebb

But the win has also come as a big relief to the Indian software industry and other Indian companies who do sub-contracting work or run call-centres for US firms.

Shares on the benchmark Bombay Stock Exchange rose to a six-month high as it became apparent that President Bush was going to remain in the White House.

President Musharraf
Musharraf is one of Bush's closest allies
"Mr Bush in favour of free trade and there will not be any problem to our business process outsourcing sector, unlike in a win by John Kerry," says Adi Godrej, one of India's leading industrialists.

Senator Kerry had accused the Republican administration of outsourcing thousands of US jobs overseas, particularly to India and China.

Boost for allies

The mood across the border in Pakistan however is decidedly mixed.

While the victory has come as a boost for the country's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, it will have disappointed many ordinary Pakistanis as well as the country's Islamic right.

View from helicopter, Afghanistan
The US says it is in Afghanistan for the long-term
General Musharraf is one of the President Bush's closest allies, earning millions of dollars in aid in exchange for his unstinting support in the war against al-Qaeda and the former Taleban regime in Afghanistan.

"President Musharraf knows the president of the United States and they have some sort of chemistry," General Talat Mahmood, a Pakistani analyst said.

Another key US ally, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, will also be similarly relieved.

The Bush administration has strongly backed the Afghan president, who has himself just won the country's first ever presidential elections under the watchful eye of the Americans.

Much of Bush's Afghan policy is implemented on the ground by the influential US ambassador to Kabul, Zalmay Khalilzad who had been handpicked by the president.

Mr Khalilzad is part of a trio of Afghan Americans who play a key role in Afghanistan - the others being the US-educated Afghan finance minister, Ashraf Ghani and Interior Minister Ali Ahmed Jalali, a former Voice of America broadcaster.

Muslim divide

But the mood on the streets of Pakistan and Afghanistan and indeed among Muslims elsewhere in the region is one of intense disappointment.

Many here fear that a second Bush term will widen the divide between the Muslim and non-Muslim world.

Most ordinary Pakistanis and Afghans opposed President Bush's policies in Afghanistan and Iraq and say that they are concerned that he may turn his attention to Iran and Syria.

Opposition politicians in Pakistan are also disappointed with the defeat of John Kerry, who they had hoped may have pressed for greater democracy in their country.

There are also concerns that the US elections signals an ideological shift to the right, strengthening the hands of conservatives.

"The turbulence in this region is not likely to go away," says regional analyst C Uday Bhaskar.

There are some who believe that the win may invite a backlash from Islamic hardliners in the region.

Although President Bush's main areas of focus in South Asia have been Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, his administration has displayed more than a passing interest in other parts of the region, particularly Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Both countries are in the midst of low-intensity conflicts - with Maoist rebels in Nepal and Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka although a ceasefire there has held for more than a year.

In both countries the president has put his weight behind the existing leadership and is likely to press other countries to push for a resolution of those conflicts.

Below is a selection of readers' comments on this subject.

The re-election of Mr.Bush is good for both India and Pakistan. His war on terror has reduced tensions between the two countries to a great extent and contributed to economic development in India as well as Pakistan.
K.B.Chowdary, India

Power politics and the balance of power dictates America's foreign policies. Ultimately, it really does not matter who heads the government because there won't be sweeping changes in America's foreign policies. Once you are the most powerful nation in the world, you have to remain there at any cost. Thus, I believe that America will pull all its strings, ropes and chains to fend off the intensifying economic rivalry with China. Other powerhouses in Asia, such as India, should be aware of the critical position they are in. India should continue her developing relation with America, but she should also keep in mind that in case of acute circumstances, she will be the front line of defence for America.
Hassan Shahriar, Canada

Suresh Chandarana (see below) from the UK is extremely wrong. American is the midwife that created Al-Qaeda, not Pakistan. Indians have a habit of blaming everything on Pakistan. Pakistan didn't fight the USSR in Afghanistan, American supported militants did. So there you have it. Bush should be more helpful to Pakistan for all she has done for the US, and Indians should learn to accept the reality, USA needs Pakistan!!!
Sara Khan, Pakistan

Bush's win is good for Pakistan because the Republicans have always been pro-Pakistan while the democrats lean towards India. Pakistan's economy is doing great with a 6.4% GDP growth rate. With Musharraf at the top and Bush's help, Pakistan will emerge as the next economic powerhouse. After all we are the sixth largest country in the world with a very hardworking population. Pakistan being a Major Non-Nato Ally will benefit militarily as well.
Fawwad Shafi, Karachi, Pakistan

