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Repercussion of Bush visit; US-Indo deal

09 March, 2006

By Farzana Shah


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The fruitless visit of US President Bush to Pakistan ended in a disappointment; however the repercussions of his overall visit will also go a long way for the region in particular and the world in common for many reasons. The US president`s visit to South Asia has cleared the picture to a greater extent vis a vis US future policy for the region specially its policy towards Pakistan is pretty much clear now.

The latest India-US civil nuclear technology accord and renewed offer of sale of F-16 and F-18s to India clearly indicate that US is considering India as a natural ally in the light of its interests in the region hence she is transforming India into a global power. Bush assertion that India and Pakistan have different history and needs (history? probably nuclear history and ostensibly because of non-proliferation concerns) while replying to a query during joint press conference regarding offering similar facility to Pakistan, shows the US following a different frame work for both the countries. We have been made to accept mere rhetorical praises regarding our role and efforts in war on terror which led us to expect more from US while practically we have been ignored. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last Friday also ruled out a similar nuclear technology deal with Pakistan.

Keeping in view the changing geo-political tactics of US,  Pakistan needs to review its policies mainly its cooperation with the US. Looking back at the past record of the US we need to realise before it is too late that US wants to engage us in our internal affairs by fighting war on terror, stabilising Afghanistan for US long-standing interests, while keeping us happy just with the lip service and showering the praises upon us but doing nothing practical on ground. We have been nosed-out for a long now resulting in more damage to us than any gains in this war on terror.
Coming back to the US-India nuclear energy deal--the analysts consider it as a power projection of India. Looking at the energy programmes of India one would easily comprehend that it is quite difficult to separate the programme for the civilian uses from the military use as both had been from the very beginning integrated together into one.

The deal has some immense strategic dimensions which has also been pointed out  by Ashly in his article in the Washington Post. He says,  “although it has been termed for civilian use yet it is aimed at to counter-weigh India against China”.
The deal surely would add to the wide gap of balance of power in the region. According to the reports India has about 250 tons of P239 plutonium which the energy deal would enable her to spare all for `other` nuclear projects. According to an estimate India will be able to produce 50 to 60 Nuke war-heads per year which means she would have a large nuclear arsenal in a few years from now. One wonders as to why the US has indulged in such a deal which would decrease the chances of sale of US weapons once India is able to produce these herself in that quantities. Similarly, the deal besides giving a new context to Pakistan`s quest for the sophisticated conventional weapons, would also affect not only China but also Russia, France, UK Germany etc. There is already a huge imbalance that exists in the conventional capabilities of Pakistan and India and the nuclear deal would compel it to lean more heavily on strengthening the minimum deterrence (clearly nuclear) as an equaliser.  Would it not once again place the contenders at the start line of the arms race track?

On the international front the deal and the visit are going to further polarise the world. Russia still hoping to be a close ally of India and China – as the affected party - must be closely watching the deal, while these developments have certainly provided an opportunity to Pakistan to review its relations with the regional states specially the Russia, China and Iran.

However, we need not be unduly worried that Bush had just taken us for granted,  as one is likely to perceive from his activities here which were unimportant to the extent of  embarrassing us and our government. On the contrary, one should realise that his such useless visit has given us an opportunity to take the stock of the situation in real terms and not rely on the US in matters significant to our national supreme interests. Prudence demands that we look for the alternates around and focus more on China, Russia and the Muslim world as they could be more supportive to us than US in any eventuality. It is also time that we analysed afresh our attitude towards our nuclear programme. So far it has been only a tool for the sub-continental power balance vis a vis India. I think, we should start exploring the possibilities of thermo nuclear explosion and/or  the hydrogen bomb.

India is looking beyond the region as it has almost completed the largest Naval base of Asia at Goa. Coupled with the US offer of F-18s it would extend her reach to the regions far beyond. The world is watching this emerging power with mixed concerns and countries from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia are trying to have good relations with it. We, too, need to look into this aspect. We need to overcome our externalities; gradually decrease our dependence on the US, extricate ourselves from fighting their war on terror. Gradually, mend the fences fully with our neighbours – Kabul and Tehran. We must have the friendliest of the relations with them otherwise we will stand isolated from our all neighbours. In China we have the most dependable and reliable ally. We must not let even a shadow of doubt creep into our crystal clear and highly friendly relationship with them. If US has designs to strengthen India against China, they will have to do much better than that as China will not be alone. And Pakistan, too, will not be alone INSHALLAH.


End.

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