R. C. Ganjoo
It was a bold and clear message from the US and India statement that has thrown an open challenge to counter global terrorism and unequivocally condemn terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations. The statement has unnerved Pakistan as well as China.
A South Asia expert at the Hudson Institute describes US-India relations as a boon for President Biden to declare to the world that the US has India as an ally on his side. The US considers China the most serious long-term challenger to the United States, despite renewed efforts to manage tensions.
The joint statement by the US and India has also insisted Pakistan take immediate action “against all terrorist groups”, leaving the option of asking the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to further tighten its anti-money-laundering and terrorism financing standards.
Both India and Pakistan are relevant to the US for different reasons. India is on the geopolitical centre stage. Its strategic value for the West is increasing. Thus, after the US-India joint declaration, US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome moved his pawn diplomatically on June 23, keeping Pakistan under US wings and saying, “Our people-to-people ties have taken forward the US-Pakistan relationship for 75 years. Perhaps the most meaningful result of our diplomatic engagement is the network of personal and professional connections made by tens of thousands of Pakistanis who have gone to the US on US-funded academic programmes and exchanges and those Americans who come to study in Pakistan”.
The US’ top priority for Pakistan is to eliminate terrorism, counter emerging terrorist threats, and address the causes of instability. The US has supported 1,20,00 Pakistani police officers’ training programmes and encouraged female officers’ recruitment and professional development. Not only have more than 2,000 Pakistani officers gone on US-funded military education and training programmes, but Pakistan is among the top two countries in the world for participation in US military exchanges. In an interview with the Washington Post, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said “Pakistan can no longer try to maintain a middle ground between China and the United States”. US-Pakistan relations have served vital interests for over six decades, but it has not been a ‘normal’ bilateral relationship. In Pakistan, the US connection strengthened the army and enhanced its political profile. Washington was not happy with Pakistan’s relations with China, the 1965 war, its nuclear programme, or Pakistan’s contribution to the failure of the Afghanistan war.
It is widely believed by political observers that incidents of instability in Pakistan are Washington’s hidden ‘agenda’ to destabilise Pakistan so as to take out its nuclear assets. Washington wants to punish Pakistan for being an ally of China. In 2002, Richard Armitage, then-deputy secretary of state, admitted that Pakistan was never important to the United States in its own right. It was important because of third parties. The implication was that Pakistan had no permanent value for the US, and its importance for Washington derived from the importance of South Asia more broadly.
In the given economic and political situation, Pakistan is left with no option but to seek US support for an IMF loan. The US is taking advantage of Pakistan’s precarious financial situation by pressuring Islamabad to keep its distance from Beijing. The IMF has recently raised serious objections over the budget for the fiscal year 2023–24, which has further narrowed the chances of the revival of the Extended Fund Facility programme. Donald Blome expressed confidence in the policies and programmes of the Pakistan government for economic sustainability and socio-economic uplift of the masses. He extended his support to further promote bilateral economic, investment, and trade relations between both countries.
Pakistan is the only regional country that has not thrown its weight behind any single global power. Islamabad seems to be seeking good ties with Moscow and Washington. It does not want to harm American interests, but at the same time, it will not go against Beijing. (IANS)