The unease of Pakistan on a number of agreements reached between India and the US in wake of President Obama’s recent visit to India, can be gauged from Prime Minister’s advisor on Foreign and National Security affair Sartaj Aziz’s statement that: “Pakistan reserves the right to safeguard its national security interests”. Especially grating for Pakistan, has been the understanding between India and the US on three main areas: 1) Transfer of civilian nuclear technology to India; 2) US support for India to become permanent member of UN’s Security Council, and 3), US’s support of India’s position on terrorism in the region.
Pakistan feels that some of these agreement between India and the US could potentially de-stabilize the region: “whereas, Pakistan expects the US to play a constructive role for strategic stability and balance in South Asia” as was reiterated by Mr. Aziz. It is believed that some of Pakistan’s concerns are shared by China as well. Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Raheel was in China, when President Obama was visiting India. China as usual expressed strong support for Pakistan, calling it an irreplaceable friend.
On the issue of transfer of nuclear technology to India, for civilian purposes, Islamabad is apprehensive, that this transfer of nuclear fuel under nuclear cooperation agreement would unburden domestic uranium resources of India – which could then be made available to India’s ambitions nuclear arms program. President Obama, hailed this nuclear cooperation agreement, signed six years ago, as a great break through. Only now have the two countries resolved the India’s nuclear liability law and American requirement for monitoring of material provided to India under the agreement. Pakistan rightly feels that this agreement could have a detrimental impact on deterrence stability in South Asia.
As an alternative narrative, Pakistan’s eminent physicist Dr. Pervaiz Hoodbhay, claims that even India would not be an eventual winner in this transaction. Accordingly to Dr. Hoodby electricity provided by Nuclear reactors, is not only fearsomely expensive; but extremely dangerous also. Indians are still smarting from the leakage of cyanide gas at Union Carbide plant in Bhopal in 1984, which killed over 5000 people. A Nuclear disaster could be infinitely more destructive.
American support for India’s quest to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council: is another red flag to Pakistan. Being a regional hegemon in the region already, a permanent status at the U.N Security Council, would further give impetus to India’s expansionist designs. Pakistan further argues correctly: that being a perpetual violator, India has no moral right to aspire for apermanent place on the UN. In any event, the global trend is more towards democratization of elite clubs like the Security Council, rather than adding more holy cows to it.
The third issue, which apparently miffed Pakistani leadership, was President Obama’s statements about terrorism in the region. In his first statement before embarking on his visit to India, Obama said: ‘’ Safe havens with in Pakistan are not acceptable’’. Mr Obama then at the conclusion of his visit in a joint statement with the host, called upon Pakistan: ‘’ to bring the alleged perpetrations of Mumbai attack, to justice ‘’ The statements were particularly waxing for Pakistan, because under the new Army chief, a sea change in Pakistan’s policy towards terrorism has occurred. Terrorists of all hue and persuasion are hit and eliminated with equal ferocity. The alleged perpetrators of Mumbai attack are already in jail, and Pakistan’s legal process is taking its due course.
It is also not, as if India is a totally aloof bystander in terrorism being unleased in Pakistan, especially Balochistan. A video clip gone viral on social media, shows, Mr. Ajit Doval, India’s national Security Advisor, claiming that under the new government, India’s policy has gone from being defensive to being one of offensive defense. Mr. Doval then goes on to threaten Pakistan. Saying that if Pakistan does another Bombay, they may lose Balochistan.
In a counter narrative a left leaning Indian intellectual namely Praful Bidwai posits: that Obama’s visit’s true significance lies overwhelmingly in the “Joint strategic vision, of the two countries, for Asia – Pacific and Indian ocean region”. And in the agreement’s, of Military co-operation between the two nations. The US wants India, to act as a counterweight to China, safeguarding maritimesecurity throughout the region including the South China Sea.
The underlying idea is to recruit India into a partnership with the US as part of US “Pivot” to Asia, to contain China’s military and economic power. The some proposal in a diluted from was rejected by the Congress government 2012, but is now being enthusiastically embarrassed by the right wing Modi government.
Pakistan’s concerns, regarding Indo-US agreements, seems to have further sharpened, due to the chauvinistic position – that Modi government – has assumed towards Pakistan, since it has assumed power. The visit of Pakistani P.M on the oath taking ceremony of Modi, against the advise of Pakistan’s foreign office and the Military, was reciprocated by India with the cancellation of the scheduled secretary level talks between the two countries. The meeting of the Pakistan’s Ambassador in India with Kashmiri Hurriat leaders –a routine affair; was given as the lame excuse for the cancellation of the talks.
Small arms and artillery fire across, both the line of control and the working boundary, by India, was increased to an unprecedented level. Indian defense and interior minister, gave belligerent statements emphasizing upon Pakistan, that the situation had changed with the change ofgovernment in Delhi. It seems that India’s bellicose and aggressive policy towards Pakistan is being mapped out by the Rashtya Sweyams sang (RSS). India by its offensive policy and threat of amending article 370 – which gives special status to Kashmir – is trying to take Kashmir of the negotiating table.
Under the circumstances, Pakistan should not solely depend on an unreliable and fickle ally like the US. Pakistan has to fend for its self, and look for allies in closer geographical proximity. It is heartening that Pakistan’s ties with Russia are improving, and its relations with China, seems to have cemented further. Pakistan must strive further, and be more autonomous in developing its relations with Iran. It is unbecoming of an independent country, to sulk at the prospect of improving ties between America and India. In fact this development should be used as an opportunity to wean off unhealthy dependency on any one country. The US on its part should also desist from disturbing the balance of power in the region, and enable Pakistan to fight its war against terror more effectively.