Opinion : US-Pak joint Statement
The recently released Pakistan-US joint statement has raised serious concerns for Bharat with reference to terrorism, nuclear cooperation and support for hydro power dams in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Bharat should make US aware of Bharat’s concern about the agreement signed between US and Pakistan.
The joint statement issued by US President Barack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on October 22, 2015 demonstrates a higher degree of US sensitivity to Pakistani concerns and bearing to the direct implications for Bharat. The highlights of the joint statement is the security situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s supports of Haqqani terror network, Pakistan relations with Bharat including Kashmir and emphasis was laid on measures to prevent Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal from falling into terrorist hands. Here are few points in the joint statement that need attention of Bharat.
Kashmir Issue: In the joint statement, both leaders emphasised “the importance of a sustained and resilient dialogue process between the two neighbours aimed at resolving all outstanding territorial and other disputes, including Kashmir, through peaceful means and working together to address mutual concerns of Bharat-Pakistan regarding terrorism.” The references to Bharat and Pakistan ties and the need to resolve all outstanding disputes, including Kashmir is a major concern for Bharat. Bharat has opposed the reference to Kashmir by saying that it is committed to resolve issues with Pakistan bilaterally under the spirit of Shimla Agreement. Pakistan uses the excuse of Kashmir for its terrorist onslaught against Bharat, which makes it even more necessary not to pander to its Kashmir fixation. But the US is unable to shed its traditional pro-Pakistan slant on Kashmir. By calling Kashmir a “dispute”, the US prefers the Pakistani side. The joint statement calls for an uninterrupted dialogue in support of peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, rejecting implicitly the Bharateeya stand that dialogue and terror cannot go together.
Terrorism: President Obama commended Pakistan for hosting and facilitating the first public talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban in July 2015 and highlighted the opportunity presented by Pakistan’s willingness to facilitate a reconciliation process that would help end insurgent violence in Afghanistan. The US appreciation to Pakistan will give a negative impact on Bharat’s interest in Afghanistan because Bharat has played important role in the reconstruction process.
Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif reaffirmed that Pakistan’s territory will not be used against any other country. The statement also expressed concern over “violence along the Line of Control”. Pakistan is continuously violating the ceasefire along the LoC. This reference may cause heartburn in Bharat. The joint statement called for Bharat and Pakistan addressing “mutual concerns” regarding terrorism. Pakistan accuses Bharat of promoting insurgency in Balochistan and handed over dossiers to the US, which it claimed, were evidence to prove its charges. In this context, the Prime Minister apprised the President about Pakistan’s resolve to take effective action against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its affiliates, as per its international commitments and obligations under UN Security Council resolutions and the Financial Action Task Force”. I do not know what effective actions have been taken against Haqqani network including LeT. The Pakistan will not take any effective actions against Lashkar and Haqqani network because they are providing the man power through the madrassa network. The joint statement mentioned violence along the LoC but skipped regular fire exchange along the ‘Working Boundary’, an important omission because for some time, now Bharat, which also used the term ‘Working Boundary’, has started referring as the ‘International Border’. In the joint statement it is stated that both nations are, in one way or the other, responsible for the violence and need to sort it out, which can only be envisaged that US is supporting Pakistan who has started the violence along LoC since last two decades.
Bharat has been demanded from Pakistan to take actions against LeT chief Hafiz Saeed, especially after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, when the Lashkar top leadership was charged with planning and executing the terror attack in Mumbai. Hafiz Saeed is freely moving in Pakistan and collected handsome donations during Id-ul-Zuha for the cause of Kashmir and Lashkar operations. Chief Lakhvi is out on bail, and there seems little evidence that Pakistani forces have conducted any sort of crackdown on the LeT, especially when compared to action against other terrorist groups after the school attack in Peshawar on December 2014. Despite Bharateeya representations to the US and UN, there has been little pressure on Pakistan how Lakhvi raised the funds when according to the UNSC 1267 Committee rules, a designated terrorist cannot be allowed recourse to finances. While Lashkar leader Lakhvi being granted bail is a violation of that commitment.
There is no question of happiness to Bharat that the first time the joint statement mentions LeT and the Haqqani network as terror organisations on which Pakistan has to act upon. The spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of Bharat, Vikas Swarup said that, “terrorism naturally comes to mind when talking about Pakistan. US-Pak joint statement devotes much space to it…we hope that they deliver on these commitments”. I feel that the Pakistan has given assurance to take action against to Haqqani network only to get the US economic assistance which Obama has pledged $900 million in assistance to Pakistan for 2015-16 because Pakistan’s economic condition is not good.
Nuclear Security and Non-proliferation: The joint statement recognised the shared interest in strategic stability in South Asia. The two leaders underscored that all sides should continuously act with maximum restraint and work jointly toward strengthening strategic stability in South Asia. President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif discussed the continuing threat of nuclear terrorism. The US and Pakistan committed to work together to make the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Obama next year a success. President Obama welcomed Pakistan’s constructive engagement with the Nuclear Security Summit process and its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international forums. In a joint statement, both leaders said “all sides” should act with restraint and work toward strategic stability in South Asia. Bharateeya nuclear doctrine already based on No first use policy. It will be unwise and ill-advised for Bharat to assume it would be so.
One of the most important points made in the joint statement is about strategic trade controls and Pakistan’s enhanced engagement with multilateral export control regimes. Both US and Pak agreed to continue engagement and build on the current discussions. The part that is of major concern to Bharat is that Pakistan responded to the report saying that it has low-yield tactical nuclear weapons aimed at Bharat. Bharat and US have a strategic partnership today. Bharat now purchases major US defence equipment, overcoming earlier reluctance to create dependence on a country considered unreliable as a defence partner. A stand alone US-Bharat Joint Declaration on ‘Combating Terrorism’ was issued in September 2015. With such rapid advance in building trust based ties in sensitive nuclear, defence, maritime and counterterrorism areas, we would have expected the US to shed its inclination to take position on Bharat and not to the Pakistan.
Hydroelectric Projects: In the statement US has expressed its decision in funding the hydro projects in PoJK and Gilgit-Baltistan which belongs to Bharat, but is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. Earlier this year, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj condemned the Diamer Bhasha and Dasu dam projects because they are in the disputed area of PoJK. Bharat even told the UN General Assembly that, “Bharat’s reservations about the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor stem from the fact that it passes through Bharateeya Territory illegally occupied by Pakistan ”. But US President Barack Obama has supported Pakistan’s attempts to get funding for the projects.
The recently released Pakistan-US joint statement has raised serious concerns for Bharat with reference to terrorism, nuclear cooperation and support for hydro power dams in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Bharat should make US aware of Bharat’s concern about the agreement signed between US and Pakistan. Bharat can also oppose this statement by raising this issue in International organisations such as UN and at regional groups like SAARC ets.
Dr Vivek Kumar Mishra (The writer is working as Assistant Professor in the School of Law, Justice & Governance, Gautam Buddha University, Uttar Pradesh)