Point, Counter-Point: Growing U.S. Role in Indo-Pak Relations

Point, Counter-Point: A Four Part Series

Between the Boots and the BJP, Waning US Influence in South Asia? by Amina Afzal

The Future Role for Washington by Tridivesh Singh Maini

Growing U.S. Role in Indo-Pak Relations by Muhammad Jawad Hashmi

India-Pakistan Relations on a One to One Basis by Reshmi Kazi

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Indo-Pak relations have seen variety of ups and downs since the early days of their inception. This play of hide and seek in relations has resulted into uncounted loss of lives and economic collapse.  Each time peace talks are followed by incidents fueling anger and ultimately calling it off. The present time is a high time in the region in a sense that both capitals are crowned with new leaderships. PM Nawaz Sharif’s visit on PM Narendra Modi’s invitation set a huge milestone in the mutual relationship and gave a clear message to Indian policy pundits of what new government in Islamabad is really up to.

The cancellation of Foreign Secretaries meeting, based on a meeting held between All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and Pakistani High Commissioner to India, however, has put a hold on peace talks. One may ask the BJP Leadership why such meetings have never been cancelled or discouraged in the past? India has never reacted in such a fashion to meetings of Pakistani-Kashmiri delegations ever before. Let me be bold to say that it has crafted a very rigid, and even rude, image of the BJP’s new government in place. Similarly, it has not only aggravated concerns for the common people on both side but also intensified the worries of international community.

In light of the regional geopolitical environment, the pause in the peace talks in South Asia is alarming for all stakeholders. U.S. condemnation is natural as she views both parties as valuable allies. US not only pronounced the stalemate as unfortunate but also encouraged both parties to resume the talks. Additionally, political and strategic stability in South Asia – and particularly in Pakistan – may be in the best interest of the U.S. during the exit from Afghanistan.

As witnessed over time, cross-border firing along the Line of Control (LoC) has been a regular occurrence. Last month it happened in the same way – it is not a new adventure to sabotage such high-level talks. Both parties blame each other for initiating cross border firing but no one is ready to feel guilty. In the meanwhile this blame game is not lowering the threshold but heightening the unrest on both sides. The worrisome aspect is the statement of Amit Shah the BJP president, who calls on a “befitting reply” to Pakistan as a reaction to stop cross-border firing. One may advise Mr. Amit Shah that such a response to the neighbors might not let you acquire the objective of ceasefire.

In my view, current Indian Foreign Policy is marked by aggressive statements and allegations. Moreover, India sees herself as the regional hegemon cum major power in the near future – for which military buildup and obvious support by major powers would be keys for India. The Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal, while putting aside international norms and violating at least the spirit of the NPT, is a manifestation of the U.S. seriousness to remain in the regional business. The Indian wish to acquire UN permanent seat, membership in Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), enhance her nuclear business with Central Asian States and Japan while holding the Chinese card in hand might be considered as the biggest reason for U.S. involvement and soft corner for India to achieve her regional hegemonic aspirations in future. Similarly, it might be related to PM Modi’s upcoming visit to the United States that the U.S. did not boldly condemn Indian allegations and dogged attitude towards peace talks.

For Pakistan, peace and stability in South Asia are linked with the neutrality of the United States. The trends show that U.S. role and influence in domestic and regional affairs of Pakistan is likely to grow in future. For instance, in the recent political crisis the U.S. urged all the stakeholders to peacefully resolve the difference. The U.S. also wishes that Indo-Pak bilateral relations should be returned to normalcy at the earliest and the doors of diplomatic interaction must remain open. It sounds obvious that sustained U.S.-Pakistan relations and stability in Pakistan are essential at this time. Also, it might be considered as a primary step to achieve the short-term (Afghan exit and war against Al-Qaeda) and long-term (Regional) interests keeping the geopolitical importance of Pakistan in focus.

