Indian hand in scuttling F-16s deal
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.