October 12, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether India should be concerned about the recent bonhomie between the US and Pakistan. We also look at the approval to sell beer in departmental stores in Jammu and Kashmir, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Pakistan’s Outreach To The US – Should India Be Concerned?
Geopolitics is a piece of complex machinery. It’s constantly shifting as events in one part of the world shape opinions in the other. Countries look to influence others to ensure their security and sovereignty. India’s role has shifted over the years as its influence has grown in the region and beyond. But any country will also keep its eyes open to how other countries interact and what that might mean for them.
The recent outreach by Pakistan to the US has garnered some attention. It involved the visit by Donald Blome (US Ambassador to Pakistan) to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). There’s also the F-16 package that the Pentagon announced. Should these developments concern India, given its history with Pakistan in the region?
To begin, we’ve got to see how diplomatic ties between Pakistan and the US have evolved. Relations between the two countries date back to 1947. At the time, it was purely military and economic. In the initial years, the country had the option of aligning with the Soviet Union or the US. It chose the latter.
The first major military agreement was signed in 1954. The Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement saw Pakistani soldiers training in the US. In return, a Military Assistance Advisory Group was set up in Rawalpindi. Over the years, the US increased aid to Pakistan, but it was concentrated toward the western part of the country. As the war with India was underway, there was a rough patch. The US placed economic and military embargoes on Pakistan.
During the Cold War, despite the arms embargo, Pakistan remained an ally of the US. Fast forward to 1992, and relations reached an all-time low. US ambassador Nicholas Platt warned that Pakistan could be included in a list of countries that sponsor terrorism. In 1998, things escalated when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif conducted a nuclear test in Balochistan. It was a response to India conducting similar tests. The US imposed sanctions on both countries.
In the aftermath of 9/11, Pakistan became one of the US’s most important allies despite President Pervez Musharraf saying he had no option. Since the war on terror began in 2001, Pakistan has received $20 billion from the US. The ensuing tensions with India and domestic political instability complicated matters with the US.
Now, with the war in Ukraine and Pakistan closely allied with China on trade, India’s ears have perked up a bit more. The $450 million F-16 upgrade package is of particular concern for India. The Modi government has conveyed this to the US. On PoK, one comment to note is the ambassador calling the territory “liberated”.
Do these recent events signal a shift forward in Pakistan-US relations that should concern India?
VIEW: India needs to pay attention to this
The ambassador visit and the F-16 package happened in a month. Suffice it to say these were in the works for a while. On PoK, India objected to Blome’s visit. India didn’t take too kindly to him calling the region Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). It was the second high-profile visit to PoK by a US official after Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s visit.
India’s stance on the region is clear – it is illegally occupied by Pakistan. They don’t want third parties to give it legitimacy. In 1994, India passed a resolution stating PoK is a part of India and Pakistan should end its illegal occupation of it. What complicated matters further were comments made by Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. He said relations between Pakistan and the US were no longer linked to India or Afghanistan.
Zardari spoke positively about the US’s new foreign policy approach towards Pakistan. He dismissed India’s concerns about the F-16 package. Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar pointed out that relations hadn’t benefitted any country. What’s more concerning for India is that it wasn’t aware of the F-16 deal before its announcement. Obviously, the US is entitled to forge ties with Pakistan. However, it shouldn’t be at the cost of any rift with one of its key QUAD partners.
COUNTERVIEW: Shouldn’t be top of mind for India now
No doubt, the developments over the past month are to be noted. But it’s not necessarily going to change things drastically. Pakistan’s General Qamar Javed Bajwa has recently been making the rounds in Washington, meeting top officials. It’s not much of a surprise. He’s well-regarded in Western capitals. Also, the visit was planned long ago but was delayed due to travel restrictions.
Broadly speaking, India’s economy is several times larger and more advanced than Pakistan’s. Its political leverage against India has weakened over the years. For India, it’s the opposite, particularly on the world stage. We can thank QUAD for that. If India does want to worry about Pakistan, there are a couple of things that deserve more attention. First is the long-standing security concerns about terrorism. Second is the internal instability of Bajwa’s reign.
