US-Pakistan F-16 Deal: Indian EAM Jaishankar Throws a Tantrum
“You’re not fooling anybody by saying these things," said Indian External Affairs Minister Subramanian Jaishankar to his American hosts in Washington. He was lashing out at the United States for the State Department's explanation for the $450 million F-16 "sustainment" package sale to Pakistan. Earlier, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in an announcement:
“This proposed sale ($450 million F-16 package) will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by allowing Pakistan to retain interoperability with US and partner forces in ongoing counter-terrorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations.” The US State Department spokesman Ned Price talked about "shared values" and "shared interests" of his country with both India and Pakistan. He also recommended that "these two neighbors have relations with one another that are as constructive as can be possible".
|US Secretary of State Tony Blinken (L), Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar|
Responding to Jaishankar's outburst, the US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “We don’t view our relationship with Pakistan, and … our relationship with India as in relation to one another. These are both partners of ours with different points of emphasis in each. We look at both as partners, because we do have in many cases shared values. We do have in many cases shared interests. And the relationship we have with India stands on its own. The relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own. We also want to do everything we can to see to it that these neighbors have relations with one another that are as constructive as can be possible. And so that’s another point of emphasis.”
|President Joe Biden & First Lady Jill with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif at the UN HQ|
Writing an Op Ed for The Indian Express about Jaishankar's fit of anger, Indian journalist Nirupama Subramanian put it in the following words: “As Delhi demonstrates “strategic autonomy” to engage with every side — Quad one week, and Russia and China the next at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand — and work around Western sanctions to buy oil from Russia, and keep friends in all camps, it may have to come to terms that others in world play the same game.”
|US Visa Appointment Wait Time. Source: US State Department|
Jaishankar also raised the issue of long appointment wait times for Indians seeking visas to come to the United States. "In India, there are families unable to meet; students waiting for a long time. So it is a serious problem. But, I'm confident that, with the sincerity Secretary Blinken showed, they would address this, and with any support that we can provide, we hope things will improve," he said. Secretary Anthony Blinken said in response, "We had constraints from COVID about the number of people we could have in our embassies at any one time etc. We are now building back very determined really from that surging resources. We have a plan when it comes to India to address the backlog of visas that have built up. I think you'll see that play out in the coming months."
|US Visa Appointment Wait Time. Source: US State Department|
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PUBLISHED WED, SEP 28 20228:26 PM EDT
Lee Ying Shan
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have publicly rebuked Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine, but the longstanding friendship between the two countries isn’t going away, analysts said.
“India is in a unique position where it needs Russia in the short term to manage China,” said Harsh V. Pant, vice president of studies and foreign policy at Observer Research Foundation, a Delhi-based think tank.
“The bulk of India’s conventional weapons are sourced from Russia,” said Sameer Lalwani, a senior expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace. ”[This] means that it relies heavily on Russia for force sustainment including spares, maintenance, and upgrades for years.
Ties will ‘endure for decades’
India’s longstanding friendship with Russia isn’t going away — and that’s thanks to its military dependence, according to Lalwani.
“Even while India seeks greater indigenization of its defense capabilities, absent a stunning and financially exorbitant overhaul of its force structure, it will continue to depend on Russian arms, munitions, and subcomponents for decades,” said Lalwani.
He added that India’s exports of cruise missiles to Southeast Asian states cannot function without Russian propulsion systems.
“Even if the India-Russia military relationship is on the downswing, it will still endure for decades.”
This week, Americans are understandably focused on the hurricane-related flooding in Florida, which is causing tragedy for thousands. Yet there is little attention in the United States to the fact that Pakistan has been flooded since mid-June, a catastrophe that is still causing unspeakable suffering for tens of millions.
Both of these crises owe much to the same phenomenon — climate change. But aside from some limited aid, there’s scant U.S.-Pakistan cooperation on long-term solutions. That has to change, according to Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who was in the United States this week pitching his proposal for a “Green Marshall Plan.” In meetings with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and others, Zardari argued for a way those countries most responsible for climate change can help those countries most affected — and, in turn, help themselves.
It’s a big idea, and there are reasons for skepticism. But considering the global nature of the climate challenge, at some point the United States and Pakistan must find the courage to work together. In the process, the two countries might find a way back to being true allies, which would benefit both sides and balance China’s rising influence in the South Asia region.
“We have to find the opportunity in this crisis,” Zardari told me. “There are two ways of us going forward. We can do this dirtier, badly, in a way that will be worse for us and worse for the environment, or we can try to build back better in a greener, more climate-resilient manner.”
Zardari’s call for a “Green Marshall Plan” is meant to evoke America’s historical penchant for pursuing its enlightened self-interest. The idea also plays into President Biden’s own Build Back Better World concept. The theory is that Western government support for private-sector investment in climate-resilient, ecologically sustainable infrastructure in Pakistan would redound to the benefit of Western industry and help mitigate the future climate-related crises that are sure to come.
Florida will have several days of rain. In Pakistan, it rained for more than three months, submerging one-third of the country in a body of water than can be seen from space. The high floodwaters have created a cascade of problems, devastating Pakistan’s agriculture, manufacturing, trade and public health sectors.
Floods are almost a perennial occurrence in Pakistan, but this year’s continuing disaster is uniquely cataclysmic, impacting more than 33 million people (more than Florida’s entire population), including 16 million children and more than 600,000 pregnant women, according to the United Nations.
The flood and its aftereffects also risk throwing Pakistan right back into the economic crisis it was clawing its way out of. Pakistan was already on the hook to pay back $1 billion of the $10 billion it owes the Paris Club by the end of this year. Islamabad also owes some $30 billion to China. Now the country is being forced to borrow billions more to deal with the current situation.
The real question, Zardari said, is not whether the international community will come through with short-term aid and debt relief. The challenge is for the world to realize that Pakistan’s flood crisis won’t be the last or the worst, meaning the international response must take a far broader view.
In a world where covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine war and the worldwide economic slowdown are commanding the attention of policymakers in Western capitals, the bandwidth for new and expensive ideas is narrow. Zardari knows it’s a tough sell.
In a world where covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine war and the worldwide economic slowdown are commanding the attention of policymakers in Western capitals, the bandwidth for new and expensive ideas is narrow. Zardari knows it’s a tough sell.
“I understand that the concept of a Green Marshall Plan might not have many players. But that doesn’t change the fact that I believe it genuinely is the solution,” he said. “We have to pause our geopolitical differences and unite to face this existential threat to mankind.”
The concept of investing in green infrastructure in a coordinated, global way is not new; but under the current plans, it’s not happening. Global promises to invest $100 billion in the Green Climate Fund for developing countries by 2020 have been broken.
And while humanitarian aid is not primarily about strategic competition, it is worth noting that China has its own project called the Green Silk Road, and that Beijing is pushing propaganda in Pakistan claiming it is more generous than the United States (which is not true). The need to counter Chinese influence was a big reason the White House hosted leaders of 14 Pacific Island nations this week, all of which are suffering disproportionately from climate change.
In Washington, Pakistan has become something of a pariah, following years of disagreements over Afghanistan and other issues. But the end of that war provides an opening for a rethink. To be sure, Pakistan’s democracy looks shaky at times — but then again, so does America’s. The two allies still share many long-term interests, and saving the planet should be at the top of the list.
The violence that erupted two weeks ago between Muslims and Hindus in the English city of Leicester, home to a large population of Britons with South Asian ancestry, appears at last to be dying down as police flood the streets. It began with brawls and quickly escalated into attacks on mosques and temples.
Events in faraway Leicester bear on Banyan’s Asian preoccupations, largely because of the reaction of the government of India. Its high commission in London condemned the “violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and vandalisation of premises and symbols of [the] Hindu religion”, but, pointedly, did not condemn Hindus’ violence against Muslims.
Admittedly, Pakistan decried a “systematic campaign” of violence and intimidation against Muslims. But then Pakistan, a state founded on putting Islam (and by extension communalism) at its core, would look after its own, wouldn’t it? The Indian state, by contrast, long sought to represent a secular ideal that rose above communal divisions.
That ideal also informed the internationalist, inclusionary rhetoric of India’s foreign policy. The notable omissions in the Indian High Commission’s statement are indicative of a break in policy since the rise to power in 2014 of Narendra Modi, the prime minister. He is cheerleader-in-chief for Hindutva, a strident form of Hindu nativism promoted by his Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp).
The Indian government’s response was notable in another respect. Most of Leicester’s South Asian Muslims have their ancestral roots not in Pakistan but, like its Hindus, within the borders of India itself. Mukul Kesavan, an Indian writer, writes that to identify only with its Hindus “is to withdraw...the ancestral claim to India from the Muslims of Leicester.”
