Pakistan’s Prime Minister Iran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote. Since his deposition, he has been weeping hoarsely that his unceremonial overthrow was a result of US regime change policy. The US, through his deputies, punished him for daring to visit Russia and also for trying to forge an independent policy.
Public opinion in Pakistan is divided. His followers take his words at face value, while his opponents take his claims with a pinch of salt. The US was initially so embarrassed that it refused any interference in Pakistan’s internal politics. US stance was strengthened by Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruling that saw no rat behind the no-confidence motion.
But then the US “principled” stance was weakened by another authority. At the end of the two-plus-two dialogue, the US made a lavish mention of Pakistan in the communiqué. The joint statement reads:
. Ministers condemned in the strongest terms any use of terrorist proxies and transnational terrorism in all its forms and called for the perpetrators of the November 26 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks to be brought to justice. They called for concerted action against all terrorist groups, including groups banned by the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee such as al-Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). , and Hizb ul Mujahideen. The ministers urged Pakistan to take immediate, sustained and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorist attacks. The ministers committed to the continuous exchange of information on sanctions and designations against terrorist groups and individuals, countering violent radicalism, the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes and the cross-border movement of terrorists. Ministers also stressed the importance of compliance by all countries with international standards on combating money laundering and countering terrorist financing, in line with FATF recommendations.
The skewed remarks about Pakistan (like Afghanistan) were unjustified. The dialogue was essentially intended to take stock of the situation arising from the role of critical and emerging technologies in the new world order. Or to examine how the QUAD can be further strengthened as a bulwark against China.
India’s association with the US as a “partner in arms” against China is no secret. In 2020, the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the establishment of the New, Emerging and Strategic Technologies Department, which will deal with technology diplomacy and deal with foreign policy and international legal aspects of the critical and emerging technologies. The US National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, in its October 2020 report, called on the State and Defense Departments to formally negotiate with India to develop cooperation on emerging technologies. It called on the administration to establish a US-India strategic tech alliance with the goal of making India a focal point of American foreign policy and an overarching Indo-Pacific strategy focused on emerging technologies and India’s increasingly important geopolitical role concentrated.
In March 2021, both sides launched the US-India Artificial Intelligence Initiative to expand science and technology cooperation. The two countries also joined the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) as founding members in June 2020 to support the responsible and human-centric development and use of AI.
Meanwhile, in 2016, the US recognized India as a key defense partner to advance cooperation in defense and strategic technology -production involving private companies and the Memorandum of Understanding on scientific and technological cooperation. The two sides also completed the signing of the basic agreements, i.e., Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in 2016, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement in 2018, and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) for geo-spatial cooperation in 2020, which will further facilitate this defense and strategic technological cooperation. During the first Quad Leadership Summit in March 2021, the leaders of Australia, Japan, India and the US launched a working group on critical and emerging technologies
Indo US bonhomie boosts trading
Trade between India and the US has increased from US$19 billion in 2000 to US$146.1 billion in 2019. Per cent of Indian exports were subject to US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry Security (BIS) licensing requirements. The US exported 9.2 percent under a BIS-exempt license and 1.2 percent under a BIS license exemption. As such, the US emerged as the key
A point to think about
At the end of the dialogue, a joint press briefing took place. It was attended by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin; Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishanker and India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. At that briefing, US spokesman Blinken said:
“We regularly engage with our Indian partners on these shared values (of human rights) and to that end, we are monitoring some recent developments in India, including an increase in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials.”.
Blinker’s opinions are not included, nor is the communiqué. Moreover, India has not even bothered to address the concerns expressed, albeit without mentioning specific cases.
Blinker’s comments came days after US Representative Ilhan Omar questioned the US government’s alleged reluctance to criticize Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on human rights issues.
Omar, a member of President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party, said last week: “What does Modi need to do to India’s Muslim population before we stop looking at them as partners in peace?”
Right-wing Hindu groups have launched attacks on minorities since Modi came to power. The BJP government passed anti-conversion laws, lynching and banning Muslim worshipers Headscarf, and even petitioned the court against the use of loudspeakers by mosques. Disputed Kashmir was annexed as a union territory to be controlled by the center after being stripped of its statehood.
India is used to blaming Pakistan for all its terrorist incidents. The investigations in almost all cases are sloppy and the evidence patchy. The US and India see Lashkar-e-Tyyaba behind every “act of terrorism” in Kashmir or anywhere else in India. For example, documentary analysis shows that secret trials in Mumbai were transparent (Davidson, Betrayal of India: Evidence Review 11/26).
Regarding India’s “charge sheet” on Pakistan over the Pulwama incident, several questions came to mind: (a) Why did India bet on the FBI when it already had all the communications from Pakistan? Is there no collusion between the FBI and India? (b) Why did India blame Pakistan before the forensic laboratory and National Investigation Agency investigation report? (c) Why is there different information about the weight of the RDX used? The Indian Express speculated: “High-grade RDX explosives weighing approximately 80 kilograms were used in the suicide bombing.” The Hindu estimated 100-150 kg. (d) Why was a private vehicle allowed to approach the scene of an incident in violation of the CRPF’s ongoing operating procedures? The CRPF’s permanent operating procedure required the movement of up to 100 people in a convoy. Why did the CRPF move such convoys, each with more than 2,500 personnel, on the Srinagar-Jammu highway? Two such convoys had traveled from Jammu to Srinagar in the past two weeks. The last was on February 4 with a convoy of 91 vehicles and 2,871 personnel. (e) Why could the convoy not see the lone suicide vehicle behind them? (f) How did the terrorists know that the convoy was delayed by two days? (g) How could they go undetected all day loading explosives into the vehicle? (h) Not only WhatsApp, but landlines have never been accessible, even in Hindu-majority Jammu (Occupied Kashmir). Then how come the FBI told the NIA about the WhatsApp group run by a member of the terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad who was in contact with the people who carried out the attack on Pulwama? (i) According to the FBI, a man named Mohammed Hussain ran the WhatsApp group from Muzaffarabad. But the number was registered under the name Jameela of Budgam (INDIA NEWS NETWORK, August 27).
Despite ups and downs, Pak-US relations endure. The US still needs Pakistan’s cooperation to guide its policy in Afghanistan. Imran Khan is a charismatic leader. By the time Pakistan’s general elections are held in a year and a half, the ousted prime minister will have turned the majority of Pakistanis into a US-hating mob. Such a possibility would thwart US efforts to remain popular with the majority of Pakistan’s population.