New Balance_Tilted Balance

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 历史回眸 点击:

  Recent moves by the White House have underscored growing complexity―or perhaps flimsiness―of the triangular U.S.-Pakistan-India relationship. Shortly after it received the endorsement from the Congress on nuclear cooperation with India, the Bush administration announced that it would sell sophisticated weapons to Pakistan. Although the connection between the two initiatives was openly denied, the series of moves epitomize Washington’s new policy toward South Asia, argued some Chinese media and experts.
  The White House said on July 3 that it planned to sell Pakistan up to 36 advanced F-16 fighter jets in a weapons package that could be worth more than $5 billion. The proposed sale also includes a support package for up to 26 refurbished F-16s that Pakistan eventually may buy, and upgrades for Pakistan’s current fleet of 34 F-16s.
  The Congress has the power to block or change a proposed sale. But reports say that State Department officials have been conferring privately with members of Congress, apparently finding them receptive to the weapons deal.
  “The sale is part of an effort to broaden our strategic partnership with Pakistan and advance our national security and foreign policy interests in South Asia,” State Department Spokeswoman Julie Reside was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “Pakistan is a long-term partner and major non-NATO ally.”
  Dangerous balance
  Global Times, a Beijing-based newspaper under the patronage of People’s Daily, probed into the multifaceted considerations underlying this deal. First, considered a reward to Pakistan for its support of the U.S. antiterror campaign, the deal also is meant to strengthen the countries’ antiterror alliance. Since the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the Pakistani Government has been fighting against Taliban and Al-Qaeda remnant forces on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, becoming an important antiterror ally of the United States in South Asia. The weapons deal shows that the United States is committed to maintaining a long-term relationship with Pakistan, the article said.
  Second, Washington is maneuvering for greater balance between India and Pakistan. Shortly before U.S. President George W. Bush’s visit to India in March this year, the Pentagon announced that it agreed to sell advanced F-16 and F-18 fighter jets to India. Meanwhile, the two countries signed an agreement on developing civilian nuclear energy, a move that marked Washington’s formal acceptance of India as a nuclear-capable country. The warming of U.S.-India relations caused power-tilting concerns in Pakistan. In order to soothe their antiterror ally, Bush and high-ranking officials in his administration lobbied the Congress and persuaded it to abolish a 15-year-old ban on arms sales to Pakistan.   
  In addition, the article indicated that the United States wanted to get rid of outdated military equipment to prepare for upgrades for its fighter jets, another consideration the article cited as a possible reason for the large arms deal.
  Zhang Lijun, an expert on South Asian affairs at the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), pointed out that despite its balancing acts, Washington is apparently skewed in favor of New Delhi. “The United States hopes to shape India into a major power in South Asia,” he said. “The civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreement is a big gift to India. It will help the country advance its nuclear technology.” Pakistan also showed interest in such an agreement but was rejected by Washington, according to the expert.
  Zhou Rong, Guangming Daily’s correspondent in Islamabad, shared the same view. He commented that the Bush administration knows full well that the United States not only hopes to see a powerful India, but also is worried about the slow pace of India’s growth, which cannot meet U.S. expectations to counteract other emerging powers. It is therefore anxious to offer India exceptional preferences to help it gain strength quickly. However, he warned that these exceptions would give Washington’s efforts to curb Iranian and North Korean nuclear arms the tone of a double standard, making them morally meaningless.
  Zhou noted that the White House should have known that providing nuclear fuels and fighter jets, respectively, to two hostile neighbors could be tantamount to promoting an arms race, heightening insecurity in that region.
  In fact, India voiced disappointment in anticipation of the U.S. announcement of the arms deal. “We can reiterate our position that this step is not conducive to improving ties between India and Pakistan,” Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Navtej Sarna told a news briefing.
  However, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam told ABC Radio Australia: “This is an urgent requirement because we believe that maintaining some sort of credible conventional balance is very important for us. It’s very important for our national security and for peace in this region.”
  Asked to comment on the fact that India is not happy about the deal, Aslam responded by saying that India is purchasing military aircraft from all over the world. “I don’t think India has any local standing to express concern, especially when they have been on a buying spree everywhere,” she said. “Look at the size of their defense budget. Look at the number of military aircraft they have purchased or they are in the process of acquiring.”
  According to Zhang Lijun, given the lingering hostility and distrust between India and Pakistan, the arms deal may fuel regional tension, potentially endangering South Asia.
  Complex triangle
  The interaction between the United States, India and Pakistan is delicate and not without policy adjustments. Zhang of the CIIS reviewed the triangular relationship over the years in an interview with Beijing Review.
  During the Cold War, as India leaned politically toward the Soviet Union, the United States practiced pro-Pakistan policies. It offered up to $600 million in economic and military assistance to the country each year. For many years after the Cold War, as India demonstrated greater potential to become a major country in South Asia, the United States supported India, hoping to turn it into the regional spokesperson. At the same time, it suspended its assistance to Pakistan.
  Zhang recalled that during former President Bill Clinton’s South Asian tour in 2000, he spent four days in India but only four hours in Pakistan, a contrast that highlighted Washington’s skewed stance regarding the two South Asian neighbors.
  Since the September 11 events, there has been mounting urgency for the United States to combat terrorism. As a result, Washington attached great importance to Pakistan’s role in antiterrorism and the reconstruction of its neighbor Afghanistan. In 2004, it named Pakistan a “major non-NATO ally.” Its assistance to the country was restored to the level during the Cold War.
  “Today, the United States follows parallel lines in dealing with the relations with India and Pakistan,” said Zhang. “On the one hand, it hopes to develop closer ties with India to explore its huge market and to contain China’s rise. On the other hand, it is eager to expand cooperation with Pakistan on the front of antiterrorism.”
  Zhang Weiwei, a researcher also at the CIIS, analyzed the prospects of Washington’s relationships with New Delhi and Islamabad in a paper published on the organization’s website. While U.S.-India relations will continue to heat up, it is unlikely that they will enter into an alliance, she argued.
  Citing India’s many political, geopolitical and economic advantages that are attractive to the United States, she predicted that Washington would continue to court and support New Delhi. India, for its part, has the intention of becoming a major power with the help of the United States.
  However, she also noted that the United States has reservations about its own support. While assisting India with its civilian nuclear programs, it also intends to limit the country’s nuclear weapons programs. India, a country that treasures its independence, has tried to reduce its dependence on the United States by negotiating with other countries such as Russia, France and Australia to buy nuclear fuels and technology.
  With regard to U.S.-Pakistan relations, she pointed out that the strategic relations would hopefully be maintained, but the countries would likely not make further breakthroughs. The Washington-Islamabad relationship will be sustained in the coming years partly because antiterrorism is a long-lasting endeavor and Pakistan will be at the forefront of this campaign, she said. The ties also will continue because Pakistan is a crucial link in the Greater Middle East Initiative proposed by the United States.
  However, as their cooperation is limited to security fields and has only slowly expanded to other areas such as economy and trade, the basis for a U.S.-Pakistan bilateral partnership has yet to be consolidated, according to the researcher.
  In addition, Washington faces a dilemma in its policy toward Islamabad, she noted. “In order to combat terrorism, Washington needs the support from the Musharraf government,” she wrote. “However, in an attempt to promote democratic reforms, it has to remove him from power.”

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