Interaction on US-Pakistan Relations
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Daniel S. Markey, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (C.F.R.) and the author of ‘No Exit from Pakistan: America's Tortured Relationship with Islamabad’ held an intense and wide ranging interaction with the VIF faculty on19 Nov 2014. While the interaction intended to focus on the future trajectory of US- Pakistan relations, Asia’s broader strategic contours, defined increasingly by the growing expanse of terrorist networks, the US rebalancing in Asia-Pacific, and the counter measures by China attempting to expand its own sphere of influence across the region with slew of sea and land-based economic corridors, comprising New Maritime Silk Route and Silk Road Economic Belt, among others, crisscrossing large parts of Asia, formed the bulk of interaction.

General (Retd) N C Vij, Director VIF, while introducing the subject to the panel, expressed his enthusiasm about the upswing in the bilateral ties between India and the United States. Daniel Markey’s in-depth analysis covered the broad spectrum of US-Pakistan relations from a historical perspective, underpinning inherent inconsistencies as well as underlying irritants in the relationship. He commented that while in the past, the US policies towards Pakistan were largely dictated by cold war considerations, particularly the need to counter balance the Soviet Union, the changing regional dynamics will determine the future trajectory of US-Pakistan relations. To a large extent, the rise of China will be instrumental in shaping US foreign policies in this region in future. The cold war polices pursued by the US in this region resulted in countervailing effects for the bilateral relationship between India and the United States. Post Cold War, the US however is pursuing more independently its polices towards India. It has not only de-hyphenated India and Pakistan but also tried to insulate its policy with a civil nuclear deal.

In so far as the US rebalancing in Asia–Pacific is concerned, the strategy need not necessarily be viewed through the prism of China containment policy. On the contrary, the strategy per se is directed towards structuring rule-based international system, a further imperative to improve ties with India. To that extent, the US welcomes India’s growing ties with major US allies in the region, especially Japan with whom China has a running maritime dispute in the East China Sea.

From India’s standpoint, the US wanting India to play an active role in East Asia while itself remaining apathetic to India’s concerns in the West is somewhat disconcerting. It was also highlighted during the session that US policies towards the region have considerably reduced India’s strategic options, particularly in places like Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East, while leaving her even more vulnerable to face the threats of terrorism from across the borders. It is imperative for the US to accommodate India’s concerns for the strategic partnership to really succeed. In this context, the growing Jihadist challenge in Pakistan, especially the country’s potential of turning in to a radical Sunni Islamic state and posing even greater threat to the world also came up for pointed discussion during the session.

The futility of continued US economic and military assistance to Pakistan was highlighted, especially in light of the fact that a fragile economy on the cusp of becoming a failed state was squandering away its meager economic resources by supporting terrorist networks in the region and building military capabilities against an imagined enemy, India. Beside, Pakistan has effectively leveraged terrorism as a state policy to extract more and more economic and military aid from the United States. The US feels extremely frustrated for not being able to change Pakistan’s strategic behavior despite all the assistance it has given to that country.

Pakistan’s post-2014 strategy in Afghanistan, growing China-Pakistan collaboration in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) as also in nuclear and other strategic affairs were amongst issues discussed prominently during the session which lasted a little over two hours. The Director concluded the session saying India wants to improve ties with the US, but remains skeptical about Pakistan-US relations.

Event Date 
November 19, 2014
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