Delhi Analysts View the latest US-India Defence Pact
Strategic Partnership With US to Contain Pakistan
DELHI, July 5: India and the US have taken the “Next Step
in Strategic Partnership” which has been touted as “landmark”
because it moves the two countries out of the Cold War mind set
but the joint “sea control” operations in far off
waters does little to meet immediate threats faced by both countries
from terrorism from a common source.
as Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee is signing framework agreements
for military cooperation over the next ten years American newspapers
are revealing facets of geo-politics that impinge on the security
of both countries: Pakistan’s continued involvement in training
Jihadi terrorists and its obfuscation of Osama bin Laden’s
trail since he left Tora Bora in Afghanistan in a hurry under
US bombardment creates threats to both the US and India in very
could be said that if the fountain-head of terrorism is effectively
tackled framework agreements for long-term military-to-military
cooperation would become redundant. The US has been the victim
of perhaps the most horrendous series of terrorist strikes on
9/11and India has suffered several decades of assaults on its
territorial integrity and sovereignty under the garb of “political
and diplomatic support” to “freedom fighters”.
In Kashmir these “freedom fighters” have since 1947
itself been Pakistani troops in civilian disguise and this has
recurred in 1965 and as recently as 1999 in Kargil.
reports speak of terrorist cells in “sleeper mode”
waiting for an appropriate moment to strike inside the US itself.
This read with the possibility that the Dr AQ Khan network of
nuclear proliferation has distributed miniaturized nuclear warhead
devices to all and sundry and the likelihood of the use of “dirty
nukes” to create widespread panic is an accepted fact of
life it would appear that long-term “framework agreements”
seem wilfully designed to ignore the obvious immediate threat.
the same time the US offer of F-16 aircraft to both India and
Pakistan in a list of weapons it is willing to sell to both countries
does tend to queer a pitch which the US itself says is a “nuclear
flash point”. That nuclear weapons were being prepared by
Pakistan during the Kargil war is a revelation that has come from
US sources of the same kind that are also now reporting that the
Jihadi element in Pakistani society have been put on “sleep”
mode to try and achieve a political end in Kashmir. But terror
remains central to the achievement of that goal and nuclear weapons
can be used to that end.
the case of both countries threats have been attributed to important
political personalities in Pakistan. The name of Fazlur Rahman
Khalil has been mentioned as being the mentor of persons arrested
in the US after they received terrorist training in Pakistan and
Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has been fingered by
no less a personage than Yasin Malik for playing host to 3500
young men sent out of Jammu and Kashmir for training in Pakistan.
are, therefore, personalities with a Jihadi bent of mind in almost
every segment of Pakistani society, more particularly the military
elements of which have already made two attempts to assassinate
President Pervez Musharraf. This does raise grave doubts about
the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and the possibility
that it could fall into Jihadi hands.
should be India’s endeavor to lay greater emphasis on the
paragraph containing a commitment for “interaction at various
levels to devise strategies to prevent terrorist activities in
the region. This is move beyond the frequent assertions by US
officials that if there are terrorist training camps in Pakistan
they “would be gone tomorrow”.
is in this context that the US offer to India of Patriot anti-missile
systems makes no sense in the nuclear context because even if
an interception takes places the fall-out from radioactive debris
will inevitably fall on Indian territory just as it did during
the Gulf war when the Patriots did intercept the incoming Iraqi
Scud missiles but there was always collateral damage in both Israel
and Saudi Arabia from falling debris.
there had, indeed, been a nuclear or chemical weapons or any other
kind of weapon of mass destruction (WMD) in the Iraqi arsenal
the consequences would have been horrendous not just for the two
victims but the region as a whole.
it would be incumbent on the Government of India to make a proper
assessment of equipment being offered by the US to both India
and Pakistan before committing itself to accept anything on offer.
It is not without significance that Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee
stressed that the “First Steps Towards Strategic Partnership”
should not become merely a buyer-seller relationship.
though it is still an infant thought policing the Malacca Straits
in search of, among other things, weapons of mass destruction
has implications for the India’s relations with ASEAN because
it is in all respects its “inland sea” which should
by rights be patrolled and protected by the members of the ASEAN.
Because the US enjoys a cozy relationship with ASEAN it would
be more appropriate that patrolling and coordination of operations
in this area should include the countries of the region.
offer of including an Indian observer within the Pacific Command
is in keeping with that same element of “distance”
between India’s local concerns and its role within the global
scheme of things as the US wants it. India’s direct interest
is not the Pacific Command but the Central Command the “area
of responsibility” of which covers this part of the world
including Jammu and Kashmir.
phrase “area of responsibility” has replaced “area
of operations” that had long delineated the jurisdiction
of the Central Command or CENTCOM as it is called since it was
created after the failure of the US Seventh Fleet posted at the
time in Subic Bay in the Philippines to reach the Bay of Bengal
in time to intervene to pull Pakistan’s chestnuts out of
the fire in 1971. But that was at the height of the Cold War which
is not the case now.
to any strategic partnership is cooperation in the production
of military hardware to tackle the common threats. In recent times
the bad blood created by US objections to the sale to China by
Israel of military equipment containing US-made components and
parts is an indicator that there are national interests that have
a very narrow meaning. This fact is highlighted because it is
with Israel that Washington shares the highest level of “strategic
if Indo-US relations in the next decade are confined to the sale-purchase
context India’s concern will remain over the possibility
of imposing sanctions and embargos within Washington’s global
commitments. Thus on the face of it the exchange of dual-use technologies
will be the benchmark of the efficacy of this new “strategic
India, there is one school of thought that suggests that too great
a dependence on a single source for weapons supplies is detrimental
of national interests. But the history of Indian military-industrial
complex has been replete with US denial of technology.
the US should seek to forge such a relationship with a nation
it feels had made a fetish of non-alignment during the Cold War
is a sign of the changing times. However, though it is too much
to expect the US to change its attitude towards Pakistan on which
it has bestowed the status of major Non-NATO ally for “cooperating”
in the War Against Terror.
long as Washington takes the position that Islamabad is doing
all it can to bring the top brass of the Al Qaeda and the Taliban
to book there will always been a definite tilt towards it. It
is something India will have to live with. For that it will have
to keep its powder dry in Jammu and Kashmir. - Syndicate Features