Op-Ed

Is India-US Ties Cause of Concern for Pak?

Payel Chatterjee

The growing India-US ties is definitely a cause of worry for Pakistan. This fear was freshly renewed on November 8, 2010 when US President Obama visited India to hold talks regarding strengthening her economy and defense mechanism. While Indian leaders were rejoicing for the considerable success of Obama visit, Pakistan began to mull over the various possible discussions between Dr Singh and Obama. The complete indifference towards the Kashmir issue and Obama’s open support to India’s bid for a seat UN Security Council also raised a couple of eyebrows in Pakistan.

As mentioned by Reddif.com, the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit had mentioned before Obama’s visit, that Kashmir is “an issue central to peace in the region” and Pakistan would be concerned if US-India talks did not give prominence to the Kashmir issue. Barack Obama said in his address to the Indian Parliament, “I can say today — in years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member”.

According to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Obama characterized the India-US relation as one of the most “indispensable partnerships of the 21st century”. At a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama on Nov 8th,last year, Manmohan Singh said that in his discussions with the US President, they “decided to accelerate the deepening of our ties and to work as equal partners in a strategic relationship that will positively and decisively influence world peace, stability and progress.”
Dr. Manmohan Singh has high hopes that Pakistan and India would “find mechanisms that will be appropriate” to reduce conflict and tensions. According to Obama, Singh’s “sincere and relentless desire”, to pursue peace talks with Pakistan is commendable. Infact, U.S. President Barack Obama’s statement that he regards India as the “cornerstone of America’s engagement in Asia,” startled leaders in Pakistan. Obama’s claim that he “will continue to insist with Pakistan’s leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders are unacceptable and that the terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks be brought to justice,” is a definite cause of concern for Pakistan.

Moreover, India’s cooperation with the United States on issues like space, nuclear, defence etc. has been increasing. US and India decides to do away with controls on export of high technology items to India and US extended its support to India’s membership with the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Australia Group, and Wassenaar Arrangement). This step reiterated the growing trust and confidence between the two countries.

While analyzing Obama’s visit to India for the ‘Daily Times’, Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi mentioned three important cause of concern for Pakistan- “the US’s reluctance to play an active role in defusing the tension between India and Pakistan, support to the seating of India in the UN Security Council (UNSC) as a permanent veto wielding member and India’s increased role in Afghanistan.”

India’s former ambassador to the US and head of the National Security Advisory Board, Mr. Naresh Chandra analyzed Obama’s recent visit and came to the conclusion that he will no longer “mollycoddle Pakistan”. According to him Obama wants Pakistan to perform. Most importantly America never imposed any condition on India that she cannot use American military aid against any of its neighbor, like America did in the case of Pakistan.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State earlier this year, called India a “rising global power” and also claimed that, “US was committed to the modernization of India’s military and that the US military holds the maximum number of joint exercises with the Indian Army.”Pakistan’s growing fear of Indo-US reached its peak this year in January, when American Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ visit to New Delhi was coupled by Afghan Taliban suicide bombers’ attack of Kabul. Moreover, Gates’ visit was seen by Pakistan as the immediate result of India raising its military budget to approximately $40 billion.

In contrast Pakistan’s budget for 2009-10 is only $30 billion. On 3rd of June last year, India and US also held strategic dialogue in Washington and mutually promised to strengthen their cooperation in various fields like nuclear energy, defence, counter-terrorism etc. However, as quoted in the Zee News website, Phillip Crowley, the U.S. State Department spokesman, told Zee News reporters on July 28th 2010, that “A stable Pakistan is not a threat to India. A stable India does not need to be a threat to Pakistan.” He also claimed that United States military assistance given to Pakistan should not be seen as a threat to India and visa vis.However, all said and done, the recent development of strategic ties between India and the United States is raising obvious fears in Pakistan. Just like most of the countries of the world even Pakistan wants to develop diplomatic relations with the US.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer can be contacted at payel.c@iijnm.org)

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