US-Pakistan bonhomie leaves India at a loss

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's wife Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif (right) and daughter Mariam Safdar with U.S.First Lady Michelle Obama (left) at an event in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington.  

India on Friday took exception to the American appreciation for Pakistan’s anti-terror operations and the American pledge to provide eight F-16 aircraft to the Pakistan Air Force.

At a weekly press conference, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup, said: “Our reservations about providing such platforms [F-16] to Pakistan are well known and all countries are aware of India’s position in such cases.” He said supply of such strategic platforms to Pakistan could not help South Asia, especially in view of reports that Pakistan had acquired tactical and miniaturised battlefield nuclear weapons.

The joint statement issued at the end of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington DC has been criticised in Indian policy circles as it entrusts Pakistan with maintaining “strategic stability” in South Asia. Experts have argued that the American decision-makers have misread Pakistani commitment to strategic stability in South Asia, especially since gifting the F-16 jets will further embolden Pakistan’s reckless nuclear establishment. “Pakistan is already the largest owner of nuclear weapons in South Asia. It is a known beneficiary of a clandestine nuclear programme. How can strategic stability in South Asia be maintained by gifting fighter jets to a country which has violated all norms of regional peace and stability,” asked Ajay Lele of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).

That apart, India has also expressed reservations about the support President Barack Obama has extended to securing finances for the Diamer-Bhasha and Dasu dams in Gilgit Baltistan which India believes cannot be built because of it is in an area under “illegal occupation of Pakistan.” The joint statement repeatedly referred to Pakistan’s need to deal with issues arising out of water and energy issues and both sides have also joined hands for researching on water to help Pakistan.

The joint statement was dissected critically by India which finds the Obama-Sharif call for dialogue on Kashmir an irritant. That apart, India has been surprised by the description of “terrorism as of mutual concern” between India and Pakistan.

“The Pakistan Prime Minister has agreed to act on the Haqqani Network, which is in keeping with the promise made by the United States in the joint statement of January 25, 2015 in New Delhi,” the spokesperson said, hinting at the fact that the Obama-Sharif joint statement makes a contradictory point by conceding Pakistani role in promoting terrorism. Mr. Sharif who promised to act on the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) reaffirmed in the US that “Pakistan’s territory will not be used against any other country.”

India, however, maintains that the fighter aircraft promised to Pakistan will not immediately be handed over to the Pakistan Air Force and the U.S. Congress will examine the proposal carefully.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 10:15:25 AM |

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