Obama’s Visit Raises Concerns in Pakistan

There are concerns in Pakistan on US discriminatory policies in South Asia.U.S. President Barack Obama visited India from 25 to 27 January 2015.It was second time that he visited India without visiting Pakistan. His visit was not a symbolic one it was a comprehensive visit in which a series of bilateral agreements were concluded with India. Both sides pledged closer cooperation on defense, economic and civilian nuclear issues, and US repeatedly endorsed India’s bid for a permanent United Nations Security Council seat.

Pakistan has expressed its concerns on the increasing Strategic Cooperation between India and USA. Pakistan has a relationship with the U.S. for decades and it is considered unfair on the part of Obama that in spite of great tragedy of Peshawar school he had not visited Pakistan to show solidarity with Pakistan. There is no doubt that Pakistan has always accorded a great value to its relations with the United States expecting that it  would  play a constructive role for strategic stability and balance in South Asia. The way Obama showed extraordinary diplomatic outreach towards India, Pakistan has officially condemned the United States for its “selectivity and discrimination”.  Obama’s heavily strategic embrace of India would make Indian ambitious Prime Minister Mr.Modi more arrogant towards Pakistan that may result in distracting its armed forces attention from counter terrorism military operation in FATA.

Prior to President Obama’s visit to India, US Secretary of State John Kerry visited India and Pakistan. During his visit to Pakistan from 12-13 January 2015, Kerry held meetings with members of the political and military leadership. His visit to Pakistan was considered as a positive development for Pakistan-US relation. In the backdrop of his visit, Pakistan has been taking some critical steps in countering extremism in Pakistan. In order to sustain these efforts, there were high hopes in Pakistan that President Obama during his visit to India would not undermine Pakistan’s interest.

Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister told reporters that during Kerry’s visit to Pakistan, he was apprised of Pakistan’s reservations on various issues including Indian aggression along the LoC. Pakistan was expecting that President Barrack Obama’s visit to India would help reduce tension in South Asia. Pakistan was disappointed with the USA for not raising the issue of unprovoked firing by Indian forces along the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary. Many experts expected that Obama would impel India to resume the stalled peace process with Pakistan but that did not happen.

And Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser, in a statement on 23, 2015 January has clarified that United States’ relations with Pakistan and India are not at expense of the other. He said it is better for the region that Washington maintains close ties with both Islamabad and New Delhi.  There is no doubt that US is not interested in spoiling its relations with Pakistan due to its strategic value for regional stability and in view of its role in countering extremism and terrorism. But on the other hand in order to contain China, USA is giving primacy to its relations with India. Both the countries looked their relationship through the prism of the strategic changes in the larger Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region. This premise would definitely marginalize Pakistan.

The other issue that bothered Pakistan includes increasing US defence and nuclear cooperation with India. Indo-US nuclear deal remained held up for six years amid concerns over the liability for any nuclear accident. This deal has been reactivated with Obama using his executive powers to roll back the condition that U.S. authorities be allowed to monitor use of nuclear material purchased by India even from third countries and the U.S. agreeing to India’s proposal to build a risk-management insurance pool of Rs 1,500 crore (approximately $24 million) to provide cover to suppliers who shunned the civil nuclear agreement because it made them liable to pay compensation in the event of a nuclear accident, a great leap forward has been made.

Pakistan has made huge sacrifices in countering extremism and terrorism where as India just gave a lip service as for as countering of terrorism is concerned. But over the past three years, the US has supplied India with weapons worth 326 billion rupees ($5.4 billion), for the first time surpassing Russia, which supplied 253 billion rupees ($4.2 billion) in military products. During Obama’s visit to India, bilateral defense cooperation has further been  energized with the two states agreeing to extend the Defense Cooperation Agreement and identifying four projects under the Defense Technology Trade Initiative (DTTI) for joint production and development as well as exploring cooperation for jet engines and aircraft carrier systems..This initiative is designed to increase co-production, co-development and partnership in U.S.-India military-industrial matters.

US supports for India’s Membership for UNSC and NSG, would heavily damage Pakistan’s strategic interests since it would establish India’s strategic primacy in South Asia with clear dominance over Pakistan in the strategic realm. US enhancing multidimensional strategic cooperation with India has implications for Pakistan’s security, as already strong India, with increasing defence support from USA and Russia, would make it further strong. This situation will create large conventional and strategic imbalance in Pakistan-India relations. US leadership should keep this in mind that Indian membership of UNSC and NSG, without resolving Kashmir issue and without giving membership to Pakistan in NSG simultaneously along with   India,   would be detrimental for Pakistan’s security interests.

Pakistan observer, January 31, 2015

Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the writer and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy.

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