Even as the United States has blamed Pakistan for deteriorating Indo-Pak relations, it doesn’t mean much for India as it is unlikely that Islamabad would mend its ways. During a Congressional hearing on Thursday, Daniel Coats, director, National Intelligence of the US, warned that Indo-Pak relations would worsen further if another “high-profile” terrorist attack emanates from across the border in 2017.
“Islamabad’s failure to curb support to anti-India militants and New Delhi’s growing intolerance of this policy, coupled with a perceived lack of progress in Pakistan’s investigations into the January 2016 Pathankot cross-border attack, set the stage for a deterioration of bilateral relations in 2016,” PTI quoted Coats as saying. He supported India’s pre-condition for bilateral talks with Pakistan — that is Islamabad should stop supporting cross-border terrorism.
The US’ appraisal of India’s decades-old concerns vis-a-vis Pakistan is welcome but it is unlikely to benefit India much, and New Delhi would have to ultimately fight its own war against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Here are five resaons:
Pakistan is taking advantage of China’s support
Pakistan has found a strong ally in the form of China and both countries benefit mutually with their ties. While China provides Pakistan strategic and diplomatic support in the international arena, Beijing benefits by making inroads in Pakistani territory through infrastructure projects and maintaining its threatening position vis-a-vis India.
China has also thwarted India’s attempts to get Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared as a UN-designated terrorist. Azhar is supported by Pakistan government.
With OBOR, China is expanding its influence around India and the rest of World
China has embarked on one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the world in the form of ‘One Belt One Road (OBOR)’ initiative. While the several projects under OBOR will have multiple countries as partners, China’s unspoken strategic ambition to become the most powerful country is writ large on the initiative.
In India’s neighborhood, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal have already agreed to participate in the project.
It is believed that OBOR would massively strengthen China’s economic, political and security influence in India’s neighbourhood. In an article published in The Indian Express recently, strategic affairs expert C Raja Mohan wrote that OBOR would involve “the export of Chinese capital, labour, technology, industrial standards, commercial benchmarks, use of the Yuan, development of new ports, industrial hubs, special economic zones and military facilities, under Beijing’s auspices.”
In an article published in The Guardian last year, Naom Chomsky wrote, “Gwadar will be part of China’s “string of pearls”, bases being constructed in the Indian Ocean for commercial purposes but potentially also for military use, with the expectation that China might someday be able to project power as far as the Persian Gulf for the first time in the modern era.”
The US is receding
Under President Donald Trump, the US continues to flex its muscles across the world but it is receding and it is a fact. Despite over a decade-long “war on terror”, the US has failed to curb terrorism. For its own geopolitical interests in South Asia, US has remained an ally of terror-sponsor Pakistan. And, even as President Trump has vowed to end terrorism from the face of the earth, he is yet to act against one of the prime culprits — Pakistan.
With increasing influence of China as well as Russia and its own military failures, US is no more the force it used to be. The US is also reportedly having a frosty relationship with its long-term allies. Consider these two examples: In February this, The Washington Post revealed that Trump had a heated conversation with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee swap deal and the call was ended abruptly. In March, Trump’s fundamental differences with German Chancellor Angela Merkel became a talk of the world when they appeared for their first face-to-face meeting. The basic reason behind Trump’s frosty relations with allies is his attempt to take the US on an isolationalist past and promoting an economic nationalist vision.
In March, Trump’s fundamental differences with German Chancellor Angela Merkel became a talk of the world when they appeared for their first face-to-face meeting. Basic reason behind Trump’s frosty relations with allies is his attempt to take US on an isolationalist past and promoting an economic nationalist vision.
The US had to never join a coalition of equal powers. Much of its strength in past was also because of its partners in Western Europe. But with the apparently declining power of European countries and the rise of China, Russia and well as India, all equations have changed in the world.
When it comes to China, US is often seen being rebuked by Beijing — be it over the latter’s plan to deploy THAAD in South Korea or even for trade-related concerns.
Pakistan would turn to China
According to Daniel Coats, Pakistan is concerned about its international isolation due to its dwindling position against India’s rising international status, expanded foreign outreach and deepening ties with the US. “Pakistan will likely turn to China to offset its isolation, empowering a relationship that will help Beijing to project influence into the Indian Ocean,” he said.
India can’t rely on the US in its hour of need
As the US recedes, India cannot rely on the country in its own hour of need. Simply, because international affairs are powered not by a sense of charity, but national greed. It is unlikely that the US would stand against China to support India and risk its own interests. Moreover, Trump has his own domestic worries.