This is all of a piece with the bjp’s majoritarian approach at home, where Hindus constitute four-fifths of the country’s 1.4bn people and Muslims about one-seventh. Islamophobia is rampant among bjp stalwarts (though Mr Modi usually carries a dog whistle). When Hindus and Muslims have clashed in Delhi or in bjp-ruled states, authorities have bulldozed Muslim homes in retribution. Mr Modi’s Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 grants Indian citizenship to refugees from neighbouring countries—so long as they are not Muslim.
As Mr Kesavan argues, standing up for Hindus abroad bolsters Mr Modi’s standing among Hindus at home. Mr Modi has long understood this aspect of personal power. Before the pandemic he staged huge rallies for the Indian diaspora in America and Britain. On visits abroad he pointedly combines diplomacy with prayer. Mr Modi paints India as a kind of Hindu Zion.
In the American capital this week the foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, lambasted those supposedly spreading false views of India, such as the Washington Post. He defended the government’s suspension of the rule of law and the internet in majority-Muslim Kashmir as motivated only by pure intentions. The minister is representative of Hindutva at the heart of the foreign-policy establishment. A paper in International Affairs, an academic journal, by Kira Huju of Oxford University describes how Indian diplomats hewing to the secular, internationalist line have been squeezed out, silenced or marginalised in favour of hardline hacks. Not only that, diplomats abroad must now promote a Hindu-inflected alternative medicine known as Ayurveda, as well as take instruction in the promotion and practice of yoga.
In the first such move against oil shipments to India, the U.S. Treasury department announced it had imposed sanctions against a Mumbai based petrochemical company amongst several entities accused of selling Iranian petroleum products.
The company, Mumbai based Tibalaji in particular that was accused purchasing shipments that were then sent to China, is the first Indian entity to face the U.S. designation under unilateral sanctions passed in 2018-19, after the U.S. Trump administration’s decision to walk out of the nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. While India has officially refused to endorse the “unilateral sanctions” of the U.S., the Modi government agreed to end all oil imports from Iran in 2019, that made up about 11% of India’s intake, rather than face the sanctions.
Announcing the move on Thursday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it had sanctioned the “international network of companies” that were involved in the sale of “hundreds of millions of dollars” worth Iranian petrochemical products to South Asia and East Asia.
“Today’s action targets Iranian brokers and several front companies in the UAE, Hong Kong, and India that have facilitated financial transfers and shipping of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products,” the treasury department said, accusing the sanctioned companies of “concealing the origin” of the shipments from Iran.
“India-based petrochemical company Tibalaji Petrochem Private Limited has purchased millions of dollars’ worth of Triliance-brokered petrochemical products, including methanol and base oil, for onward shipment to China,” the Treasury statement added, explaining that any U.S.-based assets owned by the sanctioned entities in the U.S. will be blocked, while personnel dealing with the Iranian shipments would also face “enforcement action”.
The U.S. claimed that the Indian company had worked with sanctioned entities like Triliance, a petroleum and petrochemical brokerage firm, as well as Iran Chemical Industries Investment Company and Middle East Kimiya Pars Co., for oil orders which were “ultimately shipped to India”.
Neither the Ministry of External Affairs, nor Tibalaji Petrochemicals responded to requests for a comment on the U.S. decision, that came a day after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar concluded his visit to the U.S., where he met several senior officials including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The Iranian embassy said it had no knowledge of any Indian company that was “registered to deal with such businesses”. However, a diplomat familiar with the issue said that the U.S. move was “hostile”, and called the sanctions “illegal”. The diplomat said, “Iran has never taken permission from the U.S. and accordingly it will adopt any necessary measure to ensure its legal rights and national interests.”
“Today we took further actions to disrupt efforts to evade sanctions on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products,” Mr. Blinken tweeted. When asked, neither the MEA nor U.S. officials commented on whether Mr. Blinken had discussed the impending sanctions with Mr. Jaishankar in Washington.
China and India, key partners to Russia, have recently expressed concerns to Putin about the war.
Putin on Friday declared four regions of Ukraine part of Russia, a move rejected by the West.
In a UN vote condemning the annexation as illegal, China and India both abstained.
Pakistan’s old F-16s pose no threat to India, given their use is restricted to counterterrorism efforts within its borders and are considered inferior to the newer JF-17s, jointly developed with China
The deal to maintain the F-16s may well be a response to the resurgence in terrorism spilling over from Afghanistan after the US withdrawal
India and Pakistan have been engaged in yet more angry exchanges of late – but, this time, on a matter other than the routine and threadbare allegations of sponsoring terrorism in each other’s territories.
The latest episode kicked off on September 7, when the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency said it was considering a US$450 million military deal with Pakistan to upgrade its F-16 fighter jet programme, including the engines, electronic warfare and other related hardware, software and spare parts.
The deal, since approved, covers the technical maintenance and overhauling of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet, which is now more than three decades old. Few analysts expected it to turn into a rancorous diplomatic scuffle between New Delhi and Islamabad.
But the matter was abruptly pushed into the limelight when Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar responded caustically to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s remarks on the Pakistan arms deal.
Blinken had said the US deal was part of an initiative to boost Pakistan’s “capability to deal with terrorist threats emanating from Pakistan or from the region”.
Jaishankar, at an unofficial event in Washington, said: “For someone to say, ‘I am doing this because it is all counterterrorism content’ … you are not fooling anybody by saying these things.”
To no one’s surprise, Jaishankar’s remarks sparked a severe reaction from Islamabad and clarification from Blinken, who reasserted categorically that the package did not include any new capabilities, weapons or munitions.
Three key points are noteworthy, regardless of the ongoing arguments between India and Pakistan, that make Jaishankar’s statement look more like habitual rhetoric than genuine concern. First, since the 1980s when the United States handed over the first batch of F-16s to Pakistan, none has been used in a war or an operation against any country, including India.
Indeed, the F-16s have only ever been deployed in counterterrorism operations within the country. And the only time they have been used extensively by the Pakistan Air Force has been against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists in the volatile Swat Valley region bordering Afghanistan.
Before 2014, the Pakistani government exerted little control in the Swat Valley and its adjacent areas, which were in the hands of the TPP and other militant groups, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Turkestan Islamic Movement and the Haqqani network. With an alliance of these groups ruling the area, almost a million residents were forced to move to other parts of Pakistan.
In July 2014, Pakistan’s army and air force jointly launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a massive anti-terrorism campaign to free the Swat valley and surrounding area from control of the militants.
Due to the region’s mountainous geography, it would have been practically impossible for the ground forces to complete the task without aerial support to attack the terrorist hideouts. And the F-16 Falcons, the only advanced fighter jets in the air force at that time, were more than capable of precision attacks on the militants’ base camps.
Thus, the F-16s played a major role in the success of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, and the restoration of control of the region by the Pakistani government.
In 2021, however, with the arrival of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the militant groups began to penetrate the Swat valley, Bajaur, Mohmand and North Waziristan areas again and set about relaunching their terrorist activities.
In the past six months, more than 250 terrorist attacks carried out by the TTP have been reported in the area. And, indeed, perhaps it is this resurgence of the TTP and terrorist-related activities that has led the Biden administration to agree to the deal to maintain Pakistan’s F-16 fleet. New Delhi is also well aware that Pakistan needs refurbished F-16s to tackle terrorism in this part of the country.
The second point is that Pakistan’s air force is no longer dependent on F-16s and has been shifting its operational load to its fleet of JF-17 Thunders – fighter jets jointly developed by China and Pakistan. Today, Pakistan has an operational fleet of 134 JF-17s, compared with just 75 F-16s.
From the air force’s perspective, and given its current needs, the JF-17 is far superior and its reliance on them will only increase. The US deal to provide maintenance support for the ageing F-16 fleet will not render them any more of a threat to India.
Finally, Islamabad and Washington have specifically agreed that the F-16s cannot be used for any offensive purpose outside Pakistan’s airspace.
So India has nothing to worry about with this latest maintenance deal. If anything, New Delhi should perhaps be more concerned about the growing cooperation between Pakistan and China on the JF-17, which is being continuously improved by joint research and development teams.
India’s foreign minister knows very well that his protests over the US package are merely part of diplomatic formalities, and that he is unlikely to receive a positive response from the Biden administration – which is more concerned about containing the mess it left behind following the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is now once again spilling over into northern Pakistan.
October 02, 2022 Wajahat S. Khan
After years of favoring New Delhi, the US is now back to balancing between India and Pakistan.
The decade-long deterioration of ties with Islamabad, propelled by Pakistan’s support for the Taliban in Afghanistan and tilt toward China, had shaped Washington’s conventional thinking into a neat binary: that a democratic, anti-China India is ‘in’ and an autocratic, pro-China Pakistan is ‘out’ of the American camp.
