There is a key part of the US defence spending bill that president Barack Obama reluctantly signed that should rankle India but won't overly bother America. This relates to reporting requirements of the US defence secretary in regard to anti-terrorism measures taken by Pakistan to receive American aide. The defence secretary has to monitor Pakistani actions against terrorist or extremist groups opposing US goals in the region.

An US defense spending bill will naturally address issues critical to the advance of American defence and foreign-policy interests. In that respect, America has every reason to hold Pakistan to account for the actions of Pakistani terrorist and extremist groups taken against it. At a minimum, the United States cannot be funding Pakistan if its terrorists target American interests. There can be no quarrel with that.

But the United States has more than its national interests to protect. As the sole superpower, it has some obligation to uphold global security, and especially the security of its partners in peace, such as India, which is also the world's largest democracy. Indeed, America claims that role of international peace guarantor by intervening or inserting itself into conflict situations, most lately in Asia, first in Afghanistan and then Iraq, and now in the South China Sea dispute between China and its neighbours.

At the same time, in its policy formulations, America privileges its interests, and often gives short shrift to the concerns of friendly countries. For example, according to the defence spending bill, Pakistan will have to contain terrorists acting against US interests in the region. At the same time, to avail American aide, Pakistan is not obliged to counter anti-India or anti-Afghan terror groups, so long US interests/ goals are not affected. If India is rankled by such an interpretation of the US defence spending bill, it can scarcely be faulted.

Through the bill, the United States reinserts the concept of "good" and "bad" terrorists. Terrorists that attack US interests are bad and must be eliminated. Terrorists that don't attack American interests are not the concern of the US. In other words, there is a price of insulation against terrorism. You have to be a key state constituent of what makes up US interests as a whole. If you are not, then regardless of your state position as a non-enemy of America, you shan't benefit from counter-terrorism measures that the US may take from time to time, including via such vehicles as the US defence spending bill.

26/11 tells worse. Indo-US nuclear deal discussions preceded it by three years. A visiting US foreign secretary promised the prime minister to make India a "great power". Even if the prime minister was naive to believe her, the fact remains that the US unilaterally gave that assurance. Forget making India a great power. The United States kept India in the dark about David Coleman Headley's mission to the country to facilitate the 26/11 attack and did not actively assist to prevent it.

For its own reasons, the US needed to partner with India on nuclear commerce. Still, it did little substantial to prevent 26/11, except to provide some non-actionable intelligence. Does the United States not have anti-terror obligations that extend to all, allies, friends and non-friends alike? Would the US permit Uighur terrorist attacks against China because they do not clash with US interests, and perhaps even advance them? Would it turn a blind eye to Lashkar-e-Toiba assaults on India, so long they do not affect US goals?

Indeed, this is what has happened. Before 9/11, the United States was barely concerned about Islamic terrorism. Indeed, it nurtured terrorism in South Asia by fomenting it in Afghanistan against the Soviets with the assistance of the jihadis in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Out of the Afghan laboratory of terrorism came Osama Bin Laden, and he turned his wrath on America. And still, the US distinguishes between "good" and "bad terrorists".

What the latest US defence spending bill articulates on terrorism is this. If US goals meet those of India in the region, then maybe India would be covered in America's counter-terrorism schemes, and not otherwise. But 26/11 shows that, even in phases of close US-India cooperation, America will not save a friend. Why should India or the rest of the world reciprocate then? The world stood behind the US after 9/11. But America is not decent to do the same, nor does it consider it dutiful to combat terrorism worldwide without discrimination.

In his meeting with president Barack Obama in Bali, Manmohan Singh said "there are no irritants between our two countries". The prime minister forgot 26/11 and how the United States let down the country. With such friends, who needs enemies?