In­dia as a swing power state

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENT - Dr Muham­mad Khan Email: drmk_edu@ya­

THE Indo-US strate­gic part ner­ship is inched closer in April 2016 dur­ing the visit of US De­fense Sec­re­tary, Ash­ton Carter to New Delhi. This visit paved the way for fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the Lo­gis­tics Ex­change Mem­o­ran­dum of Agree­ment (LEMOA). This de­fence agree­ment will en­able the fighter air­crafts, war­ships and per­son­nel of both coun­tries pro­vi­sion of lo­gis­tic on each other’s mil­i­tary bases. US has been pur­su­ing this agree­ment for the past one and half decade. Ear­lier, In­dia was re­luc­tant to sign this mil­i­tary Lo­gis­tic Sup­port Agree­ment (LSA) on the po­lit­i­cal pres­sure of some po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

The ne­go­ti­a­tions on the pact were kept se­cret, un­til April 12, 2016, once US De­fence Sec­re­tary Ash­ton Carter and his In­dian coun­ter­part an­nounced that, both coun­tries have agreed “in prin­ci­ple” to con­clude the agree­ment (LEMOA) soon. The agree­ment is ex­pected to be signed soon, will give ac­cess mil­i­taries of both coun­tries for fix and re­sup­plies. In or­der to avoid the back­lash, the In­dian De­fence Min­is­ter said that, US troops will not be al­lowed to be sta­tioned in In­dian mil­i­tary bases.

How­ever, in the meet­ing be­tween US De­fence Sec­re­tary and In­dian Prime Min­is­ter, Narindra Modi, it was de­cided to take con­crete steps for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of “US-In­dia Joint Strate­gic Vi­sion for Asia-pa­cific and In­dian Ocean Re­gion.” In­dia and US signed this agree­ment in Jan­uary 2015 on the eve of Pres­i­dent Obama’s visit of In­dia as a Chief Guest for 66th Repub­li­can Day. Ap­par­ently, the agree­ment has three salient fea­tures; an in­creas­ing re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity, free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion and col­lec­tive se­cu­rity. At this oc­ca­sion, both lead­ers shown their con­cern over the is­sues of Asi­aPa­cific and par­tic­u­larly the South China Sea, where China is still main­tain­ing its strong hold.

It is worth men­tion­ing that, the for­mer US Sec­re­tary of State, Hil­lary Clin­ton has pro­posed and in­deed em­pha­sised a ma­jor In­dian role in the emerg­ing se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture of Asia-Pa­cific. On July 20, 2011, Hil­lary said in Chen­nai (In­dia) that, “In­dia’s lead­er­ship has the po­ten­tial to pos­i­tively shape the fu­ture of the Asia-Pa­cific… and we en­cour­age you not just to look east, but con­tinue to en­gage and act east as well. This is not a time when any of us can af­ford to look in­ward at the ex­pense of look­ing out­ward. This is a time to seize the emerg­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties of the 21st cen­tury. This is a time to lead.”

The state­ment not only in­cites In­dia for a big­ger global role, but also paved the way for an ul­ti­mate sign­ing of Joint Strate­gic Vi­sion for Asia-Pa­cific and In­dian Ocean Re­gion. The essence of this agree­ment is to con­tain­ing grow­ing Chi­nese role in the Asia-pa­cific and par­tic­u­larly in South China Sea. China re­sponded this agree­ment and with lot of con­cern. Chi­nese FM spokesperson Hua Chun­y­ing said that, “We main­tain that rel­e­vant dis­putes in the South China Sea should be peace­fully re­solved through di­a­logue and con­sul­ta­tion be­tween coun­tries di­rectly con­cerned.” It was also em­pha­sised by China that, ex­tra-re­gional coun­tries should not in­ter­fere in the re­gional af­fairs, “to up­hold peace and sta­bil­ity of the South China Sea and keep the seren­ity of the South China Sea.”