That’s no longer the case in America’s response to India’s consistent hedging and betting on Russia, as well as Pakistan’s diplomatic overtures and counterterrorism cooperation. Indeed, the future of US positioning in South Asia seems to be shifting, as Washington resumes playing ball with both nuclear-armed rivals like it’s done for decades.
America’s pal, but Russia’s BFF. On Saturday, India abstained from voting for a US-sponsored UN Security Council resolution slamming Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory. This wasn’t the first time the Indians have refused to back the Americans — every UN resolution tabled against Russian aggression in Ukraine since the beginning of the war has seen India walk away from the crime scene.
For India watchers who acknowledge New Delhi’s stated policy of strategic autonomy — basically a we-will-do-the-right-thing-but-in-our-own-way approach to a values-based order — the latest abstention was a disappointment, coming just days after PM Narendra Modi was praised by Washington for lecturing Vladimir Putin about this not being “an era of war.”
Although Indian diplomats insist that dialogue is the only answer to settling disputes, Modi’s government is now being criticized even at home for speaking from both sides of its mouth, especially as the war takes on a nuclear dimension.
The frustration is premised on a contradiction. Though it is still counted as a strategic partner of the US and an important teammate on the Quad, India’s decades-long defense ties with Moscow continue to thrive.
The Indians are shoring up the Russian economy by buying more fossil fuels (albeit at steep discounts). This year, oil imports are up thirty-fold from 2021, and coal purchases have quadrupled. Meanwhile, the Indians remain Moscow’s biggest arms customer and continue buying sophisticated Russian weapons despite the risk of triggering US sanctions.
This attitude of sacrifice-rules-for-money by India shows that “since Russia invaded Ukraine, Modi and his government have become ultra-realist on foreign policy,” says Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation.
The Indians, he explains, “have refused to condemn Russian aggression and its undermining of the rules-based international order, which New Delhi claims to uphold along with like-minded democratic states,” he said. Rather, India has prioritized discounted Russian oil — a business over values approach — which doesn't say much about India’s commitment to the rules-based system that it claims to support.
Pakistan as Plan B? But Washington isn’t just sitting pretty watching India play both sides. Responding to New Delhi’s hedging through its own, the US is gearing up to balance the military relationship with Islamabad.
After suspending all military aid in 2018 due to Pakistan’s support for the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US State Department reversed course last month, resuming critical military assistance to Islamabad. India, of course, is up in arms. After all, the F-16 fighter-bomber — which the Americans are servicing for the Pakistanis — was used to shoot down at least one Indian Air Force MiG-21 in 2019.
October 02, 2022 Wajahat S. Khan
While the State Department has pushed back against India’s protests by saying it values its relations with both sides, Pakistan seems to have been let out of Washington’s doghouse. Last week, State fêted Pakistan’s foreign minister for a week-long sojourn, topped with a ceremony commemorating 75 years of diplomatic ties at the Museum of American Diplomacy. (His Indian counterpart — who was in town around the same time complaining about the Pakistani weapons deal — was also given the royal treatment, with a dinner at Blinken’s home.)
As far as the Pakistanis are concerned, the boys are back in town. This week, the Pentagon is hosting Pakistan’s all-powerful army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, who played a crucial role in the ousting of former prime minister Imran Khan, an anti-American populist. On Gen. Bajwa’s agenda: Pakistani support for Washington’s over-the-horizon counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, as well as grappling with the Taliban, ISIS-K and al-Qaida.
“The US seems to be finally recognizing that despite the full-throated pronouncements from New Delhi about a rules-based international order, India’s need for cheap Russian oil and Russian weapons override everything else,” says Uzair Younis, director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council.
Given this context, he adds, Washington is finally realizing that it must also pursue “a parallel diplomatic path with Pakistan, especially given that New Delhi is unlikely to be weaned off its addiction to Russian energy and weapons any time soon.”
However, India will remain important for America. Surely, this maneuvering hasn’t ruptured the proximity between Washington and New Delhi – China remains their common rival, after all — but it is being seen as a tactical response to India’s dealing with the Russians.
Plus, after years of increasing dependency on China, the Pakistanis are only too eager to balance their interests with Washington, but only till the Chinese come back to them with a better offer for their rentier state.
Also, the resumption of US military aid to Pakistan — still paltry compared to America’s broad defense, economic and tech ties with India — has not disturbed India’s standing as a “strategic partner,” Still, since Washington’s recent moves have clearly irked New Delhi, are they going to reset US priorities in South Asia?
“One of the enduring challenges for the US-India relationship is that each country insists on maintaining cordial ties with the other’s key rival,” says Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center.
This problem appeared to be working itself out in recent years, as India reduced its share of Russian arms imports and the US cut off security aid to Pakistan. But now we are seeing a return to what Kugelman calls the “old normal” — India reasserting its friendship with Russia and the US restarting security ties with Pakistan.
“At the end of the day, neither New Delhi nor Washington are willing to let go of these longstanding relationships,” he explains.
Still, what the Americans are doing to the Indians — a diplomatic tit-for-tat, really — makes the long-term trajectory of India-Russia and US-Pakistan relations more unsettled than that of US-India relations.
For Kugmelman, “they’re still realities in the here and now. It’s little more than a nuisance for US-India relations, but a nuisance nonetheless.”
Bottom line: The Pakistanis might be back in play in Washington, but India’s not getting on any American blacklist anytime soon. Regardless, the US has put on its Great Power suit, and sent New Delhi a bill about the cost of doing business with the Russians.
With the JF-17 Block 3 fighter unveiled in December 2019, and expected to enter service from around 2022, the aircraft will outperform all existing Pakistani fighters, the F-16C included, by a considerable margin. While the new aircraft has a new engine and makes more use of light composite materials for a superior flight performance, including the ability to exceed Mach 2 speeds, the platform’s most significant improvements are arguably those made to its beyond visual range capabilities. The JF-17 Block 3’s avionics are nothing less than state of the art, with a heads up display, a full glass cockpit and new single panel multi functional display, and the aircraft also integrates a powerful AESA radar - possibly the KLJ-7A. An AESA radar will be key to the JF-17 Block 3’s performance, and its sophistication will compensate for the relatively small size of the radar the fighter can accommodate and provide the situational awareness needed to make effective use of longer ranged munitions such as the PL-15 air to air missile. This missile has approximately double the range of the AIM-120C used by the F-16C - approximately 200km where the AIM-120 is restricted to around 105km. The PL-15 has been integrated onto China’s new generation of fighters which all integrate AESA radars, the J-20, J-16, and J-10C, and has reportedly begun integration onto older designs such as the J-11B.
Advantages of integrating an AESA radar not only allows the JF-17 Block 3 to detect targets at far longer ranges, and to track and lock onto more targets simultaneously, but its is also less prone to jamming and leaves a far lower radar signature - meaning it is both more reliable and makes the fighter more difficult to detect. Alongside state of the art Chinese electronic warfare systems, and what appears to be a radar cross section reducing profile, a combination of modern avionics, and AESA radar and PL-15 missiles will make the JF-17 Block 3 an extremely lethal fighter for beyond visual range combat considerably more capable than any fighter currently in Pakistani service including the F-16. While some more sophisticated variants of the F-16 can boast capabilities which rival the JF-17 Block 3, namely the F-16E and F-2, only two countries operate these aircraft which have not been made available to the vast majority of clients. Compared to the JF-17 Block 3, the F-16C is expected to have a slower speed, lower sortie rate, lower operational altitude, poorer situational awareness and electronic warfare capabilities, inferior anti shipping capabilities and a considerably lower air to air engagement range. The JF-17 Block 3 is thus expected to form the elite of the Pakistani fleet, and have considerable export success to a range of interested clients such as Egypt and Myanmar. A more ambitious light fighter project is currently under way to succeed the JF-17 Block 3, the Project AZM stealth fighter program, which is also being pursued jointly by China and Pakistan.
by Jack Iraboh
The Aselpod is almost certainly in service with the Nigerian Air Force. (Aselsan)
A Nigerian Air Force (NAF) JF-17 Thunder multirole fighter has been seen carrying what is almost certainly an Aselpod targeting pod made by Turkish company Aselsan.
A short clip posted on social media on 14 August showed a Nigerian JF-17 with the number 720 taxiing with a dark grey pod on its centreline hardpoint.
Earlier this year, a photograph emerged showing a man next to a JF-17 carrying a targeting pod with an air intake on its starboard side that looked more like the one on the Aselpod than the smaller intakes on the Chinese WMD-7 targeting pod that has also been integrated with the aircraft.
The man, evidently not Nigerian, wore a badge with the Pakistani flag and what appeared to be ‘Aselpod' written on it. However, his cap had the name of the NAF's 131 Engineering Group on it, indicating he was helping that unit with the new pod.