As matters stand today, the U.S. role in the regional affairs has increased with the passage of time and it is likely to increase in future. There are multiple reasons to claiming so: Indo-Pak talks need a trusted mediator right away to bring them to table for negotiations. Secondly, the apparent presence of ISIS literature and possibilities of likeminded terrorist organizations to team up will be alarming for U.S. policy makers. Thirdly, establishment of Al Qaeda’s Indian wing would drag the U.S. into the regional counter terrorism policies in one or other way. Fourthly, U.S. support for India to serve as a regional balance or counter to China would sustain, or even increase U.S. involvement in the region.

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Image 1: U.S. Department of State, Flickr

Image 2: U.S. Department of State, Flickr

Posted in , India, India-Pakistan Relations, Pakistan, Point Counter-Point, US

Muhammad Jawad Hashmi

Muhammad Jawad Hashmi

Muhammad Jawad Hashmi is lecturer at the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Gujrat, Pakistan. He is currently working as visiting faculty at James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, MIIS California, Fall 2014. He was also visiting fellow at James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, MIIS California during Fall 2013. He has M.Sc. and M.Phil degree from the department of Defence and Strategic Studies, QAU Islamabad, Pakistan. His concentration includes Arms Control, Disarmament, Nonproliferation, Nuclear Terrorism, Nuclear Safety, Security and Strategy.

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9 thoughts on “Point, Counter-Point: Growing U.S. Role in Indo-Pak Relations

  1. Dear Jawad Hashmi, its good piece to the thoughts of for all those who are interested in SA.But in my view u r missing some ground realities. keeping in view the critical political turmoil in Pakistan and LOC ‘s situation at the time when almost 70% of Pak is under sever flood, strategic as well political activities are at halt as primary focus of govt is on flood and dealing up with internal political instability and bringing opposition parties on their part. on the other hand situation in India is quite different .focusing on national interests,new naval chief is bluntly warn Pakistan to refrain from any military engagement and drafting up nuclear deal with Australia. dialogue between both the states is dire need of the time, BJP’s govt previously has achieve some remarkable milestones which led to thaw in relationship between two belligerent sates , Lahore declaration and Agra summit but this time level of commitment in BJP’s leadership is at its lowest point. resuming dialogue and working on CBMs needs reciprocity of seriousness and commitment level from both parties which can be assured by trusted third party possibly long standing friend US.

  2. Do you see a greater Chinese role in South Asia and how it may or may not influence the role being played by the US? Critics have suggested that the BJP government seeks to build stronger economic ties with China and that India would rather copy China than contain it.

  3. There will be a conflict after US drawdown because India will involve in Afghanistan’s affairs for his national interest and expand his hegemony in the region with US support. On the other hand this will be compulsory for Pakistan to support anti-Indian elements to block his hegemony because Pakistan cannot afford pressure from both of his borders. This situation can be avoided if India lemmatized his interest in Afghanistan. This is not right to say that Afghanistan is strategically very important for India. India should develop his relations with Afghanistan but first there must be enough confidence between India and Pakistan for long term healthy relations. If it is not done then there will be more devastating situation for both the countries because Pakistan has no other choice but to stop India. And defiantly china will support Pakistan because Pakistan and china have the same interest to stop India. On the other hand US motivate India for regional hegemony. So such kind of acts leads only toward conflicts. And if some suggest that there will be prosperity with the existing situation, he must read the history.

  4. @Shehzada Afzal: The internal challenges including natural calamities and non-traditional security threats are same for states all over. So, these internal matters are not a reason to halt negotiations at the moment. Pakistan is a step ahead because of the fact that Pakistan is fighting on two fronts:
    • Internal: Against the biggest political crisis and biggest floods in the history of Pakistan
    • External: Resumption of Peace talks with India
    I buy your view on third party role to defuse the tension as that is my core argument in the articles.

