InternationalVOLUME 16 ISSUE # 07

Unfounded charges

India and the United States have signed an agreement to share military information and ramp up security and strategic ties. A joint statement after a meeting of their foreign and defence ministers in New Delhi indicates their growing relations are directed at China and Pakistan, which have come even closer to each after the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

As the US officials’ prime target was China, the Indian officials were only concerned about Pakistan and did not directly refer to China, after its troops recently pushed further into territory once patrolled exclusively by India in the Himalayas. A summer of fighting saw India lose control over about 300 square kilometers of land along the disputed mountainous terrain. At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in clashes with Chinese forces. The US officials emphasized the need for enhanced cooperation to confront Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. ”Our leaders and our citizens see with increasing clarity that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is no friend to democracy, the rule of law, transparency, nor to freedom of navigation, the foundation of a free and open and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in New Delhi. He and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper met their Indian counterparts at an annual 2+2 ministerial dialogue. The two sides also “denounced the use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross-border terrorism in all its forms” and emphasised the “need for concerted action against all terrorist networks, including al-Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.”

It is obvious that the Indian cross-border terrorism allegations against Pakistan aimed to divert the world attention from its human right atrocities in occupied Kashmir. “Pakistan has been consistently highlighting the threats posed to strategic stability in South Asia as a result of the provision of advanced military hardware, technologies and knowledge to India,” the Foreign Office said in its reaction. It added that India’s massive acquisition of armaments and expansion of its nuclear forces, including introduction of new destabilising weapon systems, were developments with serious repercussions for peace and stability in South Asia. The statement noted that the recent unprecedented rate of missile tests conducted by India was yet another manifestation of dangerous Indian conventional and nuclear military build-ups. “It again corroborates concerns expressed by several international experts on the military spin-offs of conducting high technology trade with India, which has not only eroded the international norms but has also resulted in negatively affecting the strategic stability in South Asia,” the Foreign Office said. China also dismissed Pompeo’s accusations. “We urge Pompeo to abandon his Cold War mentality, zero-sum mindset, and stop harping on the ‘China threat’,” the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman told a news briefing in Beijing.

Under the new defence pact – the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation, the United States will sell more fighter planes and drones to India. The pact will give India access to a range of topographical, nautical and aeronautical data that is considered vital for targeting missiles and armed drones. It would also allow the United States to provide advanced navigational aids and avionics on US-supplied aircraft to India. The signing of the long-negotiated defence pact comes in the backdrop of India’s tense border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.

It has been the policy of the US to take credit for peace and blame others for terrorism, while it is behind unrest in most countries of the world, from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria to Yemen and Iraq. The whole world knows occupied Kashmir is a regional and international dispute and UN resolutions accept Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. When India uses force to change the special status of the valley and kills innocent Kashmiris struggling for their legitimate right, the US looks the other way. The same is the policy in Palestine. It shamelessly ignores Israeli aggression against innocent Palestinians.

The unwarranted allegations against Pakistan are an attempt by the US to please India in its efforts to contain China. It is a fact that the terrorist networks, which the US and India have mentioned, do not exist on Pakistan soil. Pakistan has successfully dismantled hideouts of terrorists from its areas bordering Afghanistan and their sleeper cells in urban areas. Most of the terrorist outfits were created abroad and a few, which grew in some areas of the country, have already been eliminated. However, the US and India do not miss an opportunity to target Pakistan. They put pressure on Pakistan through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which threatens to place the country on its grey list to harm it financially.

The US has also openly opposed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in a bid to malign the project and advance its interests in the region. Several US media reports expressed concerns about “Pakistan losing sovereignty to its deep-pocketed Asian ally,” which can use Gwadar as a strategic card against India and the United States if tensions worsen to the point of naval blockades as the two powers increasingly confront each other at sea. The US is also “worried” about Pakistan’s Chinese debt problem and Chinese state-owned companies constructing seaports at strategic spots around the Indian Ocean, including places in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, which it considers a threat to its interests and India, its regional ally.

If analyzed carefully, recent US actions reflect the feeling of an enemy and a former friend of Pakistan. The US and India are concerned about rising cooperation between Pakistan and China. Pakistan has also become a battleground between the US and China in a trade war between the two superpowers. The US curtailed Pakistan’s security-related aid after opposing an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout for it. It indicates the US frustration after Pakistan came out of its influence and entered into strategic partnership with China. Pakistan has accepted the new partnership between the US and India and they should also acknowledge its geo-strategic relationship with China.