By R R Tanoli 

The year 2014 is cut-off date for withdrawal of the US-led forces. We have seen that the US wants to exploit its position to use the Asian trade routes to her own advantage to fulfill the global designs. The importance of this region, especially the Indian Ocean, was narrated well by Admiral Robert Long in 1981 when he talked of its significance for the US and the Western world at large and put accent on “the will and resolve of US to protect vital interests there”.

……….   Viewed in this perspective, it is not the “End Game” in Afghanistan. It is rather the start of a “New Game” and the entire region has much on stake. Thus, rather than a War on Terror, it should be termed as a Terror of War. Terror of war and a response thereof are interconnected in all dimensions. Preparation for war leads to the better strategy that ultimately results in the victory. Formulation of strategy requires priorities. The best strategy, as Sun Tzu says, is to attack the enemy’s strategy. This is but a simple way to describe the warfare.

Pax Americana – a global hegemony exercised by Americans, the term used to indicate the military and economic position of the US in relation to other nations requires enough resources to corroborate its global leadership syndrome. The world is already pluralized. The awakening of China, integration of Europe and revival of Russia make things difficult to support her supremacy therefore formulization of global strategy for supremacy in view of the emerging realities is always a top priority for the US.

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Inter alia, economic globalization today dominates strategic considerations. A successful economic development strategy focus on making available the resources to compete and lead in today’s global economic structure. This has led to enhanced maritime security concerns as some 95% trade in the world is sea-borne. Asia-Pacific region is emerging as the theatre of growing US-China competition as China is asserting its claim over the South China and East China seas.

……….China new strategy is to claim South China Sea as her “inviolable sovereignty” and to deflect the leaders of this region from “Dollar Diplomacy.” The Americans on the other hand have understood that China’s aggressive economic policies threaten to take over from the US the title of world’s leading economy. The US is now using both coercive and persuasive techniques in order to create a balance of power in this region, besides helping India to rise against China. It is also using the stratagem of divide and rule to maintain its supremacy.

It is much better to subdue the enemy without fighting in keeping with the Sun Tzu’s maxims. This precept is also being used in the modern warfare, which is much more deceptive and deceitful compared with the traditional meaning and manifestation of war.

The US has many good reasons to see India as a maritime strategic partner. The US has vital interest in a balance of power in Asia within the bounds of the US agenda. An old saying ‘the sea unites while the land divides’ well explained the US-India relationship. The US new strategic priorities are to develop long term maritime strategic partnership with India. Inside story is to contain the expanding Chinese influence not only in South China Sea but also in Indian Ocean. Therefore India may be playing a central role in the US security calculus for the Indian Ocean Region which is clearly manifested in the unprecedented expansion of Indian Naval capabilities including the recent induction of Akula class nuclear submarine from Russia.

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……….This poses great security challenge to Pakistan when viewed in the Indian hegemonic perspective. Regarding Afghanistan, the role of India is already highlighted as the ‘economic linchpin’ after the withdrawal of American troops. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake stated that “any discussion of South Asia has to start with India.” A new ‘Great Game’ is ready to be implemented just after the withdrawal of US led forces from Afghanistan with a new name of ‘New Silk Road Strategy.’ Rather than pulling out, the US is actually strengthening its feet and roots in Asia. The game is on TAPI vs. IP (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline Project versus Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project).

……….In my opinion, which India may take as a piece of advice, the US has a history of allying with the weaker nation to fulfill its own agenda of balance of power in a given region and later to abandon the allies. Pakistan, too, is a victim of the same US strategy. Pakistanis have a good experience of dealing with the US as an ‘ally’ and can thus opine better. The US may give some role to India in Afghanistan, which would be apparently lucrative but may become a strategic quagmire for India in the long run.

In case of Pakistan, it is time to rethink the foreign policy. There is a need to formulate the foreign policy including the nature of relationship with the post-US Afghanistan and the post-Afghanistan US. All stakeholders need to play a role in such an endeavour. If we fail to take stock of the situation today, it may lead us to another sea of troubled waters in the post-2014 South-Central Asia.

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