Aselsan integrated the Aselpod on the Pakistan Air Force's JF-17s under a contract that was first reported in 2017. The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex delivered the three JF-17s ordered by the NAF in March 2021.
The photograph also showed a bomb with a laser-guidance kit on one of the JF-17's wings. This could be an Mk 82 fitted with a GBU-12 Paveway II kit as the United States approved the sale of these weapons to Nigeria along with the 12 A-29 Super Tucano turboprop aircraft that were delivered to the NAF in 2021.
Though ties between China and Pakistan began in the wake of the 1962 Sino-Indian clash, China did not embrace the relationship. By the mid-2000s, the shift in U.S.-India relations and China's own global ambitions made Pakistan a critical partner for China.
Article by Manjari Chatterjee Miller
On a visit to China almost a decade ago, I had a conversation with a Beijing-based Chinese foreign policy analyst. The subject of China’s relationship with Pakistan came up and the analyst laughed ruefully. Although he acknowledged Pakistan saw the bilateral relationship as a valuable friendship, he implied that was not how China saw it. China was in some ways reluctant, I gathered, even to be seen as cultivating a friendship with Pakistan. At the time, the idea of taoguang yanghui (hide your strength and bide your time) still held sway in China, and the Chinese government was not only wary of being seen as an international spoiler state but also siding with one. China saw no need to trumpet the relationship, and Pakistan needed China more than the other way around.
Pakistan is now an important partner for China. The relationship raises the specter that India may, in the future, face a two-front war, a scenario that would have been implausible a decade ago. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and embassies in South Asia often tweet sympathetically about the relationship—including on topics such as Pakistan’s welcome of the Chinese-sponsored Global Security Initiative, China-Pakistan football matches, China’s flood aid, and pandemic cooperation. At an MFA press conference earlier this year, the spokesperson gushed that, “the bond of friendship and mutual assistance between the Chinese and Pakistani people is stronger than gold, and the two countries’ iron-clad friendship is deeply rooted in the people and boasts strong vitality.”
This is not to say the relationship is problem-free. China’s wariness about Islamist militants in Xinjiang and their links to Pakistani militants, its concern about Chinese citizens working in Pakistan who have been the targets of terror attacks, the sporadic opposition in Pakistan to CPEC projects, and China’s caution about weighing in on Kashmir (despite its recent condemnation of India’s abrogation of Article 370 and Wang Yi’s reference to the territory at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting) all continue to be sticking points. Yet this is no longer just a relationship, but a genuine partnership. India should take note.
India’s September imports of Russian oil rose 18.5% from August after falling for two months, making it the country’s second-largest crude supplier after Saudi Arabia, according to energy cargo tracker Vortexa. The import of 879,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Russian oil in September is the second highest in a month ever for India after June’s 933,000 bpd.
“India may consider importing more Russian crude this quarter as refiners ramp up runs to meet the seasonal rise in domestic demand an ..
This apparent contradiction exemplifies India’s unique position on the war: verbally distancing itself from Russia, while continuing to maintain pivotal ties with Moscow.
Modi’s “stronger language to Putin” should be seen in the context of rising food, fuel and fertilizer prices, and the “hardships that was creating for other countries,” said Deepa Ollapally, research professor and director of the Rising Powers Initiative at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University.
“There’s a certain level of impatience (for India) with the intensification of the war,” she said. “There’s a feeling that Putin is pushing India’s limits because in some ways, it’s put itself out on a limb. And it’s not a comfortable position for India to be in.”
When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Vladimir Putin “today’s era is not of war” last month, the West welcomed his comments as a sign the world’s largest democracy was finally coming off the fence about Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron praised Modi and the White House lauded what it called a “statement of principle.”
But the reality, analysts say, is less straightforward.
Rather than cutting economic ties with the Kremlin, India has undermined Western sanctions by increasing its purchases of Russian oil, coal and fertilizer – giving Putin a vital financial lifeline.
New Delhi has repeatedly abstained from votes condemning Russia at the United Nations – providing Moscow with a veneer of international legitimacy. And in August, India participated in Russia’s large-scale Vostok military exercises alongside China, Belarus, Mongolia and Tajikistan – where Moscow paraded its vast arsenal.
Last week, India abstained from another UN draft resolution condemning Russia over its sham referendums in four regions of Ukraine, which have been used as a pretext by Moscow to illegally annex Ukrainian territory – significantly upping the stakes in the war.
India is “deeply disturbed” by the developments in Ukraine, said Ruchira Kamboj, New Delhi’s permanent representative to the UN, but stopped short of attributing blame and urged an “immediate ceasefire and resolution of the conflict.”
‘A tale of two Indias’
As Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border in December last year, Modi welcomed Putin in New Delhi during the 21st India-Russia Annual Summit.
“My dear friend, President Vladimir Putin,” Modi said, “your attachment with India and your personal commitment symbolize the importance of India-Russia relations and I am very grateful to you for that.”
New Delhi has strong ties with Moscow dating back to the Cold War, and India remains heavily reliant on the Kremlin for military equipment – a vital link given India’s ongoing tensions at its shared Himalayan border with an increasingly assertive China.
But according to analysts, India is concerned that Putin’s increasing isolation could draw Moscow closer to Beijing – and that requires India to tread carefully.
New Delhi’s contorted maneuvering in its stance on Russia’s aggression in Ukraine was on show when, alongside China, it took part in Russia’s Vostok military exercises – a move attacked by its Western partners.
“This can be seen as a tale of two Indias,” said Ollapally. “On the one hand, they are pushing back against China and then exercising along with China and Russia, giving Russia a certain amount of legitimacy.”
Russia is India's second largest oil supplier, contribution to Indian imports now 21% , up from 1% before Ukraine war
Shishir Gupta: "It is quite evident that the rise of India will not be benign and will be contested both by the West as much as by the East. India should be prepared to go solo." https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/from-f-16-upgrades-to-ajk-has-us-pak-relations-rekindled-again-101664774068473.html
From F-16 upgrades to AJK, have US-Pak relations rekindled again?
By Shishir Gupta
It is quite evident from the chain of events that the US wants to shore up the Shehbaz Sharif regime and Pakistan economically so that an opportunistic Imran Khan, who weaponised a diplomatic cipher into an anti-US campaign before his government was ousted, never comes back to power. The so-called diplomatic cipher has apparently gone missing from the prime minister’s office in Islamabad and perhaps is in the custody of the Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Jawed Bajwa in Rawalpindi.
New Delhi has taken note of all these events and senior officials believe that the transactional relationship between US and major non-NATO ally has been kick-started again. And Pakistan’s proven ability to do a strategic U-turn, produce and expose a top terrorist from its tactical locker be it Ayman Al Zawahiri and its ability to play both China and US to its short-term advantage remains quite unmatched.
Unlike Pakistan, India under Narendra Modi with its civilization, culture, and history, stands up for its national interest be it on Ukraine war and global good like Climate Change. It is quite clear that Pakistan will use the F-16 upgrades including air-to-air missiles against India and not against any third country.
Fact is that the US transactional relationship with Pakistan pays off in the long run as it can sell top of the line weapons and life-cycle maintenance to Rawalpindi unlike India which wants full transfer of technology for any acquired hardware platform from America.
Given that Pakistan needs US help to secure a multi-billion IMF loan to repay Chinese debt incurred on white elephant projects at exorbitant interest rates, the US-Pak relationship will deepen in future with Islamabad asking no questions. The US defence assistance to Pakistan came at a time when Islamabad needed money for providing flood relief.
While India knows that US needs New Delhi and vice versa on Indo-Pacific to counter a belligerent China, it is also aware that America continues to look the other way when it comes to proscribed Khalistani SFJ organisation and its leader who spews venom against India just as Pakistanis continue to send terrorists to India to cause mayhem.
The same is the situation with US allies Canada and UK with the latter being the principal advisor to Washington on Af-Pak region with strong bias towards Pakistan. One must not forget that disastrous role played by UK Chief of Defence Staff Nick Carter in getting the Taliban regime installed and US forces unceremoniously kicked out of Kabul.
Although India and the US share a robust bilateral relationship with deep sharing of intelligence and mutually beneficial information and high end technology, the Indian diaspora is now wondering whether citizens of a friendly power must wait for over 800 days to get a US visa.
It is quite evident that the rise of India will not be benign and will be contested both by the West as much as by the East. India should be prepared to go solo.
The US-India partnership will survive a resuscitated US-Pakistan partnership, but it won’t be pretty. https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/from-f-16-upgrades-to-ajk-has-us-pak-relations-rekindled-again-101664774068473.html
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday will host Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Pentagon for talks amidst signs of enhanced military engagement between the two countries.
