At only five days into his transition period, Barack Obama may have already made several mistakes in his relations with the countries of India and Pakistan that could cloud his relationship with two of the most powerful and influential nations in that part of the world.
Obama’s first odd move was to appoint Google financial adviser Sonal Shah to his transition team. Shah, a well-known 40-year-old economist and Indian American, is controversial in Pakistan for having links to a Hindu nationalist political party as well as a few other extremist groups based in India.
As soon as Obama brought Shah onto his team, tongues in Pakistan began to wag about the “controversial” economist for her connection to VHP-America. The Pakistani news service Daily Times pointed to connections between VHP and a group suspected of sponsoring riots that targeted Muslims and Christians in Gujarat, India.
Vishwa Hari Parishad (VHP) and its student wing Bajrang Dal are believed to have been involved in the massacre of over 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat and for the last three months have been carrying out a sustained campaign against Indian Christians in Orissa.