Thursday, February 2, 2017

Pakistan - India - Anchor of stability: the flawed perception

By Aqib Shaukat Paracha

The American defence initiative has pulled the South Asian region into a vulnerable environment; directly forcing Pakistan to build countermeasures — either by arms buildup or by diplomatic engagements.
This August will mark 70 years of the Indian subcontinent’s independence. The two south Asian nuclear states are, however, still figuring out the real matters of contention. With the time passing by, the foreign policies of both states are taking new dynamics. These dynamics are, thus, resulting in a multiplication and further exacerbation of the existing relations between Pakistan and India. A sizeable shift in India’s foreign policy has come with the PM Modi’s establishment. Today, India and the US are more affectionate towards each other than ever before. On the other side is the China-Pakistan economic partnership, which, besides the Indo-US partnership, is referred to as a variable in the stability paradox in South Asia. The China-Pakistan partnership neither entails any major conventional buildup nor has it promised to strategically compete for any state in the neighborhood or around. It remains obvious that by no mean Pakistan’s impression is questionable.
The strategic stability phenomenon in South Asia primarily banks upon the strategic landscape between Pakistan and India. Presently, both of these states are on the lowest grounds of their bilateral relations. The reason besides other destabilising variables is India’s destructive engagements with the US. Another igniting factor in the worsening of the bilateral relations is the strengthening of the defence relations between India and the US. A recent agreement signed between the US Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, and the Indian Defense Minister, Manohar Parrikar, has titled India as a “major defence partner” of the US. This accord will primarily boost their bilateral defence trade and will promote the co-production and co-development of defence-related equipment. Indian defence expenditure that experiences a major upward shift every year will definitely hit an evident hike after this agreement. The major defence partner status, along with other perks and privileges, will constrain India to be more vigilant about the transformation in Indo-Pacific, which they both refer to as Mutual Interest.
The Indo-US strategic partnership had seen unnatural advancement in the Obama administration. In the same years, Pakistan accomplished unusual successes in the war against terrorism. These successes paved the way for Pakistan to engage for the promotion of reliable regional setting. Also, Pakistan engaged in an unusual economic cooperative agreement i.e. the CPEC. Continually Pakistani authorities have made it clear that CPEC has no other gains other than forwarding its economic master plan. Pakistan has done sizeable work for the promotion of regional stability. But on the other hand, Indian conventional buildup and its tone of siding Pakistan have complicated the regional setting. In reciprocation to this Indian attitude, Pakistan has to consider balancing of conventional capabilities to ensure deterrence stability. During the US and Indian growing diplomatic relations; Pakistan faced a serious lack of trust in its relations with the US. Also, this Indian partnership is often quoted by many defence analysts as the manoeuvre to limit China’s regional and global expanding impression.
The US-India strategic partnership, which aims to boost both India’s nuclear and conventional capabilities, is seriously disconcerting for the South Asian environment. The recent defence accord between India and United States that paves the way for joint defence exercises marks a question mark on regional stability. It proves the Pakistani stance that American partnership with India causes distress among regional states of South Asia. To counter this strategic imbalance Pakistan maintains a legitimate deterrent capability that is necessary for the survival of this state. This day-by-day growing relation is also narrowing the future probability of favourable relations between Pakistan and United States. Certainly, Pakistan now has to bridge this gap between her relations with the US in order to balance the strategic output of Indo-US partnership. Further on, India’s acknowledgement of Cold Start Doctrine validity leaves no option for Pakistan other than improving its short-range missile capabilities that it considers more validated to respond to India’s military doctrine. The underlying facts behind India’s emerging detrimental capabilities are its diplomatic and defence ties with the United States. India portrays itself a reliable partner to the US for countering China Policy. The American defence initiative has pulled the South Asian region into a vulnerable environment; directly forcing Pakistan to build countermeasures — either by arms buildup or by diplomatic engagements.
India, which is referred by the US as an anchor of stability, must, therefore, realize its responsibility for promoting a conducive atmosphere for regional stability. That’s what India is shy off. Also, the prevailing regional situation nullifies the Indian efforts of being an anchor of stability. Pakistan being the other regional nuclear state is the only country in South Asia that has the ability to turn down the Indian hegemonic attitude. Pakistan has always opted ways to maintain stability but it’s always the other side to force Pakistan for preparing counterforce measures. Pakistan has also crushed the terrorist infrastructure and ratifies that no cross-border terrorism can take place from Pakistani territory. Correspondingly, Pakistan expects India to maintain desirable strategic equilibrium and stability that will in long run be beneficial for both states. As Pakistan consider Indian strategic engagements as a threat to its security, so this constrains Pakistan to opt for durable alternatives to meet the security challenges that are posed by the expanding India’s military and nuclear capabilities. Pakistan’s aspirations for the healthier strategic environment not in any way shall be taken as a compromise on Pakistan’s deterrent capabilities. Pakistani authorities have made it clear many times that maintaining nuclear deterrence is critical for Pakistan’s security.

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