Pakistan is fully aware that the strategic ties between the largest democracy by population that is India and the largest democracy by geographical size that is USA are on the rise and are likely to have implications for Pakistan’s strategic interests. USA is now trying its level best to make New Delhi its global-strategic major defence partner and equating India’s strategic objectives in Asia with its own.
India’s huge middle class market for US goods and investment and the US’s policy of containing China in the Asia-Pacific are two foundations on which the US is trying to forge its strategic alliance with India . On the other hand India knows that it can buy latest technologies and military hardware from the USA and at the same time export its goods and Services to the USA on a very competitive basis.
The bilateral trade of goods and services between India and the US stood at an estimated Rs 747500 crores in 2016 – with exports to India from the US amounting to Rs 273000crores and imports from India to the US reaching Rs 473200 crores. The two countries have fixed the goal of enhancing the bilateral trade by five times in the next few years. The US, in particular, supplies India high-tech military equipment and has so far sold weapons worth Rs 130000 crores to it.
The containment of China, especially in the South China Sea, is the other major basis for growing US partnership with India. The growing importance of Asia for the strategic goals of the US is manifest in the deployment of nearly 60 percent of the US’s naval assets in the Pacific. In order to achieve its objectives in relation to the burgeoning power of China, the US plans to integrate the military assets of its allies in the region for a collaborative defence. The US naval strategy is based on a global network of allies, which includes Japan, South Korea, and Australia. The USA now wants to include India also in this alliance. Though India may cooperate for peace time missions , it will refuse to become part of any military alliance and that too never as a junior partner .Any alliance will have to be strictly be based on equality and reciprocal basis.
The India-US defence ties are going to be legally covered by three basic agreements, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA). India and US has already signed the LEMOA. Talks are under way between the two countries for an agreement on the CISMOA, which allows for interoperability between allies during operations or a war. Though it is unlikely to be signed in the present form and requires suitable modifications. A treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation (FCN) has already existed between the two countries since the late 1950s.
Under the LEMOA, US fighter aircrafts and warships can now use Indian military bases to refuel and avail of their required supplies. Meanwhile, India can use the US bases in Diego Garcia and others located between Tanzania and Australia and in Philippines etc.
With the availability of this facility, India will now be able to project its power in the entire Asia and towards Africa . On the other hand, the US Navy can now use bases of Indian Navy and air force in the Nicobar and Andaman islands. America already has bases in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. With the access to Andaman military bases, it has further extended its power closer to China.
The depth of the Indo-US alliance can also be gauged from the NO REACTION shown towards India by the US while it tested long-range ballistic missiles. In December 2016, India tested Agni-V, its intercontinental ballistic missile. The missile is said to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons. In January 2017, it fired the Agni-VI, with a range of between 5,500 and 8000 kilometres and may be beyond to 12000 km. With these long-range missiles, India can now target all of Chinese and any where else.
Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that with the ICBMs capable of delivering nuclear warheads and a new 17 Mountain Strike Corps with “quick reaction ground offensive capabilities” in the making, the Indian Army has elevated its posture against China from “dissuasion” to “credible deterrence”.
In 2008, with the signing of a bilateral civilian nuclear deal with India , the US de facto gave recognition to India as a nuclear-weapons state. This means that the US unilaterally scrapped the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which has been the core of the international nuclear regulatory framework since it was launched in 1968.
This deal has enabled India to import civilian nuclear technology, hardware and fuel from the US for the production of energy as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) have waived objections on such trade. As a result, India has allocated its own nuclear resources on the development of nuclear weapons.
In mid-2016, Washington strongly supported India’s request to gain the NSG membership. A complete and effective implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was the basis of the NSG membership while India is not even a signatory to the 48-member treaty. The US wants India to be exempted from these conditions. While a number of NSG members opposed the US move but most fell in line , the most intense opposition came from China which is still holding out. However as things are moving , with the first prototype PFBR of India getting operational very soon , it will be the NSG which will be begging India to join it.
Keeping in view the breadth and depth of the Indo-US strategic alliance, its trajectory of containing China and the massive Chinese investment in Pakistan, it is clear that Pakistan should forget the possibility of any major favour from Washington where military equipment are concerned. Pakistan should also not expect vehement diplomatic support from Washington on the Kashmir dispute. Since the Kabul government is closely allied with Delhi and Washington, Pakistan will have to contend with a not-so-friendly Afghanistan as well.