  5. @ Amina Afzal: Your question sounds pretty interesting as Chinese role in the South Asia, particularly in any high intensity situation would be mandatory. The triangular strategic environment in region will drag china into play, whether one like it or not. It seems that Chinese economic cooperation in region is likely to grow in future. It will be a huge milestone if Sino-India economic cooperation would reach up to level where they may become friends from foes. It might be relevant to quote here that India and Pakistan gave MFN status to each other, but it could not help them get friendly relations so far. On the other hand, the role of US in such a scenario may increase/decrease depending upon the situation, but it cannot be simply ruled out that any situation involving china will witness US absence in the regional affairs.

  6. @ Usman: The absence of a major power will certainly create a vacuum and the regional stakeholders may rush to fill in as per their interest. I believe Pakistan does not need to support any anti-Indian elements in the presence of nuclear weapons in the region. Rather, Pakistan should focus to keep the strategic stability and deterrence stability intact.

  7. The misuse of the word “hegemony” in many of the columns on this website reflects a slant in thinking and mindset not conducive to Peace. A country like India which maintains friendly relations with all, does not interfere in other country affairs, and does not covet what others possess, cannot fit the description.
    India does not want to copy anybody, follow anybody, conquer any country or influence anybody. It does not want to poke its nose in others affairs nor will it allow others to dictate what it does or who its friends should be. It has never acted as a broker and will not permit others to play a similar role in its affairs. India believes it has the intellectual capital and human resources to challenge global leaders in every field. The top most priority for India is the welfare of its citizens and all its actions will be guided by it.
    For a country like India which has suffered from conquests and colonization, adequate resources will be spent on Military capability and preparedness, not to threaten others but to ensure that the gains that will be harnessed will remain enduring. India wants nothing from Pakistan except that it should mind its own business, it does not have spare territory to donate. Live in Peace and prosper is the message. Keep your assets, non State actors and terrorists on your side of the border — any sponsored attack however convoluted the manner in which it is routed or to whoever it is outsourced will invite retaliation, irrespective of any consequences. India has gone beyond living in fear to another level, not just Pakistan but the world must take notice that India will not be subject to threats or blackmail. Every country will be judged by its actions, not the sweetness of its words. Animosity to none, goodwill for all must remain the guiding spirit.

  8. Great Mr Jawad, Its a well balance attitude and opinion. Best wishes
    And i would further add and say, that since last decade Indian outwards policy have focused on western market and towards becoming a great Power. Despite a regional giant, India has ignored South Asia, in its foreign policy and continuously pursuing a much greater role in the world. US always have played a sideline role as per their national interest, And is never ready to bridge the Gap between Pakistan and India. Apparently have become a strong ally of India, in terms of security, and economy. At the same time, while China, being a strong ally of Pakistan, has always behaved to support Pakistan and all other South Asian countries, in fact to pressurize and keep down, the Indian behavior, towards China. Pakistan, an important country in South and among the world populous countries is entangled with the crisis of Energy, and internal power politics (choudhrahat). And in fact facing the severe crisis of Bad governance, illiteracy, unemployment, lack of vision in the policies, and Off course the violence, that is bleeding the nation. Apart from the talibanization that is posing a serious threat to internal security, the country is engulfing in the ethnic violence, and the outcomes are conceivable in Karachi, and in Baluchistan. While some people would be happy, that at least Lahore is safe, but that is not the whole Pakistan. In such a situation, no great Power would be ready, to broke a peace among Pakistan and India, when both the parties are not interested in stability. SAARC as a regional forum have not succeeded and will never succeed due to the conflicting views and attidutes of Pakistan and India, and due to the lack of interest of the majors powers in the regionalization of South Asia. One solution of the Problems in south Asia, rest in the strengthening of Regional integration in south Asia, as Jawad hashmi, have mentioned at one place, that only by giving the MFN status, nothing have been achieved. Both the countries will have to compromise and will have to go along way to achieve the peace. The future of South Asia, is definitely depend on the relation between Pakistan and India.

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