Pakistan, India in Bitter Contest to win Over US | Shafqat Ali

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan and India are engaged in a bitter contest to win over the United States amid the ever-falling trust deficit, diplomatic sources said yesterday.

Since the partition in 1947 and creation Pakistan and India, the two South Asian nations have been involved in four wars, including one undeclared war and many border skirmishes and military stand-offs.

The Kashmir issue has been the main cause, whether direct or indirect, of all major conflicts between the two countries with the exception of the 1971 war where conflict originated due to turmoil in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Apart from the wars, there have been skirmishes between the two nations from time to time. The countries were also expected to fight each other in 1955 after warlike posturing on both sides, but full-scale war did not break out.

The past few months have seen ups and downs in the ties – the peak coming when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit in December and the dip after the last month’s attack on an airbase in Pathankot.

India believes Jaish-e-Mohammed was involved in the attack but Pakistan – after preliminary investigations – found no evidence against the JeM or its supremo Maulana Masood Azhar.

Pakistani authorities are in contact with the Indian counterparts to collect more evidence which might prove JeM links with the January 2 attack. Reports said some Pakistani investigators were already in India for the probe.

Washington has until now appreciated Pakistan’s actions after the Pathankot incident but New Delhi wanted Islamabad to ‘do more.’ India has also been updating the US and complaining against Pakistan’s alleged ‘go slow’ policy.

Yesterday, a four-member Pakistani delegation was in Washington to attend the sixth round of ministerial-level Pakistan-US strategic dialogue to be held today.

The Pakistani delegation is headed by Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and includes Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali and Interior Secretary Arif Khan.

The talks will take stock of entire gamut of bilateral relations between the two countries. The US delegation will be led by John Kerry.

The six segments of the strategic dialogue include cooperation in economy and finance, energy, education, science and technology, law enforcement and counter-terrorism, security, strategic stability and non-proliferation and defence.

It will be the third annual meeting since the present government has come to power. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the US in October last had given necessary impetus to the dialogue mechanism.

Earlier, Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan kept informing the US of security threats and will also do so in future. He reiterated Pakistan was trying to bring peace in the region for which it was working with the US.

Official sources said the two sides could discuss the Pathankot attack apart from the scheduled agenda and Pakistan will try to convince the US about its sincerity to defeat terrorism.

A senior diplomat, engaged with the Pak-US talks, told The Nation, India had been sending bags full of complaints against Pakistan.

“For the time being the balance is in our favour. The US is appreciating our efforts against terrorism and also giving less weight to the Indian complaints. But there is a bitter war to win over the US,” he said.

He referred to the recent F-16 jets deal which irked India. “But US did not lend an ear to India. On the Pathankot attack too the US seems satisfied with our efforts,” he added.

Another diplomat said Indian lobby had been pressing the US to use its influence and force Pakistan to act against the JeM chief and other accused wanted by India.

“John Kerry is likely to discuss the Indian complaint box with Sartaj Aziz but there is no chance of a rebuke from Washington. Our ties with the US are positive and growing. At this point we are ahead of India in the war to win the US but their lobby is also strong. There is a tug of war,” he remarked.

Defence analyst Lt. General Talat Masood (retd) said the Indian criticism on the deal of F16s was unjustifiable as the New Delhi was continuously purchasing latest weapons and technologies from the world, including from the US.

He said between 2011 and 2015, India was the only country to import major weapons. “The war against terrorism is a global war and the Pakistan’s efforts are laudable. India should realise and appreciate the services of Pakistan against terrorism, rather than creating baseless propaganda,” he added.

General Masood said India was against the development and prosperity of Pakistan and had always tried to harm any step which can contribute to Pakistan positively.

Another defence analyst, Dr Mohammed Khan, said the Indian lobby in US congress was involved in propaganda against Pakistan. “US also has strategic relationship with India but Pakistan never opposed it. The US is deeply involved in Afghanistan. The US and NATO depend on Pakistan due to Pakistan’s geographical location. This is their need to empower Pakistan to get positive results in war against terrorism,” he added.

He said the International community acknowledged the efforts and sacrifices of Pakistan in the war against terror. “India wants to see Pakistan as a weak state but fact of the matter is that now Pakistan is successfully encountering the menace of terrorism. India is worried about this progress and development of Pakistan and crying like a baby,” he contended.

Published in The Nation newspaper on 29-Feb-2016


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