In­dian hand in scut­tling F-16s deal

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - Email:han­i­f­sar­dar@hot­mail.com Col M Hanif (Retd)

THE stop­page of sub­sidi­s­a­tion of the F-16s sale to Pak­istan by the US

Congress has neg­a­tively im­pacted upon Pak­istan-US re­la­tions, at least in the short term. It was sur­pris­ing to note that Pres­i­dent Obama some­how also felt con­strained to use his power to veto the res­o­lu­tion passed by the US Congress. The dis­ap­proval of sub­si­diza­tion of sale of F-16s to Pak­istan by the US Congress on the pre­text that it was not con­sid­er­ing ac­tion against the Haqqani net­work was sur­pris­ing in the lu­mi­nos­ity of the fact that since last one-year Pak­istan mil­i­tary had set in mo­tion the oper­a­tion Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziris­tan against ter­ror­ists with­out any favouritism. In this oper­a­tion Pak­istan mil­i­tary has achieved strik­ing suc­cesses. The area has been cleared of ter­ror­ists and the oper­a­tion is about to end very soon.

It seems that the mo­ti­va­tion of the US Congress to scut­tle fund­ing of the F-16 sale deal to Pak­istan is due to some other rea­sons as well. It ap­pears that the US Congress has been in­flu­enced by In­dia’s anti-Pak­istan lob­by­ing, ad­vanc­ing Pak­istan-China re­la­tions and In­dian pro­pa­ganda against the construction of the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC). It was stated by the Ad­vi­sor to the Prime Min­is­ter, Sar­taj Aziz to the joint meet­ing of the Sen­ate Stand­ing Com­mit­tees on For­eign Af­fairs and De­fence that the Sino-Pak­istan friendly ties in gen­eral and Chi­naPak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) in par­tic­u­lar are the grounds for the US’ tilt to­wards In­dia and the re­cent down­turn in US-Pak­istan re­la­tions. Ear­lier also, when Pak­istan was ne­go­ti­at­ing the F-16 deal with the US, Sar­taj Aziz had said that Pak­istan had neu­tral­ized the In­dian ef­forts to un­der­mine the deal. This in­di­cates that apart from US ap­pre­hen­sions of Pak­istan not tak­ing ac­tion against the Haqqani net­work, de­spite Zarb-eAzb, the real rea­sons for US de­ci­sion of not sub­si­diz­ing the F-16 deal are In­dian fac­tor and Pak­istan-China’s grow­ing re­la­tions.

Since Modi be­came the Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia, he em­braced a dual pol­icy per­tain­ing to Pak­istan. While ap­par­ently he stayed to make ad­vances in build­ing peace with Pak­istan, he ac­tu­ally stuck with a pol­icy of iso­lat­ing Pak­istan in the re­gion as well as in the globe. To achieve this ob­jec­tive, his gov­ern­ment un­der­mined Pak­istan’s con­tri­bu­tions in fight­ing the war on ter­ror by blam­ing it for pro­vid­ing sanc­tu­ar­ies to ter­ror­ists and for ter­ror­ist acts hap­pen­ing in In­dia. Modi also failed SAARC ef­forts in mak­ing SAFTA a suc­cess story by sign­ing bi­lat­eral trade ar­range­ments with some SAARC coun­tries. In this con­text, to iso­late Pak­istan in re­gion, In­dia also pur­sued the way of mak­ing some trade agree­ments at sub-re­gional level. More­over, In­dia ex­ploited is­sues be­tween Afghanistan and Iran and tried to dis­tance th­ese coun­tries from Pak­istan.

Other than above, us­ing its strate­gic re­la­tions with the US, under di­rec­tion of Modi, In­dia is sus­pected of con­sis­tently feed­ing cooked in­tel­li­gence to the US to cre­ate doubts about Pak­istan’s sin­cer­ity to fight the war on ter­ror re­lated to Afghanistan and used Afghanistan and Iran’s soil through its RAW op­er­a­tives to desta­bi­lize Pak­istan by en­gi­neer­ing and sup­port­ing ter­ror­ist acts in the country. This was with the ob­jec­tive to prove that Pak­istan’ nu­clear weapons were not safe. This all was be­ing done for spoiling Pak­istan-US re­la­tions. Hence, it is very likely that In­dian lob­by­ing was the main fac­tor in sab­o­tag­ing the F-16s sale deal.

Also, de­spite its very close trade re­la­tions with China, In­dia is op­pos­ing the construction of CPEC. In­dia is try­ing to dis­rupt work on the CPEC by even sup­port­ing ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties in Balochis­tan. It is also try­ing to con­vince the US against the CPEC and ex­ploit­ing US sen­si­tiv­i­ties about China by crit­i­ciz­ing Pak­istan-China friend­ship. Al­though CPEC is an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and trade re­lated project, In­dia is try­ing to give strate­gic colour to the CPEC and the de­vel­op­ment of Gwadar port. Rather than join­ing the CPEC as a re­gional de­vel­op­ment project, In­dia is out to un­der­mine this mega project, sup­posed to be a game changer for the re­gion. So, as part of its anti-Pak­istan pol­i­tics, it ap­pears that as the US part­ner in its Asia pivot pol­icy, In­dia has suc­ceeded in en­gi­neer­ing the scut­tling of F-16s deal with Pak­istan.

In the light of the above, Pak­istan needs to be vig­i­lant about In­dia’s hypocrisy and it re­quires to use its diplo­matic skills to neu­tral­ize In­dian de­signs. Pak­istan should also en­deav­our, by us­ing diplo­matic means and sus­tained lob­by­ing in the US, to con­vince the US Ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Congress that they should not be­lieve in In­dia’s mo­ti­vated in­tel­li­gence re­ports on is­sues re­lated to Pak­istan. Pak­istan needs to con­vince the US Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Congress that Pak­istan-US good re­la­tions and mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion are nec­es­sary for long term peace and sta­bil­ity of Afghanistan, South Asia, Cen­tral Asia and the Mid­dle East. — The writer works for Is­lam­abad Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute, a think tank based in Is­lam­abad.

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