The Bush victory will divide this world on religious grounds. Future generations will pay the price for the piece lost by the current generation.
Sandeep, India

The Bush victory is no doubt very good for South Asia mostly for India .India can use this oportunity for the economic growth and technological growth. The most important point is that the anti-terrorism principle of Bush will help south Asia to free from terrorism specially in Pakistan, Afganistan, Srilanka. Only strong men like Bush can make a world which is free from terrorism.
M.Roy, India

President Bush's leadership has been tested for four years and by now everyone knows his character and the type of leadership. So I think Bush's re-election should be welcome as he is a tested leader and better than unknown. The bottom line is that whoever gets the rein of power in USA will make sure that the American interest is safeguarded. Fare enough! For countries like Banglaadesh and Sri Lanka, Kerry and Bush are like two sides of a coin. After all he has not been unfair to South Asia.
Senaka Vitharana, Zambia

I believe that a second term for Bush cannot be good for any one, including South Asia. While Bush may appear to be good for the Indian call-centre business, he is not so good for the farming sector. The huge subsidies given to US farmers and the off-loading of US products in 3rd world markets can be devastating to growing economies like India. Those who are praising Mr Bush's 'free-trade' policies should perhaps remember that agriculture is India's No. 1 GDP earner and none of Mr. Bush's policies have ever been conducive to its growth.
V Misra, UK

South Asian countries should not get carried away by the current support by US. There is always a motive behind US supporting other countries and it always favours US. US practices democracy inside the country but prefers monorchy with the rest of the world. It is always better to keep distance from them.
Vijay, INDIA

Bush Victory in US has strengthened more strongly in the US support to NEpal on war on terror and hope the ties between US and NEpal will grow stronger in Bilateral interests. Congratulations, Bush for your second term in White house!
Ashis Aryal, Nepal

India should always remember that America is an unreliable ally, whose list of former best friends includes the likes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. It would perhaps be more prudent to forge closer ties to Europe.
Prashant, Toronto, Canada

I find it difficult imagine what Kerry would have done in South Asia simply because I don't think he has actually ever outlined a foreign policy where this part of the world had a role of any significance. Sure, he talked about outsourcing, but I feel that was more to appeal to the American people than anything else.
Abedin Chowdhury, Bangladesh

Bush administration have been actively supportive for Bangladesh's demand to get access to US garments market. Bangladesh being a very good friend and an active supporter of American War on Terrorism are very happy with Bush's win. Bush needs to visit South Asian countries where both he can achieve pretty good welcome from governmental and people's level as well. America should also need to open US market for South Asia.
Sohail Ahmad, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Bush's win does not mean anything for he has proved that he does not care about Muslims by letting hundreds of thousands die in Afghanistan and Iraq in particular. Western world in whole is fair to only those countries who want to share greed, their own political interests, and power like Bush. I think that Bush is just using South Asia and Middle East for himself and for Westerns world's own good.
Rais, USA

I was praying for a Bush victory and I was jubilant that he won. First, President Bush is tough on terrorism and terror is the world's number one threat today. Second, I work in one of those call centers in India. How can I say no to someone who gave me a decent job?
Niraj Malhotra, India

Congratulations to Mr. Bush and his party to win 2nd term. Now sir, it is time that your government should really work towards the resolution of Kashmir issue. Pakistan has done all what is required by the international community & more. It is time to resolve this 57 year old issue, and let South Asia to move towards long term peace & stability.
Nouman, Pakistan

This is a very good analysis and clearly points out the role Bush Presidency has played in the region. Even though I am a strong Kerry supporter and does not necessarily agree with the conservative right wing direction of the Republican party, I agree strongly with the attention this US government has given to the Asian Sub Continent as a region. This region however should work together and solve its own problems through SAARC and other organisations rather than wholly depending on the US government policy which could very well change in four years.
Randhir Senapala, Uk

Bush is a strict man and a tight leader. He has started a holy war in Afghanistan at least, so he needs to finish it anyhow. Believe me as soon as he withdraws American forced from my country, the warlords will cause crisis. God bless you George, is the prayer for deprived people.
Fardin Farhadi, Afghanistan

It is good for us that Bush has won the election. We all wants to congratulate him on his election victory.
Yam la Aryal, Nepal

