Emergence of China as a rapidly-growing economic power and its tremendous outreach in global market has left the world powers perplexed. China’s journey from a lingering agricultural country to a global manufacturing giant has literally shaken the world’s political players. Her ‘One Belt, One Road’ vision is giving may sleepless nights to the rulers and policymakers of global heavyweights.
The ‘One Belt, One Road’ (hereinafter OBOR) mainly consists of two major components: one is overland, based on traditional Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB), and the other is seaborne that is the Maritime Silk Road (MSR). Under the OBOR, a chain of projects for free trade routes linking Baltic Sea with Pacific Ocean through roads, railway lines and sea routes. The OBOR is financed through the 50-member Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The OBOR plan includes economic and political interests of all the participant states which would align themselves with China. Delicately well-knit trade connectivity among Central Asia, Southeast Asia, West Asia/Middle East, Europe and Africa up till the Mediterranean Sea via Suez Canal is the anticipated outcome of the plan.
The US considers this fast transition a threat to its imperialist designs — which can be traced back to 1898 when it took over Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii — and its global strategic objectives to maintain its hegemony as world’s sole superpower. Americans have been backing India to contain China’s economic expansion and the possible domino effect. “The US would employ all means, fair or foul, to contain and impede China from challenging the long-lasting American hegemony in the world,” as John J. Mearsheimer, a renowned political scientist puts it.
An article ‘America’s Pacific Century’ (Foreign Policy; October 11, 2011) by the then-US Secretary of State (now a presidential hopeful), Hillary R. Clinton, elaborated on the new US strategy toward the pacific region and as an official policy, it was declared that “the United States is making a strategic bet on India’s future — that India’s greater role on the world stage will enhance peace and security, that opening India’s markets to the world will pave the way to greater regional and global prosperity.” It was actually a trap to make the population, poverty and insurgencies-ridden nation of India to stand as a counterweight to the emerging giant i.e. China.
Initially, India was reluctant to offer US this uncomfortably-free hug as the country had traditionally maintained a non-aligned policy and also enjoyed cordial relations with Russia as its Cold War partner. US too — having compulsions in Afghanistan and a needed Pakistan’s role — could not open its policy toward India. Now, however, both the countries have come clear on their newer policies. Uncle Sam’s play with India is straightaway in utter neglect of Pakistan’s sensitivities and regional compulsions. For instance, recently the US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter reportedly opened a meeting with senior Pakistani military leadership by declaring: “I must tell you, I am a friend of India.” The world powers must consider that if the US and its allies would keep on arming India, it would be very hard for Pakistan to maintain the conventional as well as nuclear deterrence. The consequences of it could be irrevocable.
Besides India’s own traditional scuffle with China, the time-tested China-Pakistan strategic partnership and both countries’ numerous joint ventures in economic and security spheres, including the mega project of CPEC, has lured India to catch the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Owing to the long-term positive economic implications of CPEC for both countries, Americans and Indians seem hell bent on going out of way and to do everything they can to sabotage this megaproject. India’s misplaced emphasis is on Iranian port of Chabahar as a rival to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port for the landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics bearing the fact that more economic dependence on Pakistan means — in today’s world — larger political clout in the region.
India’s backing of insurgent groups in Balochistan is an open secret now especially after the arrest and confession of serving Indian officer Kulbhushan Jadhav. Moreover, Modi’s speech on Independence Day clears all the ambiguities and brings to the surface India’s clandestine role in Balochistan, which it would always blatantly deny.
Among many others, India has been extended the following concessions by US and its allied states either at the cost of Pakistan or in stark violation of their declared global commitments:
Indo-US civil nuclear deal known as 123 Agreement out of sheer defiance to international nonproliferation regimes;
India-IAEA agreement (2009) permitting India to expedite its nuclear weapons programme;
US sale and installation of six nuclear reactors in India;
India’s inclusion in Missile Technology Control Regime (June 2016)
US-Israel assistance to India in establishment of Nuclear City for uranium enrichment in the Indian state of Karnataka;
Similar assistance for India’s development of its lethal thermonuclear weapons programme;
India, despite not being NPT signatory, availing itself of all the benefits of an NSG state;
Israel, Japan, Canada, and Australia — US-allied states — are also persuaded to sign defence and nuclear agreements with India without bothering about their implications for regional stability and strategic balance;
India’s extended and unabated role in Afghanistan without addressing Pakistan’s justified concerns;
Free and foul play of India’s secret service RAW in cahoots with its cousins intelligence outfits CIA, Mossad and NDS in Balochistan, Karachi, Fata and Afghanistan to orchestrate and unleash terror campaign against Pakistan; and Criminal silence of the West especially the US, the so-called champion of democracy and human rights, on Indian forces’ brutal use of violence and human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.
Then the recently signed Indo-US Defence Pact named the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) is another manifestation of US patronage of India. This is very important agreement as it aims a massive (over 60 percent of its surface ships) deployment of US Navy in Indo-Pacific. As the US policymakers call present century as the Pacific Century — China-centric — the role to be assigned to India in this regard seems to be central through LEMOA and such other soon-to-be-concluded agreements including the Communications and Information Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geospatial Intelligence .
Through recently signed LEMOA, both the countries will permit each other free berthing and logistics support to transiting vessels. The US instead of establishing new naval facilities in the Indian Ocean would benefit from already existing Indian Naval bases and facilities. Similarly, the US naval facilities in Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore would be at India’s disposal on need basis.
Admittedly, all the sovereign states have the right to knit themselves in any contract or agreement but it must not be at the cost of a nation which you call your frontline ally. Pakistan still enjoys numerous leverages especially in Afghanistan and its commitment to international peace and security is beyond doubt. Today, Pakistan is literally at crossroads of its history as far as its foreign policy priorities are concerned. The country might have to go for some policy paradigm shift as a last resort if the Indo-US union would further try to corner it.
The writer is security commentator and a lecturer at Cadet College Okara. He can be reached at: email@example.com