By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Pakistan’s main interest in forging ties with US in 1950s was owing to its security concerns against India five times bigger in size and resources which to this date has not reconciled to Pakistan’s existence. Pakistan remained the most allied ally of USA since 1954 whereas India remained the camp follower of Soviet Union. The US tried hard to woo India particularly after its skirmish with China in 1962 but couldn’t succeed. Despite India’s coldness, the Democrats in particular strove hard to induce India to jilt USSR and fall in their embrace.
When Pakistan began to get closer to China in early 1960s due to US leanings towards India, the US had expressed its displeasure. Pak-China friendship continued to blossom despite US reproaches. It was essentially because of US special liking for India that it not only refused to assist Pakistan during 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars but also punished Pakistan by way of blocking flow of war munitions knowingly that Soviet Union was meeting defence needs of India. Had the US stood by the side of its ally, Pakistan would have won 1965 war and would not have lost East Pakistan.
After fall of USSR in 1991, the US dumped Pakistan and happily hugged India, which at that time was feeling marooned. It preferred India over its old and loyal ally because India had agreed to help US in containing fast expanding influence of China in the region. Pakistan refused to perform this role because of its extra ordinary close relations with China. It had already annoyed many neighbouring countries when it became part of western pacts. It had to suffer direly for acting as a conduit to bring US-China closer in 1971.
Pakistan wanted to maintain close relations with USA but not at the cost of China. China factor was one of the principal
factors in cementing Indo-Soviet ties and in burgeoning Indo-US strategic relations. While the US has never objected to India signing defence and nuclear deals with Russia or cementing political, cultural and economic ties with China, or becoming the biggest buyer of Israeli arms, it frowns at Pakistan if it attempts to fulfill its military, economic or energy needs from other countries. It has all along tried to restrain Pakistan from developing closer relations with China and objected to any defence equipment acquired from Beijing.
Besides China, Iran-Pakistan friendship is another irritation for USA since current Iranian leadership is on its hit list. Pakistan has inked Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project which has not been received well in Washington. The project helps Iran in easing US diplomatic and economic pressure, which is being intensified to force Iran to give up its weapon grade nuclear ambitions. Much to the frustration of Washington, so far its pressure tactics have made no impact on Iranian leadership. Rather, US-Israeli machinations have further steeled their resolve to achieve nuclear capability at any cost.
The US has advised Pakistan to remain at a distance from Iran and scrap gas pipeline deal without realizing Pakistan’s worsening state of energy crisis. Our gas needs are mounting at an alarming rate. It is estimated that by 2013-14, as against our production rate of 4 billion per cubic feet the requirement would jump to 8 billion cft per day. While pressuring Pakistan to cancel the deal, the US is not prepared to give civil nuclear facility. India opted out of Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project at the behest of USA but was rewarded in the form of civil nuclear deal.
While America is prodding Pakistan hard to befriend India and stop treating it as arch enemy, it doesn’t press India to bring a change in its belligerent attitude and hegemonic policies. The US has helped India in acquiring economic, military and nuclear strengths thereby seriously disturbing regional balance of power. It has done so in disregard of the fact that India is ambitious and has dangerous designs against Pakistan. Being an apiarian country, it has constructed 62 dams over rivers flowing into Pakistan to turn its fertile lands arid. It has resorted to this immoral and inhuman practice since it is in forcible occupation of two-third Kashmir, which hpw also enables Indian forces to encircle Pakistan. It is essentially because of sinister designs it harbors against Pakistan that it is not prepared to find an amicable solution to this chronic problem for the last six decades.
Pakistan would not have given preference to security matters over development had India believed in the policy of peaceful coexistence and promoted peace in South Asia. Pakistan would never have pursued expensive nuclear path if hegemonic India not done so in 1974. Pakistan would not have carried out nuclear tests in May 1998 had India conducted five nuclear tests and then hurled vitriolic and provocative statements. Pakistan’s tit for tat response was not to overawe India but to mellow down its belligerence and to deter India from undertaking another 1971 like invasion. Pakistan would have signed NPT and CTBT had India done so and USA not taken a discriminatory stance. Pakistan made umpteen proposals in 1980s and in 1990s to make South Asia nuclear free but each offer was haughtily spurned by India.
Unresolved Kashmir dispute has kept India-Pakistan at warpath. Time has not diminished suspicions and antagonism since India has neither resolved Kashmir issue nor brought any change in its hostile attitude. In fact India has become economically sound and militarily more powerful and aggressive. It has become a strategic partner of US and latter has pledged to turn India into a major world power and permanent member of UNSC.
The Republican Party and now the Democrat Party are equally close to India and go all-out to keep it in good humor. This is evident from the lucrative economic, military and nuclear agreements doled out and the fawning attitude of each US official visiting New Delhi. It was essentially to earn India’s goodwill that the US has been whipping Pakistan under various pretexts. The US is least interested in finding an amicable solution to Kashmir dispute since any facilitation in this direction will be at the cost of annoying India. The US fail to comprehend that when it talks of Indo-Pak amity, until and unless Indian occupation of Kashmir gets terminated and water aggression against Pakistan effectively checked and reversed, meaningful goodwill cannot be promoted between the two arch rivals.
Soon after occupying Afghanistan, the US gave a green signal to India to not only consolidate its position in Afghanistan but to make full use of Afghan soil to undermine Pakistan, which it had designated as a frontline state to fight and defeat terrorism. Well knowing that India does not share border with Afghanistan, is a Hindu dominated country and has played no role in war on terror, yet the US is determined to make it a key player in Afghan affairs and to let India fill the vacuum once it departs. Indian military has now been assigned to train Afghan Police and Army even after Gen Kayani expressed his strong reservations.
As long as Af-Pak policy framed by Obama was to the advantage of India and harmful to Pakistan, Indian leaders were quite satisfied and kept making additional suggestions to make it more biting. It projected Pakistan as a collaborator and part of the problem. Now that the US has decided to take Pakistan off the hook, India is feeling highly perturbed. Had the US weapon sight been shifted from Pakistan to India, latter’s worry would have been understandable. India wants Pakistan to remain a target country and is trying to befool the world that Pakistan armed forces aided by dreadful Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and assisted by China would trounce India.
Comparing political, economic and strategic clout of India vis-à-vis Pakistan, former has a definite edge. Other aspects which keep India in good books of western world are that it is a non-Muslim state and credits itself to be secular and champion of democracy. Above all, it projects itself as a bulwark against China. Notwithstanding falsification of these claims and Indian gimmicks, the US led west has accorded preferential treatment to India and has been treating Pakistan as an underdog. Even under changing geo-political realities in the region in which Pakistan’s significance has shot into prominence, it will be fanciful on part of our leaders to expect that the US would prefer Pakistan over India.
Asif Haroon Raja is a retired Brig and a defence analyst. He writes for Opinion Maker.