Col M Hanif (Retd)
INDIA’S Prime Minister, Nanendra Modi visited the US on June 8, 2016 in the fourth leg of his five-nation tour, namely, Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, the US and Mexico. During the visit Modi tried to further strengthen India-US strategic partnership, gain US support for India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as its member and to undermine Pakistan’s image in the eyes of the US leaders. This article aims to discuss important gains of Modi’s visit to the US, and their implications for Pakistan.
The first major gain from the visit is that both, Obama and Modi have outlined in their joint statement the plan to start a major US nuclear project in India, for which preparatory work on the site for six AP 1000 reactors, to be built by Westinghouse, will start immediately. After completion of the installation work, the project would be among the largest of its kind, for producing electricity. The second major achievement is that, in the joint statement India has been declared as a Major Defence Partner of the US. This means that the United States will facilitate technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners. Hence, India would receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in support of its Make In India initiative. The joint statement also acknowledges the ongoing US-India joint working group discussions on sharing aircraft carrier technologies.
The third gain is that both countries are likely to sign a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) very soon. This agreement is one of three so-called “foundational” agreements of US-India military cooperation and interoperability in practice. Two other agreements, on communications and information security (CISMOA) and on targeting and navigational data sharing (BECA), are being worked out for signing. The fourth Indian success out of the visit is that, while expressing their so called common stance against terrorism, on India’s insistence the US agreed and included in the joint statement a call “for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks, to justice. Also, Lashkar-i-Tayyaba and Jaish-I-Muhammad have been marked as terrorist organizations
The fifth gain of Modi’s visit is that he has been able to get full support of the US President Obama for India’s entry into NSG, although this time India is not likely to succeed due to the opposition of some member countries of the NSG, particularly Italy and China. The above discussed gains from the visit definitely have negative implications for Pakistan, as it is said that the gains of your enemy are your losses. Firstly, installation of six AP-1000 nuclear reactors in India will not only enable India to produce electricity, but it will also enable it to import more uranium on pretext of producing fuel for nuclear plants, that could also be used for producing fissile material for making nuclear weapons.
Secondly, declaration of India as a Major Defence Partner of the US, would enable it to receive license-free access to weapons platforms and a wide range of dual-use technologies, in support of its ‘Make In India initiative’. Sharing of the US weapons and technologies to India will erode the existing strategic balance in a major way, and to counter that, Pakistan will need to seek alternative sources of acquiring modern weapons and technologies. Thirdly, the signing of Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), and agreements on communications and information security (CISMOA) and on targeting and navigational data sharing (BECA) with the US would help India in enhancing its conventional offensive capabilities disproportionately, using the US defence facilities in the region, thus lowering Pakistan’s nuclear threshold.
Fourthly, calling upon Pakistan in the joint statement that it should bring to justice the so called perpetrators of Mumbai and Pathankot attacks and marking of Lashkar-i-Tayyaba and Jaish-I-Muhammad as terrorist organizations indicates that the US Administration is buying Indian view of Pakistan’s role in the war on terror in the region and that Modi is out to tarnish Pakistan’s image on this account. Fifthly, Modi’s success in gaining Obama’s support for its entry into NSG means that to stop India from becoming a member of NSG, Pakistan will have to rely on China’s veto, which may not happen for too long.
— The writer works for Islamabad Policy Research Institute, a think tank based in Islamabad.