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Indo-US strategic partnership and implications for Pakistan

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Despite its geo-economic shift, Pakistan is at the epicenter of regional geopolitical earthquakes. Shifting sands of regional geopolitics pushes Pakistan at the central stage of new regional reality; new power arrangements in the region will create serious challenges for the country.

After disassociating itself from crisis-based relations with great powers and exploring the economic realm for engagement, Pakistan has embraced a new doctrinal shift that gives commerce, trade and regional connectivity prime importance. But changing regional geopolitics creates a stumbling block for Pakistan to realize its economic potential and keep its distance from bloc politics as it has strategically bruised the country for years, inflicting political and economic shock.

The troubled relationship between US and Pakistan

Pakistan’s tortured relations with the US seem to have reached the cusp of disengagement. Eroding world order, emerging great-powers challenges, unfolding ecological disaster, and advancing technological development has drastically changed the US foreign policy priority. Now Pakistan is no longer a strategic partner of the US in the region to counter China, while India is cozying up with the US and collaborating in defense that enables New Dehli to modernize its military. Certainly, it increases Pakistan’s defense burden, thereby risking the country’s geo-economic policy and making it a security state to build an impregnable defense against the adversary.

Keeping in view India’s conventional supremacy and its advancing arms development with the help of the US, Pakistan again creeps into the arms race that will consume much energy, obstructing its socio-economic progress. What policy Pakistan chalks out is influenced by regional geopolitical developments. India’s regional outreach compels Pakistan to formulate counter-policy approaches in order to neutralize the enemy’s aggressive behavior. Besides this, war crimes by Indian troops in Kashmir are another complication that never allows Pakistan to shift its focus on internal issues.

Given the Indo-US strategic partnership, Pakistan falls short to ensure full spectrum deterrence. The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) between the US and India is a new bilateral defence agreement that allows India to get access to the US’ most sophisticated military weapons and provides the Indian military with geospatial information, which is extremely accurate to launch missiles against the enemy country.

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Despite knowing the potential danger of India’s military advancement, the US is disdainfully feeding the very source of instability in the region. The more US arms India, the greater instability occurs in the region that endangers regional peace and stability. India’s military advancement is not only a threat for Pakistan, but for the whole region.

Does the US want a stable relationship with China?

The US wants a relationship with China but it awfully shatters the regional balance of power and spurs the arms race. By aligning with the US, India strives to cash in on the opportunity to be the regional hegemon. It increases the risk of confrontation.

Perhaps, the US strategically encircles China by creating a ring of the regional alliance, but arming aggressive countries like India with advanced military technology would be against the US’ own interest in the long run. Once India’s power grows to the level of great power, it becomes difficult for the US to tame it. And also, but for now, India is too big to be used by the US against China in the region. Just because India has territorial disputes or is strategically on a collision course with China does not mean it will fight the US war in the region. But India tries to build its own military by exploiting the US strategic needs of the time.

As India increases its military power, it becomes the sick man of Asia. It tries to have a finger in every strategic pie in the region. It is neither in the US interest, nor is it in the interest of any other country to disrupt the strategic balance of the region. Almost all countries in the region feel threatened by an emerging rogue regional master, which endeavors to establish its own regional order by lording over it.

The fallouts of the US partnership with India are visible

After estimating its place in US strategic calculus, India has illegally occupied the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir by discarding its special status. Notwithstanding human rights is the central plank of US foreign policy, India’s naked aggression in the Kashmir valley is shrugged off by the international community in general, and the US in particular. Similarly, Pulwama/Balakot crisis is another illustration of India’s encouragement by the US partnership to use aggression.

With the view to bring Pakistan to strategic terms in Kashmir, India will apply all possible tactics and seize every opportunity which emerges from shifting global power dynamics. India operates with impunity from global multilateral forums and powerful countries because the US needs India in this critical juncture to manage great powers, so it serves India’s strategic exigency to mount its aggression against Pakistan and make Kashmir occupation a fait accompli.

Of all security threats, Indo-US strategic bonhomie is the gravest security challenge for Pakistan. It threatens Pakistan’s territorial integrity and national cohesion. India will try exploit all internal faultlines to demoralize the nation. Therefore, Pakistan needs to discuss its concerns with the US through diplomatic channels. Perhaps if Pakistan does not serve the US strategic interests against China, exploring others avenues for engagement will reduce trust deficits between both countries.