If India needs to be worried about anyone in the region, it should be China. There’s been a deepening of the rift between the US and China. China has been trying to nudge Pakistan away from its pro-US stance. What India should worry about is the complications arising out of this. If India’s goal is to counter China, the US could help with its Pakistan outreach. Also, the internal political turmoil in Pakistan isn’t going to help the country regain its position as a strategic partner to the US.
- Timeline: History of US-Pakistan relations – Dawn
- An unhappy alliance – Los Angeles Times
- The Misunderstood History of Pakistan-US Relations – The Diplomat
- US-Pak redux has implications on ties with India & QUAD – Hindustan Times
- India raises strong objection to US envoy’s visit to Pak-Occupied Kashmir – Hindustan Times
- Pak-US ties no longer linked to India, Afghanistan: Foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto – WION
- Pakistan and the US: Why General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s push to renew ties with Washington shouldn’t be a concern for India – Indian Express
What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) India should be worried about deepening Pakistan-US relations.
b) India shouldn’t be worried about deepening Pakistan-US relations.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
This Is The Seed Of All Corruption In India
For the Left:
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🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Sale of beer in departmental stores approved (Jammu and Kashmir) – The Administrative Council, under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, approved the sale of beer and other ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages at departmental stores. The stores that have a carpet area of 1,200 square feet or more and an annual turnover of ₹5 crores in Jammu and Srinagar, and ₹2 crores in urban areas will be eligible.
Why it matters: Liberal provisions have been incorporated in the Jammu and Kashmir Liquor License and Sale Rules, 1984, and Excise Policy 2023-24 in order to grant License JKEL-2A to sell beer and RTD beverages in departmental stores of urban areas.
First-ever FIDE-rated chess tournament (Meghalaya) – Held between October 3 and 8 this year, the first-ever FIDE-rated chess tournament took place in Tura for the players of Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. The prestigious tournament allows players to take at least one and a half an hour per person to make the moves, following the Swiss League system of nine rounds.
Why it matters: Dolrich B G Momin, the Project Director and Additional Commissioner of West Garo Hills, who was the Chief Guest on the concluding day of the tournament, stated that a Chess Arena has been built in D C Park, which is one of its kind in the world, drawing the attention of many chess enthusiasts.
Dearness Allowance for government employees boosted (Jharkhand) – The Jharkhand government has increased the Dearness Allowance (DA) of government employees to 38% as well as the dearness relief (DR) for its pensioners to 38%. This decision was announced at a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by chief minister Hemant Soren.
Why it matters: 19 proposals were approved at this meeting by the council of ministers. The increase in the DA and DR will benefit over two lakh government employees and 1.35 lakh pensioners.
Village goes offline every day (Maharashtra) – Vadgaon village in Maharashtra has declared “independence” from the key addictions of today – television and the internet. Every evening, a siren goes off at 7 pm in the village, indicating that residents should switch off their TVs and mobile phones. The council plays the siren again at 8:30 pm, indicating that the two instruments of addiction can be used again.
Why it matters: The president of the village council, Vijay Mohite said that children have become dependent on these gadgets for online classes during the pandemic. However, since offline classes have resumed, they have been addicted to their mobile phones and watching television after class. The implementation of the digital detox helped significantly with this.
Govt to fine ‘modified’ vehicles (Kerala) – The Kerala Transport Minister, Antony Raju, clarified that the government would charge hefty penalties on tourist buses if illegal fittings are found on the vehicles. He said that at least ₹10,000 would be charged for each new fitting, making the fine double what it currently is.
Why it matters: This decision comes after the tragic Palakkad accident, where a tourist bus collided with a KSRTC vehicle, killing nine passengers. The speed governor, which regulates the speed of the vehicle, was detached from the tourist bus. The minister also added that tampering with the speed governor could invite criminal charges.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
38% – A Microsoft survey revealed that small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India report the shortest average tenure, with only 38% in operation for 10 years.