Home / Articles / Can the U.S. and India be “Steadfast Friends”?
When our eight-person congressional staff delegation flew into New Delhi on January 9, 2000, four months had passed since Congress lifted economic sanctions against India for its May 1998 nuclear weapons test. It had been three months since the United States rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, although Washington was still pressuring India to sign. A week before our arrival, India had exchanged three Kashmiri Islamic terrorists for 160 hostages hijacked aboard India Airlines flight 814. And as our plane landed, the seventeenth Karmapa, the second most prominent Tibetan lama behind the Dalai Lama, fled Tibet for India. The Times of India captured this crisis-to-crisis atmosphere in a front-page cartoon depicting a cabinet meeting in which one Indian minister turns to another and whispers: “He [Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee] is talking about the hijack crisis out of habit! This meeting is about solving the Lama problem.”