Last week, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was in the town meeting top officials of the Biden Administration, including Secretary of State Tony Blinken.
Bajwa will be accorded an "enhanced honour cordon" at the riverside entrance of the Pentagon by Austin following which the two will be holding a meeting on bilateral and regional issues.
America's engagement with Pakistan, in particular with its military, has increased in recent months. Last month, the US announced a USD450 million F-16 fighter jet sustenance package for Pakistan.
Potential agenda points for Pakistan Army Chief DC visit:
-Flood relief (Army has played a major role)
-US-Pak CT cooperation in Afg
-Afg/Pak border security
-Pakistan's CT efforts (Pakistan set to be removed from FATF gray list)
-Proposed F16 deal
-Future of US mil aid to Pak
FWIW, there’s been more momentum on the non-security side of late, and ultimately the relationship will be healthier and more stable over the long term if it emphasizes that side of the relationship.
United States government official
This year marks the 75th anniversary of relations between the U.S. and 🇵🇰 Pakistan. It was my pleasure to host Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, to the Pentagon where we discussed our long-standing defense partnership and areas of mutual interest.
US rolls out red carpet for Pak Army chief as India wavers on anti-Russia stand
WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday will host Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Pentagon for talks amidst signs of enhanced military engagement between the two countries.
Last week, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was in the town meeting top officials of the Biden Administration, including Secretary of State Tony Blinken.
Bajwa will be accorded an “enhanced honour cordon” at the riverside entrance of the Pentagon by Austin following which the two will be holding a meeting on bilateral and regional issues.
The Army chief thanked the U.S. officials for their support for the rescue and rehabilitation of flood victims in Pakistan
Pakistan's Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has called on U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, National Security Adviser Jacob Sullivan and other top officials and discussed matters of mutual interest, regional security and bilateral cooperation in various fields.
Mr. Bajwa's visit to the United States comes weeks before he is expected to retire after an extended six-year tenure.
"This long-standing partnership continues today with discussions focused on opportunities to address key mutual defence interests," the Pentagon said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mr. Austin hosted General Bajwa at the Pentagon during the 75th anniversary of relations between the United States and Pakistan, said the statement.
During the meeting on Tuesday, the leaders discussed matters of mutual interest, regional security and bilateral cooperation in various fields, the Dawn newspaper said.
Mr. Bajwa also met Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
The Army chief thanked the U.S. officials for their support and reiterated that assistance from “our global partners would be vital for the rescue and rehabilitation of flood victims in Pakistan,” it quoted a Pakistani military statement as saying.
The floods have killed over 1,600 people and displaced more than 33 million others in Pakistan.
The floods have left a third of the country submerged under water and caused estimated damage of nearly $30 billion.
Both sides noted that Pakistan and the U.S. had a long history of bilateral cooperation and that both countries shall continue improving their economic, trade and investment ties.
His visit to the U.S. comes days after Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's trip to the country.
During his visit, Mr. Bilawal met top officials of the Biden Administration, including Secretary of State Tony Blinken.
America’s engagement with Pakistan, in particular with its military, has increased in recent months. Last month, the U.S. announced a $450 million F-16 fighter jet sustenance package for Pakistan.
Islamabad, October 5, 2022 – Ambassador Donald Blome visited Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) October 2-4 to promote the U.S.-Pakistan partnership and highlight the two countries’ deep economic, cultural, and people-to-people ties.
During his visit, Ambassador Blome met with AJK Prime Minister Tanveer Ilyas and academic, business, cultural, and civil society representatives. In Muzaffarabad, Ambassador Blome laid a wreath to honor the victims of the 2005 earthquake and stated that “during the 75 years of our partnership, the United States has always stood by Pakistan, particularly when it’s needed most.” Following the earthquake, the U.S. government and private sector provided significant humanitarian relief and reconstruction, and the U.S. military delivered relief supplies. In his meetings, Ambassador Blome emphasized that the United States is continuing this strong tradition of supporting Pakistan during times of great need, having thus far contributed more than $66 million in cash, food, shelter, and health assistance in response to the devastating flooding. U.S. support has included a U.S. military airbridge that delivered lifesaving supplies to the people of Pakistan.
At the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Ambassador Blome visited the Lincoln Corner Muzaffarabad, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary. This space provides students and the local community with a multi-media resource center to listen to expert speakers, take part in STEM activities, practice English-language skills, and learn about the United States. The Ambassador also joined university leadership to see previous U.S. government funded projects on campus, including a building completed in 2017, which features laboratories, classrooms, conference rooms, energy-efficient and green-building concepts.
While in Muzaffarabad, the Ambassador also visited the Quaid-e-Azam Memorial Dak Bungalow, the Red Fort, and the Jalalabad Garden, symbols of the cultural and historical richness of Pakistan. Meeting with members of the 950-person strong Muzaffarabad chapter of the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network, Ambassador Blome praised them for the passion they bring to their communities and the bilateral relationship, discussing the 60 recent projects they’ve done on topics as varied as climate change, women’s empowerment, and entrepreneurship. During his visit, the Ambassador also met with officers from the Pakistan Army 12th Infantry Division to discuss assistance activities for local communities.
In Bagh, Ambassador Blome joined representatives from U.S. healthcare IT services company MTBC/CareCloud to inaugurate the HeadStart School, which enrolls more than 750 students. This purpose-built campus will strengthen the quality of education available to residents in Bagh and provide additional opportunities to the community. MTBC/CareCloud has offices throughout Pakistan, but its Bagh facility is its largest in Pakistan, with 2,525 employees – almost 20 percent of whom are women. The United States is Pakistan’s largest export market and American companies have been leading investors in Pakistan for the past 20 years. In the past year alone, U.S. investment in Pakistan increased by over 50 percent, reaching its highest level in over a decade.
The Pentagon said the proposed sale “greatly improves Pakistan’s ability to support counterterrorism operations through its robust air-to-ground capability”. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar took a sharp dig at the US deciding to send the F-16 fighter jet fleet sustainment programme to Pakistan earlier this month to meet ‘current and future counterterrorism threats’, he said “you are not fooling anybody by saying these things”. On F-16 aircraft he said, “For someone to say I am doing this because it is all counter-terrorism content and so when you are talking of an aircraft like a capability of an F-16 where everybody knows, you know where they are deployed and their use. In 2019, Pakistan had used the same aircraft to target India after the Balakot strike and used American supplied AIM-120 C-5 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile), to shoot down then Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s MiG 21 Bison.
This is the first American military assistance package to Pakistan after the Trump Administration ended defence and security co-operation with the country in 2018 after accusing it of giving only “lies and deceit” for the billions of dollars that the US had “foolishly” given it.
Despite considerable strategic convergence between the US and India of late in the Indo-Pacific through QUAD, the announcement by the Biden administration at this stage, however, approved a $450 million F-16 aircraft fleet sustainment programme for Pakistan sends confused signals. The US government led by President Joe Biden decided to overturn the decision of his predecessor Donald Trump to suspend military aid to Pakistan in lieu of it providing safe havens for the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference in response to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s statement; “We look to both as partners, because we do have in many cases shared values. We do have in many cases shared interests. And the relationship we have with India stands on its own. The relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own.”
US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics services for follow-on support of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet aircraft sustainment programme includes modifications and support of aircraft and engine hardware and software as well as repair and return of the jets and engine spares, classified and unclassified software and software support among others. The Pentagon statement also said that the proposed sale will continue the sustainment of the country’s F-16 fleet, which “greatly improves Pakistan’s ability to support counterterrorism operations through its robust air-to-ground capability”.
Reasons for US F-16 support:
Among the major speculated reasons for the Biden Administration’s reversal of Trump’s policy on Pakistan, one revolves around the killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul. Questions ;who provided the intelligence for the drone strike that killed the al-Qaeda chief in a posh house that belonged to Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani.
by Suhasini Haider
To begin with, F-16 Falcons have always been seen as a barometer of the US-Pakistan relationship:
1. In 1981, as US-Pakistan cooperation against Soviets in Afghanistan got underway- the US sold 40 F-16 jets to Pakistan. These were used to protect mujahideen training camps and shoot down Soviet jets and transporters
2. In 1990, after the Soviets left Afghanistan, ties spiralled- and after the US Pressler amendment on nuclear proliferation concerns, the US held back a Pakistani order for 28 F-16 jets- even though Pakistan had paid for $658 million in advance. Eventually the US refunded the money.
3. From 2005-2015, after US-Pakistan cooperation restarted after 9/11 and the “war on terrorism”, the US resumed its F-16 sales to Pakistan – delivering 23 F-16 As and Bs from the previous order,
selling 19 advanced F-16s and upgrading the previous ones. In all today, Pakistan has about 85 F-16s of various variants. In 2016 the Obama administration approved the sale of 8 more, but the US Congress turned down a plan to susidize them, and Pakistan dropped the deal.
