By Dipak Basu
Pakistan can now use US funding to lease defence supplies and is eligible for loans of military supplies for research and development projects. It can also buy depleted uranium ammunitions, which can penetrate any bunker, however strong, and will spread radiation among the population of the invaded country. The people of former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq are now suffering from increasing incidence of cancer due to the indiscriminate usage of depleted uranium-based ammunition by the American forces. The same will be true for India in a war with Pakistan in future.
Pakistan can now have US-owned military stockpiles on its territory outside US bases and can receive US military training on easy financial terms. Already Pakistan has received about a billion-dollar aid for both civilian and military purposes. The US also has written off about $ 400 million of foreign debt Pakistan had with the US. More will follow in future, as Pakistan will be, like Israel and Egypt, one of the most favourite destinations of the US aid.
India has spent more than one billion US dollars to buy Phalcon early warning system from Israel, Pakistan will get it free from the United States. The membership also means any attack on Pakistan will automatically invite retaliation on India from the NATO member countries nearby like Bahrain, Australia, Thailand, the Philippines, and of course the US.
Pakistan has paid to the US already during the regime of Benazir Bhutto for the supply of F-16 aircrafts, which can carry nuclear weapons. The US had decided previously not to supply these to Pakistan. Now there will be no restriction. As a result, along with the long-range ballistic missiles, already obtained from China and North Korea, Pakistan will have a formidable nuclear force outpacing that of India quite soon. It will automatically have the American nuclear umbrella.
India has spent more than one billion US dollars to buy Phalcon early warning system from Israel, Pakistan will get it free from the United States. The membership also means any attack on Pakistan will automatically invite retaliation on India from the NATO member countries nearby like Bahrain, Australia, Thailand, the Philippines, and of course the US. Thus, in future, it is quite possible for Pakistan to invade Kashmir, as it did in Kargil. India will not be able to react vigorously by crossing the international border as it did during the 1965 war to protect Kashmir.
Thus, although the ministry of foreign affairs is trying to play down the status of ?the non-NATO ally? as a matter of symbolic importance for Pakistan, future looks very bleak for India. Already a serious situation is emerging in the Arabian Sea, which was ignored so far by India in its drive for the peace process. Pakistan would soon join a UK-led seven-nation naval task force, which would patrol the Arabian Sea. The step would allow Pakistan Navy gets an opportunity to patrol with the ?maritime coalition ships the international waters of the Arabian Sea?.
The move is also linked with the Proliferation Security Initiative supported by the US and the UK, which calls for checking of suspected maritime traffic for weapons of mass destruction or dual-use technologies on board ships. Immediately after September 11, 2001, Pakistan allowed the US Navy to use Pasni as its base. The coalition naval operations at Pasni were the largest amphibious operations in size, duration, and depth that the marine corps had conducted since the Korean War.
The US ships deputed in the Arabian Sea as part of the Operation Enduring Freedom at that time included nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, supported by 10 US and Canadian ships and submarines, more than 80 tactical aircraft and a total of 8,500 sailors and marines. The US aircraft carrier was in addition to the three aircraft carrier groups?USS Carl Vinson, USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Kitty Hawk?which were anchored near the Pakistani coast to help conduct air operations against targets in Afghanistan. In addition to the aircraft carriers, other ships and submarines in the battle group included guided-missile cruisers USS Lake Champlain and USS Port Royal, guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur, guided-missile frigate USS Jarrett, submarines USS Jefferson City, and USS Salt Lake City. All these battle ships are now in Bahrain, another non-NATO ally of the US.
The exercise was aimed at enhancing interoperability and tactical proficiency of the Pakistani and US forces. According to the Asian Development Bank, the US is currently paying Pakistan $97 million every month for logistical support.
During September 2002, Pakistan navy'sships Tipu Sultan and Shahjahan participated in the “Exercise Inspired Siren” along with US guided-missile frigate and ships. The exercise was aimed at enhancing interoperability and tactical proficiency of the Pakistani and US forces. According to the Asian Development Bank, the US is currently paying Pakistan $ 97 million every month for logistical support.
The non-NATO ally status would give Pakistan access to the naval power of the coalition forces in the Arabian Sea. It would also mean Indian navy would not be allowed to take action against Pakistan without inviting reactions from the navy of the coalition forces led by the US and the UK.
India'sexpectation from the US
During the Clinton administration, India was frequently bullied by the US and was forced to accept an unequal treaty, which paved the way for the creations of the World Trade Organisation. India has allowed its economic policy to be subjugated by the US interests. Even then the Clinton administration tried to force India to accept the nuclear non-proliferation treaty but failed. Since 1995, it had become the close ally of Pakistan and the Taliban.
The US turned a blind eye to terrorism unleashed upon India in Kashmir and the refugee problem Pakistan created. Irrespective of that, India expected that the US would declare Pakistan a terrorist state. The Indian private sector and the government expected dramatic changes in the economic relationship between India and the US, which was only partially fulfilled, with the US refusing to open its banking and finance sector to India or to reduce subsidies in agriculture or not to impose anti-dumping tariff on Indian exports.
The Bush administration made dramatic changes in India'sperceptions by creating an illusion of interests on India as a long-term partner. After 9/11, India expected to be a partner of the US in the defence of Asia by offering all assistance to the US. In the meantime, Indo-US commercial relationship flourished. Peace process with Pakistan came as the price India has to pay to maintain its growing relationship with the US. However, the US has now chosen Pakistan, not India, as the partner to achieve its goal to neutralise the Middle East, as culturally Pakistan is a part of the Middle East, not of the Indian subcontinent, however much the ?secularists? talk about the composite Hindu-Muslim culture. The status of the ?non-NATO ally? is the advance payment to Pakistan to achieve a ?new Middle-East? as desired by the US.
Bush administration made dramatic changes in India'sperceptions, by creating an illusion of interests on India as a long-term partner. After 9/11, India has expected to be a partner of the US in the defense of Asia, by offering all assistance to the US.
US aim in the Middle East and the role of Pakistan
As Colin Powell pointed out recently, the initiative for the peace process came from the United States, not from either Vajpayee or Musharraf. The US has a specific aim in the Middle East. It has already subdued most of the Middle-Eastern countries except Iran and Syria, who are considered threats to Israel. The US now wants to neutralise these countries by any means so that Israel can pursue its interests to consolidate its colonization process of illegally acquired territories in Golan Heights in Syria, South Lebanon, West Bank of Jordan and areas of the Palestine. The initiative of the United States to form a ?Greater Middle East? is an ambitious reform plan that seeks to synchronise the vast Arab Muslim region extending from Morocco to Pakistan with the American political and economic order.
Pakistan is eager to play the role to convince other Islamic countries in the Middle East and North Africa, that an American economic and political order, which has pulled up Pakistan from the status of a ?failed and bankrupt? nation to an important ally of the US with a growing economy with its foreign debts paid up by the US, would also be beneficial for them both politically and economically. The Nixon administration neutralised Egypt, the most formidable foe of Israel, through massive foreign aid programme. Iraq is already occupied. Economic sanctions are already imposed on Syria, which can be the next target of the US for attack.
The aim of the US is to secure the future of Israel, when the whole of the Middle East can be a part of a much extended Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) of 1950s. This extended CENTO will be a part of NATO, as the NATO army is already in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kirghizstan, and Iraq. Pakistan as an Islamic country is perfectly suitable for such an outfit, but India does not fit in this picture.
(To be concluded)