A second term for Bush means a continuation of policies towards Pakistan and a subtle but visible push for peace in the subcontinent. Right or wrong atleast the Bush administration took the initiative!
Salman Raza, Pakistan

Bush's victory will go a long way in strengthening the Indo US relations in defence and trade. We jats just love him as he is a very strong US president and does not mince words when it comes to taking hard decisions.
Rajendra Kumar, India

Sri Lanka welcomes the re-election of President George W Bush. He is determined to consistently fight the global war against terrorism. Since September 11 2001, the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government have been forced to talk peace and I hope that there will be a permanent political solution within the unitary state of Sri Lanka before the end of the President's second term as the Bush Administration is the major behind the scenes player in the Sri Lanka peace process. We also need to address the causes of terrorism. Prevention is better than cure.
Ravindra Wickremasinghe, Vienna, Austria

Bush and Kerry are both against Islam and the interests of Muslims. Therefore I am not too much interested in either of them. However, I think Mr Bush is closer to Muslims, as compared to Kerry. This is because Bush is religously minded while Kerry is more secular minded. So Bush is closer to Islam because there are some beliefs which are common between Muslims and Christians, such as the prohibition of abortion or homosexuality.
Asmat, Pakistan

"Many here fear that a second Bush term will widen the divide between the Muslim and non-Muslim world." As far as above comment, I like to suggest that peace loving Muslims make a greater effort to weed out radicals who prefer terrorism and senseless killings as their weapon to achieve freedom - (Freedom from What?), instead of harbouring them or taking no action against them.
b.k.dave, USA

I am happy to see Mr. Bush is re-elected once again. But I am little bit worried about his policies towards Pakistan, which he agreed to supply F-16 and all other modern defense machineries which can be used against India by Pakistan. I wish Mr. Bush will review his policy against India favouring Pakistan.
Ajith, India

s Bush's re-election is widely perceived as beneficial to all outsourcers both here in the US and in India. Outsourcing services offshore is still in its infancy and Indian outsourcers are still trying to iron out problems/complaints that are registered by US users of goods and services. They still need more time to mature as Service Providers and that will happen now that Bush is back in office. I am sure that Kerry would have initiated steps to stop the outflow of white collared jobs, which would have played havoc with the Indian Economy at this time. I see the current trends continuing as far as Indians providing manpower for jobs involving tech support for Telecomm, Insurance, Legal advice, medical transcription and come February 2005, more tax preparation. Congratulations Mr. Bush and Thank you America.
Hari, Arlington, Tx

I think Bush victory is bad and dangerous for the whole world - not only for south Asia
Subinay Nandy, Bangladesh

India should not allow itself to be used by the US in fostering rivalry with its neighbour China. Nor should they participate in military alliances with the US or the UK - the occupiers of Iraq.
John P, Birmingham, Uk

Despite the fact that republicans in general have been better for the government of Pakistan, they have devised policies which alienate people of Pakistan such as tighter visa policies and constant harassment of Muslims (of which Pakistanis get hurt the most). The visa acceptance rate to US for Pakistanis between 2002 and 2003 declined by 73%. Many of the top professionals such as doctors and engineers faced extreme hardships and insults at the hands of the American administration in this period. It is now up to the government of Pakistan to stand for the issues concerning her people. If this humiliation of educated class of Pakistanis will continue like this by the Americans, they can kiss the cooperation that they are getting from Pakistanis goodbye and it will certainly increase American woes in the region.
Jonaid, USA

India and the world is aware of the duplicitous behaviour of USA. While pretending to be winning over India it is loading Pakistan with all the possible money and arms. Bin Laden is in Pakistan some where, in Musharaff's back garden. Unless America goes into Pakistan you will not get him. The midwife that gave birth to Al-Qaeda is Musharraf. President Bill Clinton missed him because the Pakistani president took over the Pakistani government. USA needs to go into Pakistan first and then Iran will fall automatically.
Suresh Chandarana, UK

President Bush hasn't a smooth road ahead in South Asia. He has to maintain a balance between India and Pakistan: two mortal enemies. And he has to support Nepal on its struggle against terrorism clandestinely supported by its own neighbour. However, our good will is with him. May Lord Pashupatinath bless him and guide him.
Dharnidhar Sharma, UK

From a political view, of course the Bush victory is indeed great for India and Pakistan with Indian reaping mostly economic gains and the latter mostly military strength. But these gains are strictly short term,with perhaps devastating results over the long term due to outsourcing.
Zak Mir, USA

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