4. Then in 2018, US President Trump, tired of Pakistan’s unkept promises on fighting terrorism and on Afghanistan cancelled all further defence sales and support funding to Pakistan- the period began a low point in US-Pakistan ties, especially with the Imran Khan government, which US President Biden refused to meet or engage with.
5. The decision to provide $450 million worth of F-16 support and equipment marks an uptick in US-Pakistan ties again- Mr. Blinken has met with and spoken over the phone to Mr. Bhutto a number of times since May, and President Biden met with PM Shehbaz Sharif at a reception he hosted in New York last week.
What is the reason for Mr. Jaishankar’s angry words, and why is New Delhi concerned about the $450 million package?
1. This marks the first US military sale to Pakistan since the time US acknowledged Pakistan had been double dealing and was an untrustworthy partner on Afghanistan. The larger question, is the US perception of that changing in any way?
2. This is also the first such package since Pakistan’s grey listing on terror financing, which it hopes to exit this year. The concern in India is this could weaken the war against terrorism as well, if Pakistan feels emboldened to step up support to anti-India terror groups
3. Balakot: During the 2019 Balakot skirmish, when an Indian plane was shot down, India had shown fragments of a missile as proof that Pakistan had used US F-16s in the dogfight, which are only meant for counter-terrorism purposes. The concern in Delhi is Mr. Blinken is whitewashing the incident, and the US, which has never confirmed the Indian claim is basically turning a blind eye to Pakistan’s misuse of the F-16s by providing more support.
4. Dealing with two fronts: Particularly as India deals with aggression from China and focuses its resources there, any arming of Pakistan by the US could alter the regional military balance. The US deal also casts a shadow over the US’s plans to sell India F-21 fighter jets, which are seen as a rebranded version of the F-16s. New Delhi will watch a visit in the next few weeks by Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa to Washington very closely, as a result.
India-US ties are set on such a close-knit trajectory that it is unlikely that the F-16 support deal to Pakistan alone will prove to be more than just a fly in the ointment, a minor irritant in ties. However, it is the larger ramifications of a possible detente in Washington-Islamabad ties, that soars and plunges by turns, which has in the past meant a greater security threat for India that are the bigger worry, and it is necessary that the US recognise this...especially after its handover to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Former Ambassador Katju dissects EAM Jaishankars speech at the UNGA
"Strong statements of a nationalistic flavour may win brownie points and popularity at home — facts, reason and logic as guides should never be overlooked."
America upgrades Pakistani F-16 fighter jets, experts weigh in | Latest News
Sep 8, 2022 US has approved F-16 fleet sustainment programme to Pakistan. The deal is valued at up to $450 million. This program essentially means structural and software upgrades, leading to additional usable flight hours. Pakistan Government requested to include US Government for follow-on support of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet to include an F-16 Aircraft Structural Integrity Program. The country has also requested to consolidate and include logistics services for support of Engine Management Program and software support. This program essentially means structural and software upgrades. It will lead to additional usable flight hours on existing F-16 aircraft and better air-to-ground precision capability. Defence Expert PK Sehgal reacted to President Biden’s millions dollar deal by saying that the initiative has been taken by US in order to resist the global Chinese hegemony.
Germany calls for UN's role in Kashmir issue.
"Germany also has role and responsibility with regard to the situation in Kashmir, Therefore we support intensively the engagement of the United Nation, to find the peaceful solutions in the region."
German call for U.N. role in J&K is injustice to terror victims: India - The Hindu
The government took strong objection to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s call for the “engagement of the United Nations” in the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in response to a question during a joint press conference with Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto in Bonn on Friday. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called such comments a “grave injustice” to victims of terrorism.
In her remarks, Ms. Baerbock said Germany supports U.N. role in resolving the Kashmir dispute, praised the LoC ceasefire agreement of February 2021, and also called for a “political dialogue” between India and Pakistan.
“Germany has a role and responsibility with regard to the situation of Kashmir. Therefore, we support intensively the engagement of the United Nations to find peaceful solutions in the region,” Ms. Baerbock said after bilateral talks with Mr. Bhutto in the German capital, where he said he had raised the Kashmir issue.
“There are tensions as [Mr. Bhutto] described, so we encourage Pakistan and we encourage India to follow the track of the ceasefire, to follow the track of the United Nations, and to intensify the political dialogue, and also the political and practical cooperation in the region,” she added.
Reacting sharply to the wording of Ms. Baerbock’s comments, the MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Saturday said that the “role and responsibility” of any “serious and conscientious member of the global community” was to call out international, cross-border terrorism.
“The Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has borne the brunt of such a terrorist campaign for decades. This continues till now,” Mr. Bagchi said referring to the unfinished prosecution of Pakistan-based terrorists involved in the Mumbai 26/11 attacks. “When states do not recognise such dangers, either because of self-interest or indifference, they undermine the cause of peace, not promote it. They also do grave injustice to the victims of terrorism,” he added.
Agreeing with Ms. Baerbock on the U.N. role, Mr. Bhutto said that peace in South Asia is not possible without the “peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the U.N. resolutions, in accordance with international law,” and even sought to draw a parallel between “unilateral actions in Ukraine” and “unilateral actions in Kashmir”, in reference to the government’s August 2019 reorganisation of the State.
The comments came a day after a speech by Home Minister Amit Shah in Baramullah in Kashmir, where he ruled out a dialogue process with Pakistan, saying the Modi government would not talk to Pakistan, but to “the people of Kashmir” only.
Earlier this week, New Delhi had also conveyed objections to Washington over the visit of the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan to Muzaffarabad, and the U.S.’s reference to the area under Pakistani occupation as “Azaad Jammu Kashmir”, indicating concern within the government about global references to the Kashmir dispute. In June, during a visit to Islamabad, Ms. Baerbock had also spoken about supporting the United Nations role, which India rejects, and the need to ensure that “human rights are being guaranteed” in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the MEA had not responded to the comments at the time.
Since the Simla Agreement of 1972, when India and Pakistan agreed to resolve their disputes bilaterally, New Delhi has not recognised the role of the United Nations in Jammu and Kashmir, and the issue has remained largely dormant at the U.N. On August 16, 2019, days after the government’s move to reorganise Jammu and Kashmir and amend Article 370, the U.N. held its first discussion on Kashmir in decades, albeit behind closed doors, where the U.N. Secretary-General had called for “restraint” from India and Pakistan. Ms. Baerbock’s comments on the U.N. role, made twice this year, have hence raised concerns and met with objections from New Delhi.
Experts point to a number of reasons for the increase, including a climate of discrimination in India, an end to pandemic-era restrictions, a perception that the current US administration is welcoming to asylum seekers and the ramping-up of previously established smuggling networks.
While some migrants are coming to the US for economic reasons, many are fleeing persecution back home, said Deepak Ahluwalia, an immigration lawyer who has represented Indian nationals in Texas and California.
The latter group range from Muslims, Christians and "low-caste" Hindus to members of India's LGBT community who fear violence at the hands of extreme Hindu nationalists, or supporters of secessionist movements and farmers from the Punjab region, which has been shaken by protests since 2020.
Conditions for many of these groups have deteriorated in recent years, international observers say.
Immigrants such as Mr Singh often see the US as "the ultimate gateway" to a better life, said Mr Ahluwalia, the lawyer.
The enormous distances involved, however, make the trip to the US extremely challenging.
Traditionally, Indian migrants who arrive at the US-Mexican border use "door-to-door" smuggling services, with journeys arranged from India to South America. They are often guided the entire way and travel in small groups with their fellow countrymen who speak the same language, rather than individually or with only family members.
These networks often begin with India-based "travel agents" which outsource parts of the journey to partner criminal groups in Latin America.
Jessica Bolter, an analyst at the Washington DC-based Migration Policy Institute, said that the number of Indian migrants is also rising as a result of a "ripple effect" that takes place when those who have used these services successfully recommend them to friends or family back in India.
"It naturally expands and draws more migrants," she said. "Of course, that doesn't happen without migrants wanting to leave originally."
The experiences of Manpreet - a 20-year-old from Punjab who asked that only his first name be used - are typical of those who have taken the southern route in the past. A vocal critic of India's ruling BJP (Bharatiya Jannata Party), he fled the country after being persecuted for his political beliefs.
"From Ecuador I took a bus to Colombia, and from Colombia I took a bus to Panama," Manpreet recalled in an interview with the BBC from California. "From there, via a boat, I [went to] Nicaragua and Guatemala, and then Mexico and entered the US."
Even guided by seasoned smugglers, the trip to the border is often one that is fraught with dangers, including robberies and extortion at the hands of local gangs or corrupt authorities or extreme weather, injuries and illness.
