INDO-PAKISTAN: Reality behind Strategic Dialogue
By Sajjad Shaukat
Pak-US strategic dialogue was held on March 24 this year in Washington. During the strategic dialogue in 2008, both sides had discussed regional and international issues of common interest. The second round of the strategic dialogue between the US and Pakistan will be held in July 21. Washington and Islamabad have also agreed to co-operate in the fields of education, science, technology and energy.
Sources suggest that during the forthcoming Pak-US strategic dialogue, Pakistan would reiterate its demand for civil nuclear cooperation for power generation and greater access to the US markets or preferential trade agreement for Pakistan so as to stabilise its economy. It is also believed that the United States has agreed to enhance Pakistan’s defence capabilities, but in connection with war against terrorism, provided US military equipments will not be used against India.
However, coming meeting will be of utmost importance for both the US and its frontline ally in the war on terror. The importance of the Pak-US strategic dialogue could be judged from the fact that Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Ashfaque Kayani is the first army chief who will also be part of the delegation, attending the dialogue.
As regards the significance of the Pak-US strategic dialogue, on March 13, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the objective of strategic dialogue with the US is to enhance people-to-people strategic relationship which will bridge the trust deficit. Gilani elaborated that the dialogue would broadly cover economic, defence, security and social sectors. He further elaborated that his government’s objective is not only to upgrade the dialogue status, but also to develop a solid and enduring framework for long-term Pakistan-US relations.
The importance of ties between Islamabad and Washington could also be assessed from the statement of the US Deputy Assistant Secretary on Defence for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia David Samuel Sedney who said on June 10, “Pakistan and the United States have stepped forward, under the strategic dialogue, to overcome the ‘trust deficit’ between the two countries…we have discussion on military-to-military relationship and other areas”.
Sedney further pointed out that the defence officials of both countries would meet again in the mid-July and start of August, declaring the current interaction positive.
In this connection, as to how current Pak-US interaction will become positive as America has also been boasting India in various sectors rapidly at the cost of China and Pakistan. In this context, on June 3, Indo-US strategic dialogue took place in Washington. And India and the US vowed to strengthen their cooperation in key areas like defence, counter- terrorism, education, nuclear energy, agriculture and climate change.
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, while calling India a “rising global power”, disclosed, “US was committed to the modernisation of India’s military and that the US military holds the maximum number of joint exercises with the Indian Army.” Surprisingly, like Pakistan, the US high officials never imposed any condition on New Delhi that American military aid will not be used against its neighbour. Moreover, Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna indicated the secret diplomacy behind this dialogue. Without naming Pakistan, he said, “the threat of transnational terrorism requires both India and the US to cooperate more closely than ever before though the epicentre of this threat lies in India’s neighbourhood.”
Nevertheless, some political and defence analysts take Indo-US strategic dialogue in wake of Pak-US strategic dialogue as an ambivalent policy of Washington which indicates confused goals. But reality behind these dialogues is quite different.
The fact of the matter is that America which signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008, intends to make India a great power of Asia to contain China and destablise Pakistan as well as Iran. While Pakistan’s province, Balochistan where China has invested billion of dollars to develop Gwadar seaport which could link Central Asian trade with rest of the world, irritates both Washington and New Delhi. It has even shifted the central gravity of the Great Game to Pakistan.
On the other hand, China has signed a number of agreements with Pakistan to help the latter in diverse sectors.
It is notable that Indian former Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor vocally revealed on December 29, 2009 that Indian Army “is now revising its five-year-old doctrine” and is preparing for a “possible two-front war with China and Pakistan.” India which successfully tested missile, Agni-111 in May 2007, has been extending its range to target all the big cities of China. So Sino-Indian cold war is part of the prospective greater cold war between the US and China.
As Pakistan will be the arena of the next cold war, hence American strategic partners like India and Israel are creating instability by supporting separatist and hostile elements in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and other cities of our country. In this regard, besides suicide attacks and assaults on Pakistan’s security personnel, other incidents like kidnappings and killings of Iranians and Chinese engineers in the last three years might be cited as example.
It is mentionable that Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world. Therefore, India and Israel with the tactical support of America are creating instability in the country. In this regard, Indo-Israeli lobbies are working in the US and other western countries in order to malign Islamabad. With the help of particularly American media, these lobbies are propagating that the next terror-plan to attack the US homeland will be prepared in Pakistan. Notably, on May 29, 2010, while quoting the US officials, under the caption, “Options studied for a possible Pakistan strike”, The Washington Post disclosed: “The US military is reviewing options for a unilateral strike in Pakistan in the event that a successful attack on American soil is traced to the country’s tribal areas…ties between the alleged Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and elements of the Pakistani Taliban have sharpened the Obama administration’s need for retaliatory options.” The Post further explained: “The US options for potential retaliatory action rely mainly on air and missile strikes, but could also employ small teams of US Special Operations troops already positioned along the border with Afghanistan.”
Besides, the United States did not compensate Pakistan fully in terms of its promises and the losses which the latter bore during war on terror. Instead a blame game against Islamabad has started coupled with the maxim; “do more” against the militants. The result is trust deficit between Islamabad and Washington, which appears to be widened with the passage of time.
In fact, reality behind Pak-US strategic dialogue is that the US has been playing a double game with Pakistan, sometimes cajoling the latter with economic and military aid, while appreciating its military operations, sometimes blaming it for cross-border terrorism in respect of Afghanistan.
So Pak-US strategic dialogue is only an eyewash. It is confined to American war against terrorism. But Indo-US strategic dialogue is the real one as the same has broader strategic purposes.
Sajjad Shaukat is a regular contributor to www.opinion-maker.org He writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.