(Image source from: 1A)
An Indian American Congressman Ro Khanna on Friday advocated for NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) equivalent status for India in bilateral defense ties to take the United States-India relationship to the next level.
In an interview with PTI after a meeting with a top Pentagon official, Khanna said he is working with Elliot Engel, Chair of the (House) Foreign Relations Committee, to give India the equivalent of NATO status in our defense relationship.
He said he also introduced a bill in the House Armed Services Committee and is working to build a coalition to get it passed.
During the meeting, Randy Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs and Khanna had an in-depth conversation about the strategic importance of the U.S.-India relationship.
The two discussed how to strengthen the economic and defense ties in promoting democracy and the need for Pakistan to use their leverage over the Taliban to prevent them from harboring terrorists as they push for a responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The Congressman from Silicon Valley has been incessantly working on stopping the wars in Yemen and Iran which eventually made him garner the attention of the nation. He is seen as one of the key players in strengthening the U.S. relationship with India. Over the past few years, Khanna became one of the go-to people on foreign policy in the Congress.
He believes the relationship between the United States and India is critical to the 21st century in helping stand up for innovation, entrepreneurship, and democracy and should be based on progressive values of respect, pluralism, and strong liberal institutions.
In recent weeks, a group of Indian Americans has been upset with him for joining the Pakistan Congressional Caucus. Over 200 Indian American organizations in a letter urged Khanna to withdraw from the caucus.
Khanna, in the context of the sentiments against him among the section of Indian Americans, said:
Gandhi Ji believed in satyagraha, a belief that the truth will ultimately prevail. I am confident my record and work will speak for itself. I have worked very hard to strengthen the economic and defense relationship with the U.S. and India and have established great credibility on foreign policy. I will continue to work to strengthen this relationship grounded in the ideals of the American founders and Mahatma Gandhi - ideals of inclusion and respect for every human being.
Khanna is one of 11 sponsors of a bill condemning the Pulwama terror attack carried out by Pakistan-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammed in Jammu and Kashmir in February that claimed lives of 40 CRPF personnel.
By Sowmya Sangam