These dangers were highlighted in 2019, when a 6-year-old Indian girl from Punjab was found dead in the scorching desert near the border town of Lukeville, Arizona - a case that made headlines in India. It was later reported that she died in temperatures of over 42 C (108 F) after her mother left her with a group of other Indians to go search for water.
Western countries saw military dictatorship in the region as its preferred partner, EAM Jaishankar said
India has a substantial inventory of Soviet and Russian-origin weapons because the Western countries opted a military dictatorship in the region as its preferred partner and did not supply weapons to New Delhi for decades, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on October 10, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.
During a joint press meet with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong in Canberra, Mr. Jaishankar also said that India and Russia have a long-standing relationship that has certainly served New Delhi’s interests well.
Sameer P. Lalwani
Claims the US/West denied defense equipment to India seem unfair & incomplete. All parties made choices. Price & tech leakage were factors, as were political strategies. The USSR sought to foil Indian diversification to keep it on the hook & Delhi sought to appease Moscow. A 🧵1/
Sameer P. Lalwani
India might have made a huge leap to Western tech 40 yrs ago if it followed through on a 1980s deal with France to purchase 110-150 Mirage-2000s fighters and domestically build 70-110 through licensed production, perhaps accelerating indigenization. 2/
Sameer P. Lalwani
India has been license producing Soviet/Russian platforms for 60 years but arguably doesn't have a lot to show for it (which is why it seeks W. tech transfer). For a counterfactual, think about what Turkish aerospace has achieved after 40 years of licensed production of F-16s. 3/
Sameer P. Lalwani
India went on to buy just 40 (+9 more) Mirage-2000s off the shelf but no co-production. The IAF wanted the full Mirage-2000 buy, but India's MOD overruled them. One explanation may be pure cost. Another may be risk-aversion of advanced, disruptive, complex technologies… 4/
Sameer P. Lalwani
article points to that: "the MiG 29, being a conventional aircraft, will be easier to manufacture compared to the Mirage 2000 which has complex electronics for its fly-by-wire system and composite materials in its structure." 5/
Sameer P. Lalwani
The strategic logic stretches credulity. It's unlikely India's MOD overruled the Air Force with a judgement re the superiority of single-role over multi-role aircraft for air defense.
The simplest explanations of geo/politics (+perhaps a dash of bribery?) seem most likely. 6/
By Kaiser Tufail, ex PAF fighter pilot
Induction of the Rafale in IAF has created considerable media interest, and the impression has been created that with immediate effect, IAF will rule the Indian skies. It must, however, be remembered that it will be at least two years before the Rafale achieves anything close to Full Operational Capability. PAF, on the other hand, has been flying F-16s for 37 years, including hot scenarios during the Afghan War, in local counter-insurgency operations, and the latest Operation ‘Swift Retort,’ downing half a dozen enemy fighters in these operations. The JF-17 has been fully operational for over a decade, and is expected to replace the legacy fighters over the next five years. These combat-proven PAF fighters are fully integrated with the air defence system (e.g. AWACS), and are mutually data-linked, alongside all AEW and ground sensors. Such capabilities are not achieved overnight, and it will be several years before the Rafales can be considered a threat in any real sense. Any immediate impact of the Rafale on IAF’s air power capabilities is, thus, simply overhyped. This inference, however, must not be dealt with lightly, as there is a distinct possibility of the Indian Prime Minister using the Rafale for a false-flag operation in a surreptitious manner, to prove his point that, “with the Rafale, the results would have been different,” from those of 27 February 2019.
“To be able to win the fires fight; to be able to take dispersed forces and have them converge together to engage the enemy; to be able to see farther, more persistently, longer than our adversaries; to be able to protect ourselves; to be able to share data and communicate, not just with each other but with the other services and our allies; and then to sustain that whole joint force, we’re going to need systems, capabilities,” (US Army Secretary Christine) Wormuth said. “That is really where you get into a lot of the programs that we always talk about in our six modernization portfolios.”
The war games took into account efforts currently under development — including those on weapons systems, concepts and the new multidomain operations doctrine — in order to determine “the next set of concepts” and the requirements that will drive them, Wormuth explained.
“I can’t think of an area that we’re not doing anything in right now,” she said. “We’ve got work underway looking at networks, at AI, at autonomy, at … biotechnology. Those are the things that I think we want to have the labs focused on, so I don’t think there’s a wholly uncovered area at this time.”
By Shekhar Gupta
The US ambassador visits Pakistan occupied Kashmir & refers to it as ‘Azad Jammu & Kashmir’, German foreign minister says UN could play a role in Kashmir & Pakistan’s Army Chief spends nearly a week in Washington. In episode 1093 of Cut The Clutter Shekhar Gupta explains why Pakistan cannot be isolated or ignored and where it stands right now.
While perceptions of China have soured in many parts of the world, very few Pakistanis have anything but positive sentiments toward Beijing.
As part of the Sinophone Borderlands public opinion survey in Pakistan in June 2022, over 1,200 Pakistani respondents were asked two open-ended questions about their perception of China. Respondents were drawn from all regions of Pakistan and included a representative sample of age groups and genders. The same questions have also been asked in many other countries and very rarely have the answers been as significantly positive as in Pakistan.
The first survey question asked what first came to people’s minds when thinking of China. The most common answers, as the word cloud reveals, were “friend,” “best friend,” “good friend,” and even “trusted friend.” Chinese people were perceived as friendly and hardworking. The country itself was seen as being strong, and developed, with many respondents labeling it a superpower. Also, China was seen as helpful and supportive of Pakistan. The connection between the two countries was described as a “brotherhood” and many people celebrated it by saying “long live Pak-China friendship.”
The second question asked whether people’s general view of China got better or worse during the previous three years and why. An overwhelming majority of the Pakistani respondents (85 percent) gave a positive answer. Only 9 percent indicated a worsening of their perception, and 6 percent stayed neutral. Those who indicated seeing China in a worse light than before identified reasons like COVID-19, China working only for its own benefit, and China’s treatment of Muslims (this was the most common answer among the negative answers). People whose perception got better focused mostly on China’s support to Pakistan in the form of CPEC, Chinese investment, or even China’s COVID-19 support.
The results prompt an important question: Why are the attitudes of Pakistanis so overwhelmingly positive toward China, and why so much more so than in other countries? The answer is that their positive attitudes are linked to China’s long-term support for Pakistan, especially through CPEC, and Pakistan’s otherwise rather isolated position in South Asia, where it lacks other firm allies.
In particular, the positive attitude correlates with Chinese investments flowing into the country under the label of CPEC, which was frequently mentioned by the respondents. Although the CPEC investment program has progressed more slowly than expected, especially with regard to the development of Gwadar port in Balochistan province, there have been notable successes. Transport and energy infrastructure, so badly needed in Pakistan, have been built. New power plants have added energy to Pakistan’s power grid. Roads and railways are being constructed. The ML-1 connection linking Karachi with the northern city of Peshawar is the most significant project under construction by Chinese companies. ML-1 is employing an estimated 24,000 workers and will ultimately cost around $6.8 billion. However, more work needs to be done, especially with regard to energy, since Pakistan is still prone to blackouts.
Nevertheless, what drives China’s popularity among the citizens of Pakistan is that China is really Pakistan’s one and only stalwart ally. It is the only country that is currently willing to invest in Pakistan on a large scale. India is a mutual enemy, while the United States has clearly given up on Pakistan since the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The U.S. is also China’s geopolitical rival. As far as other possible candidates for aid are concerned, Russia is supplying arms to India, and Pakistan has mixed relations with its other neighbors such as Iran and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, even though there are problems with the CPEC megaproject, it is the only game in town. China also continues to supply Pakistan’s military with the majority of its arms imports.
October 12, 2022 forceindia 0 Comment
A tour de force of South Asia’s military, tech and strategic dynamics
Pravin Sawhney’s The Last War: How AI Will Shape India’s Final Showdown With China is the most detailed and up-to-date work about South Asia’s military, technological, and strategic dynamics. The author compellingly argues that India is far behind China as a result of mistakenly prioritizing Pakistan as its top security threat. By disproportionately focusing on the western vector of its national security interests, including countering related unconventional threats, Delhi is unprepared to adequately address newfound challenges along the northern one that are much more conventional in nature.
The summer 2020 clashes over the Galwan river valley should have served as a belated wake-up call, but they failed to be interpreted properly according to Sawhney, who provides evidence proving that decisionmakers continue to misperceive everything connected to China. He’s particularly concerned that his homeland might not be able to catch up with the cutting-edge challenges posed by China’s unprecedented military modernisation, which comprises the bulk of his book. It’s here where the author showcases his unparalleled expertise on military, technological, and strategic dynamics.