A care­ful anal­y­sis of In­dian am­bi­tions ver­sus ca­pa­bil­i­ties would re­veal that, it has as­sumed for it­self a role big­ger than its po­ten­tials. Its so­called Blue Wa­ter Navy, fall short of op­er­at­ing in open seas, a pre-req­ui­site for “pro­ject­ing power to ar­eas of strate­gic in­ter­est.” Apart from short­age of strate­gic ships and air­craft car­ri­ers, In­dian Navy has short­age of; 1322 of­fi­cers, 11257 sailors and has un­der­gone many ac­ci­dents of its ships and sub­marines. Per­haps, more than New Delhi it­self, it is Wash­ing­ton, try­ing to push In­dia for a ma­jor role of net se­cu­rity provider in In­dian Ocean as well as in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, through the newly con­ceived con­cept of Indo-Pa­cific.

With the be­gin­ning of 21st cen­tury, In­dia is be­hav­ing as a Swing State. The US con­cept of swing state is, “swing states are those whose mixed po­lit­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion gives them a greater im­pact than their pop­u­la­tion or eco­nomic out­put might war­rant.” In­deed, In­dia is pro­ject­ing it­self more than its true po­ten­tials. Nev­er­the­less, it is a ma­jor coun­try in South Asia and its strate­gic part­ner­ship with US is rapidly trans­form­ing it as a re­gional hege­monic power; threat­en­ing the sovereignty and in­tegrity of other re­gional states in­clud­ing China.

The lo­gis­tic sup­port agree­ment be­ing fi­nalised in the form of Lo­gis­tics Ex­change Mem­o­ran­dum of Agree­ment (LEMOA) be­tween US and In­dia will en­dan­ger the re­gional peace. The agree­ment meant to es­tab­lish In­dian hege­mony in South Asia, In­dian Ocean and Asia-Pa­cific. US needed such an agree­ment on ur­gent ba­sis for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of its strate­gic plans and to counter the grow­ing mil­i­tary might, par­tic­u­larly the mar­itime power of China.

US is us­ing In­dia as an in­stru­ment and on its part, In­dia is con­sol­i­dat­ing its power to be­come a ma­jor power, a win-win sit­u­a­tion for both, but caus­ing in­sta­bil­ity in South Asia in par­tic­u­lar and Asia in gen­eral. With a dis­agree­able past, the con­vinc­ing ef­forts of In­dian De­fence Min­is­ter and NSA Doval may not as­suage the Chi­nese con­cerns. More­over, Shushma Suwaraj, the Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter may not be able to dis­pel the Rus­sian con­cerns over the grow­ing Indo-US strate­gic en­gage­ment.

The ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties of In­dian spy­ing net­work, RAW inside Pak­istan have taken a new turn, en­dan­ger­ing the strate­gic and eco­nomic in­ter­ests of Pak­istan. CPEC is the new tar­get of RAW, as re­vealed by ar­rested In­dian ter­ror­ist, Kul­ba­sun Yadev. In this re­gard, the Afghan soil is be­ing used against Pak­istan and China. RAW and NDS are col­lab­o­rat­ing in the pro­mo­tion of ter­ror­ism and sep­a­ratism in var­i­ous parts of Pak­istan. RAW is also spon­sor­ing Uzbek’s, Chechens, Ta­jiks, ETIM and other ter­ror­ists groups in­clud­ing Daesh to cre­ate un­rest in Pak­istan and Sinkiang, the Chi­nese Au­ton­o­mous re­gion. RAW and NSA Doval has their se­cret con­tacts with ISIS lead­er­ship and also con­tacted dis­en­chanted Tal­iban el­e­ments to join Daesh in Afghanistan. In­deed, In­dian ac­tiv­i­ties are cause of se­ri­ous con­cerns for Pak­istan and other coun­tries of the re­gion, which need to be coun­tered for a sta­ble and peace­ful South Asia as a re­gion and Asia as a con­ti­nent. — The writer is In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions an­a­lyst based in Is­lam­abad.

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