Trump-Modi nexus & regional stability

Dr Muhammad Khan

THE “New India” vision of Prime Minister Modi and President Trump’s vision of “making America great again” have indeed added a new dimension in the bilateral relationship of India and United Sates. Declaring India as a major defence partner, the joint statement, issued after the Modi-Trump meeting, “pledged to deepen defence and security cooperation”. As a proof of this cooperation, United States announced sale of 22 ‘Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial Systems’ to India, which dawdled since 2016. This defence sale, the first ever to India by US would cost $2 billion. Besides, US agreed to sell Boeing C-17 transport aircraft of worth $366 million to India. It is worth mentioning that as per the arms sale purchase data of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) India has attained the status of world’s largest major arms importer from 2012 to 2016 with 13% of global arms imports. From 2007 to 2016, India has increased its arms imports by 43%. Surprisingly, US has been the leading supplier of the defence equipment to India, ‘signing contracts worth more than $15 billion since 2008. After the Modi-Trump meeting of June 26, 2017 both countries have decided to work together on ‘advanced defence equipment and technology at a level commensurate with that of the closest allies and partners’.
Understandably, U.S has to revive its defence industrial complex and create job opportunities for its nationals. Then, in order to introduce new technological developments in war munitions, the older ones have to be disposed-off and India offered itself as the end user of these weapons and equipment. Earlier, Trump visit of Saudi Arabia could fetch for US over $400 billion which included $110 billion for military equipment only. Qatar is purchasing is F-15 US aircraft worth 12 billion and UAE worth $1 billion military hardware.
Whereas, these defence purchases would significantly sustain the falling US economy, the regional stability of these regions would be endangered to a greater level. The Middle Eastern region is already in turmoil and the new purchase would further destabilize it to the likes of its strategic planners. In South Asia, a region with two nuclear powers (India and Pakistan) and China in the immediate neighbourhood, the US strategic partnership with India may not augur well for the regional peace and stability. The Indo-US enhanced cooperation with major focus on defence and security related aspects may initiate a new beginning towards regional conflict.
In this regard, the US callousness towards the resolution of Kashmir dispute has indicated its preferences for India. Then, declaring Syed Salah-ud-Din, a native Kashmiri leader and freedom fighter, as a global terrorist is total US leaning towards India. This announcement is in fact, disrespect to International Law, UN Charter, UN resolutions on the issue and many international covenants on human rights. In this regard, characters of three recent US presidents (Clinton, Obama and Trump) are questionable. They all promised a US role for the resolution of this core dispute between Pakistan and India, but surrounded to Indian wishes.
Out of many aspects of Modi-Trump Joint statement, terrorism remained another point of focus. With a commitment to be and act, “Shoulder-to-Shoulder Against Terrorism”, there was a mention of Pakistan, both directly and indirectly. Whereas, as a rhetoric India has been accusing Pakistan of ‘cross-border terrorism’, the US leadership and particularly President Trump should have a sagacity, familiarity and needed audacity to speak truth, as who is doing terrorism against whom. Indian political leadership and military commander including NSA have been publically claiming destabilizing, bleeding and disintegrating Pakistan into parts through an organized network of terrorism.
Indeed, American President should not tell a lie and cheat the world after an open confession of terrorism inside Pakistan by Indian RAW, Jadhav being a very recent case in point. US should understand as to who is the beneficiary of Uri attack, Pathankot, Mumbai and earlier the attack on Indian parliament in 2001. Does, U.S has any justification of Indian state sponsored terrorism inside Pakistan, the massive human rights violations in IOK and negation of its own sponsored UN resolutions on Kashmir. United States must stop deceit and double standards in South Asia. The role of Pakistan against the terrorism is un-parallel, what India has done against global terrorism, except terrorising Pakistan and Kashmiris.
In fact, the new heights in Indo-US bilateral relationship with major focus on defence and security will pose a greater threat towards destabilization of South Asia in particular and Asia in general. Beijing and Islamabad are major focus of Indo-US strategic alliance; the former as a peer competitor and later as its supporter. Since US mainland is thousands of miles away from South Asian region, therefore, any conflict in this part of the world will have serious consequences towards regional and international peace and stability where India cannot remain unscathed. Therefore, India must shun its malevolent designs of destabilizing the region by massive purchases of US war munitions and threatening postures towards Pakistan and China. On its Pakistan must enhance its diplomatic clout in all major capitals to enlighten the international community about the consequences of Indo-US defence collaboration and emergence of possible conflicts in this region.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.

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