Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Shahzadi Zamurred--India-US Defense Pact & Its Dimensions

Shahzadi Zamurred
Lecturer
College of Lahore

The U.S. and India signed a 10 year defense pact on 29th June 2005, which is known as the “New Frame work for US-India Relationship” (NFDR). The pact was signed between the US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and India’s Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee, during his visit to Washington. As a follow-up, the Indian prime-Minister Manmohan Singh visited US from 18 to 20th July.
The pact deals with issues of cooperation on missile defense, joint weapons production, and transfer of sensitive military technology. Prime Minister Manmohan said that “the US and India have entered a new era, we are transforming our relationship to reflect our common principles and shared national interests”. The observers are of the view that this pact will not only help to enhance military capabilities of India but will also unwrap new horizon for trade between the two countries. This new agreement would provide new frame work for the U.S.-Indian defense relationship. Through this pact the Indians will get U.S. concessions on nuclear and space technology transfer to India. The pact also has economic & cultural dimensions, inducted in the historical and geo-political logistics. It will boost the security initiative, which in turn will open the ways for the co-operative military “research development, testing and evaluation.” The NFDR envisages joint and combined exercises and exchanges between the both sides for navel pilot training. The U.S. had imposed the restrictions for such interactions, after India conducted nuclear tests in 1998 and became a non-declared nuclear state. Defence Minister Mukherjee had said, in his speech in Washington “I feel there is a possibility of a change.” He told reporters that he is expecting that the military technology restrictions should be dropped, otherwise these barriers will diminish further trust and co-operation growth.
It seems that the defense pact between India and the U.S. is the result of the American anxiety over the increase of the Chinese power. It also appears that the relations between the two nations are designed in the same manner as during the cold war was between the United States and Pakistan. As for China’s geo-political issues are concerned, both China and India require fuel resources for their growing and rapidly industrializing economies. Both also need to have oil from the Middle East. Both will be monitoring the Strait of Malacca, as an economic lifeline.
The U.S. can gain another adventure through its well placed strategic position with India. The U.S. companies will prefer to go where they will find the greatest and easiest opportunities to make money. India provides opportunities for enhancement of U.S. competitiveness through outsourcing and expansion of market. It is in the vital interest of the U.S. to help India expand its markets and that India to become an alternative to China, as a manufacturing hub. Those mutual interests make both countries move towards each other, which was not so during the cold war period. On the other hand, India has to keep in mind that the U.S. is against Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline. Moreover, India is still heavily committed to buy the Russian military equipment, and to develop new weapons with the help of the Russians.
During Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, visit to India in March 2005, the United States discussed ways to assist India, to become a major world power in the 21st century. In "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America" released in September 2002, President Bush said: "The United States has undertaken a transformation in its bilateral relationship with India based on a conviction that U.S. interests require a strong relationship with India. We are the two largest democracies, committed to political freedom protected by representative government. India is moving toward greater economic freedom as well. We have a common interest in the free flow of commerce, including through the vital sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. Finally, we share an interest in fighting terrorism and in creating a strategically stable Asia”. This indicates the further strategy of U.S., which is to set its influence felt in South Asia. History shows that the Americans have always been concerned for its Geo-Political significance, in the region.
On the other hand, if we look at the strategic equilibrium of South Asia we realize that it continues on the verge of destabilization. Pakistan has serious reservations with the defense pact for joint weapons production between India and U.S. At the time when Pak-India relations are moving for betterment, the pact will definitely have a negative effect. Some of the steps that Pakistan and India have taken to defuse tensions are as follows: First, the Pakistani and Indian officials held talks on nuclear confidence-building measures (NCBMs) to promote nuclear risk reduction and to finalize a draft agreement on pre-notification of missiles testing by them in Islamabad, last December. Second, they are discussing a proposal to cut troop on the Siachen glacier, the world’s coldest and highest battlefield. Third, the issue of Kashmir is also seen as moving ahead. In this context, the spokesmen of Pakistan said that Pakistan has already conveyed its concern to the U.S. over “negative consequence of the induction of new weapon system” such as missiles defense. Pakistan’s priority is to ensure its defense capabilities and respond appropriately to put right any imbalance.
We must remember that power attracts power; but when a less powerful state is favored by a developed state, then it’s clear and obvious that the particular state has some peculiar interests.
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