Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
In the space of a decade, the United States and India have travelled far in a relationship clouded by the Cold War when they were on opposite sides.
From U.S sanctions on India for its nuclear tests in 1998 to a civilian nuclear energy deal that opens access to international nuclear technology and finance, while allowing New Delhi to retain its nuclear weapons programme is a stunning reversal of policy and one that decisively transforms ties.
America has also ‘soberly’ after decades of differing over counter-terrorism priorities become a vocal
supporter of India’s concerns over the use of Pakistani territory for Islamist militant groups, says the Asia
Society in a report laying out a blueprint for an expanded India-U.S. relationship ahead of
President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday.
Indian and U.S. interests have converged and “never in history have they been so closely aligned,” the report by an Asia Society Task Force says, arguing for a still deeper security and economic engagement between the two large democracies.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be in New Delhi this weekend to celebrate a hard-fought nuclear deal that to its critics strikes at the heart of the global non-proliferation regime by allowing India access to nuclear technology despite its refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) and give up a weapons programme.
China and Pakistan are not amused although both stepped aside as they watched an unstoppable Bush administration push the deal through the International Atomic Energy Agency and then the Nuclear Suppliers Group in one of its few foreign policy successes.
The irony is hard to miss. Just as Pakistan is struggling with the fallout of the first known breach of its territorial sovereignty by U.S. ground troops and all the odium associated with it in a proud nation, India has been welcomed into the nuclear high table, almost entirely at America’s behest.
Two unrelated events but coming days apart seemed to underline the divergent paths the two nations are embarked upon. One has a gun pointed to it; the other is being wooed.
It’s early days yet, but people are already trying to work out what any Israeli attack on Iran would mean for Pakistan. (The idea that Israel might attack Iran to damage or destroy its nuclear programme gained currency this week when former U.S. ambassador John Bolton predicted in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that it would do so after the November U.S. presidential election but before the next president is sworn in.)
Pakistan defence analyst Ikram Sehgal paints an alarming, and perhaps deliberately alarmist, picture in The News of what this could mean for Pakistan: ”Could Israeli or (US) planners afford the risk of leaving a Muslim nuclear state with the means of missile delivery intact if there is war with Iran? Can they take this calculated risk in the face of a possible Pakistani nuclear reaction because of military action on a fellow Muslim nation and neighbour…?” he writes. ”Should one not be apprehensive that India as the ‘newly U.S. appointed policeman of the region’ takes the opportunity … for launching all-out Indian military offensive….?”