PRIME Minister Imran Khan’s peregrination to America has not only fetched sizeable achievements addendum to hopes to alleviate economic woes but also revealed growing crevices between India and American relations. The Indo-US relations are drifting into troubles which is exacerbating with each passing day. Beyond any doubt, America holds the status of Godfather for both South Asian nuclear rivals and without American endorsement both can lurch for their global stature.
In Patron-Clint relation America would not stomach unacceptable level of assertiveness in foreign policies of its clients, at least until America enjoys the status of superpower. However, India tries its best to behave as an independent pole of power in evolving poly-centric power structures. The patron does not like this and to curb Indian reckless swagger, Trump’s offer to mediate on Kashmir issue can be taken as another cog in the designed wheel aim to move Indian foreign policy in harmony to the American grand strategy.
The roots of the ongoing troubled course can be traced to May 2018 Wuhan Summit between China and India. The summit marked a new epoch in Sino-Indo relations and both neighbours embarked upon the route of deeper understanding, cooperation, mutual respect, compromise and neutrality in order to maintain their walk peacefully towards their goals. Since Wuhan understanding, the relations between both states thrived considerably in different areas. The upward trajectory in Sino-Indo relations has sundry setbacks for American strategic designs in Indo-Pacific. First, India being declared falcrum of American struggles to keep China under check is at stake. Second, India is shirking assigned security responsibilities being claimant of the regional power and aspirant of the great power status. Instead it adopted free rider attitude in American provided security net. While on the other side, Pakistan’s compliancy brings fortune to America, more precisely in Afghanistan.
As all believe about multilateral nature of global structure, in the face of dispersing power President Trump pushed harder his alliance members to share the ever-growing burden. India is one of them. It has also been subjected to Trump’s unleashed trade crusade. In early June 2019, America ended preferential trade status for India from its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). It will impact more than $5.6bn (£4.3bn) worth of exports to enter the US duty free.
Another important move that not only underscored Pakistan’s concerns about regional security but was huge setback for Indian machinations to undermine Pakistan’s national security was the US decision to declare Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) as a global terrorist organization. Pakistani intelligence agencies maintain that the arrested alleged Raw agent Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav has confessed RAW’s all-out support to BLA to undermine Pakistan’s peace. Apart from Jadhav’s confession an article in The Hindu on 3 July 2019, entitled Explained: The Baloch Liberation Army averred in detail Indian links with BLA. Designation of BLA as a global terrorist organization is another nightmare for India’s Afghan policy aim at Pakistan.
The patron-client relationship between India and America is getting through stress and strain. As client tries to defy, patron rushes to inflict punishment. Former US National Security Advisor Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski once rightly pointed out that India is not a great power but suffering self-exaggerated sense. The concept of Indian strategic autonomy is anachronistic, and principle of non-alignment is not applicable in ongoing geo-political constellation. India might sell it internally and cogent domestic audience but at global level audience and stakes are quite different and high.
Pakistan, being pragmatic and cognizant of the reality, is timely playing its cards. It renders constructive efforts to end 19-year long war in Afghanistan with win-win situation for involved key stakeholders while extracting sizeable gains for its services. It strives for acceptable balance in its relations with America and China. Pakistan embraces the principle of diversification rather than being proponent of the obsolete concept of non-alignment or totally side China or America.
America is rewarding good son while punishing bad one. However, good son must remember that the next level will be harder. Once Afghanistan anathema gets done, America will drag good son in its anti-China campaign. That will be real test of Pakistani diplomats and military officials. Since disparate to Cold War’s USSR, Chinese relationship with Pakistan is higher than Himalayas, deeper than ocean and sweeter than honey. So the decision against “either with us or against us” will insurmountable.
—The writer is PC, NHA, and occasionally writes for national newspapers.