The Last War opens dramatically with the scenario of a Chinese sneak attack on India that includes cyberattacks, robot invasions, and swarms of miniature assassination drones, among other aspects. This captivates the reader’s imagination since they’re immediately intrigued to learn more about how Sawhney arrived at this particular vision of the future. He then proceeds to describe these two Great Powers’ polar opposite security paradigms, military modernisation programmes, and points of friction. Plenty of insight is shared about Pakistan and the US too, which helps complete the picture.
Upon learning how far India is behind China, it becomes clear to the reader that the former is at risk of sleepwalking into a disaster of epic proportions unless it urgently changes course to correct the trajectory that it’s on. Fundamental to the author’s scenario forecast is his concern that Delhi is too distracted by Pakistan to appreciate the full-spectrum paradigm-changing challenges posed by China. Furthermore, he argues that its armed forces don’t coordinate at the level required to effectively address this, nor does its political leadership have a proper understanding of technological trends.
Sawhney is also suspicious of the US’ influence over India, which he very strongly suggests is aimed at exploiting it as a proxy against China, one that Washington will inevitably hang out to dry once the going gets tough for Delhi in the event of a serious conflict with Beijing. It’s this patriotic motivation that drove him to elaborate on everything as extensively as he did, which includes very sharp critiques of India’s institutions. Readers should always remember this so as not to be put off by some of what he wrote, which for as ‘politically inconvenient’ as it might be for some, is fully cited and thus credible.
That's the underlying message from a rare visit to New Zealand by India's external affairs minister, Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Jaishankar met with his New Zealand counterpart, Nanaia Mahuta, last Thursday - but only for an hour.
At a press conference with Mahuta in Auckland, Jaishankar was publicly critical of New Zealand's unwillingness to renew visas for Indian students who had left New Zealand during the Covid-19 pandemic and called for 'fairer and more sympathetic treatment'.
Mahuta's response to the criticism was to pass the buck to Michael Wood, New Zealand's immigration minister, who was conveniently not present, and to point to hardships suffered by New Zealand students themselves.
Jaishankar reiterated his criticism at other engagements during his trip and on Twitter, and the comments dominated Indian media coverage of his five-day visit to Auckland and Wellington.
Despite the usual pleasantries, there was a sense that India had lost patience with New Zealand - a sentiment that was underlined by Jaishankar's later observation in Wellington of 'there is a larger world out there'.
Even more troubling from New Zealand's perspective was the extraordinary admission by Mahuta that a free trade agreement was 'not a priority for New Zealand or India'.
Instead, Mahuta could only point to potential economic cooperation in 'niche areas' such as digital services and 'green business' - a seemingly underwhelming approach that was endorsed by Jaishankar.
Post-Brexit, one of the big prizes in UK trade talks would be a deal with India, and Scotch whisky could benefit most. A deal has been getting close.
It is now in doubt because of comments by new Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Saying that Indians are over-staying their work permits strikes at the biggest gain that Delhi wants to see, and has caused offence.
Suella Braverman, (is the) newly installed as home secretary. In charge of immigration policy, she told The Spectator magazine that she is concerned about Indians who come to the UK to work and then fail to return when their visas run out. She said Indian nationals are the most numerous offenders.
"I have concerns about having an open borders migration policy with India because I don't think that's what people voted for with Brexit… The largest group of people who overstay are Indian migrants. We even reached an agreement with the Indian government last year to encourage and facilitate better cooperation in this regard. It has not necessarily worked very well."
The comments have gone down very badly in India. The country's press is expressing its indignation that the home secretary should insult Indians that way.
By Shekhar Gupta
The US ambassador visits Pakistan occupied Kashmir & refers to it as ‘Azad Jammu & Kashmir’, German foreign minister says UN could play a role in Kashmir & Pakistan’s Army Chief spends nearly a week in Washington. In episode 1093 of Cut The Clutter Shekhar Gupta explains why Pakistan cannot be isolated or ignored and where it stands right now.
Pakistan is our most important neighbor
We must focus on Pakistan
We can not ignore Pakistan in India because the world can not ignore Pakistan
The Western world has an intrinsic relationship with Pakistan which doesn't go away
The West does not see Pakistan as so useful to them today and yet Pakistan can not be isolated
You can see all the indications that Pakistan is not isolated
A lot of (Indian) TV channels say Pakistan is isolated but the evidence doesn;t support it
Pakistan FM has visited Washington and met his counterpart Tony Blinken
Pakistan Army Chief has received a warm welcome at the US Defense Dept and met US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Bajwa matters more than the Pakistan Defense Minister. Nobody knows his name.
US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome, a career diplomat has visited Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and called it Azad Kashmir...Azad means free.
When the chips are down in the region Pakistan is the ally Americans reach out to
The US does not want Pakistan to drift to China
German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has spoken about Kashmir...the K word. She has asked for the UN to help solve the Kashmir issue.
Bajwa is not a warmonger. He wants to normalize ties with India. He wants to trade with India. He doesn't want Faiz Hameed to succeed him. He used to be the ISI chief and took credit for the Taliban victory in Afghanistan. Do the Americans have leverage here?
Where does Pakistan's unique power come from? Why can't Pakistan be ignored? Why can't Pakistan be isolated?
The Indian public needs to understand it.
Pakistan is too big in terms of population, too powerful militarily, too Muslim, too nuclear and too well located to be isolated.
Pakistan has the 5th largest population and its population is growing fast. It could soon exceed Indonesia to become the largest Muslim nation in the world.
Pakistan has the 5th strongest military in the world.
In terms of nuclear weapons, Pakistan has the 4th largest nuclear arsenal in the world.
Pakistan is too well located to be isolated. It has geo-strategic location. Pakistan is the western gateway to China. Pakistan opened China's ties with US. And then helped the US defeat the Soviet Union.
The factors that made Pakistan such a strong ally to US still exist. Don't blame the Pakistanis for it.
India is not willing to be commit to an alliance with the US.
Imran Khan tried to change Pakistan's foreign policy to be more like India's but he failed.
BY HUSAIN HAQQANI,
American officials are beginning to realize that ignoring or trying to isolate Pakistan is not a smart policy option. The U.S. maintains relations with a host of countries with which it disagrees. Why should Pakistan be different?
After a hiatus of a few years, Pakistan and the United States have started to re-engage, though Pakistan no longer features critically in U.S. global plans, as the Biden administration’s national security strategy makes clear. Over the past few weeks, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa met with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
These meetings reflect recognition that Pakistan, with all its complexities, cannot be wished away. It is the world’s fifth most populous country and is the only majority Muslim nation armed with nuclear weapons.
Moreover, the U.S. has walked away from Pakistan before, in the 1990s over Pakistan’s nuclear program. That did not work out well for American interests as it only strengthened the most radical elements in Pakistani society.
But it is equally true that the Cold War-era considerations that brought Pakistan and the U.S. together are no longer applicable. The two countries have very different views on India (which Pakistanis see as an enemy and Americans view as an essential partner), China (which is considered an “iron brother” by Pakistan but deemed a threat by the U.S.) and Afghanistan (where Pakistan has consistently favored fundamentalist groups such as the Taliban against secularists preferred by Americans).
As the Pakistan Study Group report points out, the U.S. and Pakistan have parallel narratives of their shared experience. They were preoccupied with confronting different enemies and pinning different expectations on their partnership. Instead of behaving like a quarrelsome married couple, it is time for the two countries to try to be friends who work together where they can and disagree honestly where they cannot.
The close China-Pakistan relationship at a time of deepening U.S.-China rivalry should be a reason for greater, not less, American attention to Pakistan. In fact, even India, which wants Pakistan to stop supporting Muslim militants in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region, should join the U.S to ensure Pakistan maintains a degree of sovereign autonomy over its actions and does not become a Chinese proxy.
US president said Pakistan is one of the ‘most dangerous’ nations which has ‘nuclear weapons without any cohesion’.
Speaking in the context of China and his relationship with President Xi Jinping, Biden said, “This is a guy [Xi Jinping] who understands what he wants but has an enormous, enormous array of problems. How do we handle that? How do we handle that relative to what’s going on in Russia? And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion.”
Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Saturday during a news conference in the southern port city of Karachi he was “surprised” by Biden’s statement. “I believe this is exactly the sort of misunderstanding that is created when there is a lack of engagement,” he added.
“If there is any question as to nuclear safety, then they should be directed to our neighbour India, who very recently accidentally fired a missile into Pakistani territory,” Bhutto-Zardari said, citing the firing of a supersonic missile into Pakistan on March 9.
The 34-year-old asserted that he did not think the decision to summon Ambassador Donald Blome will negatively affect Islamabad’s relations with the Americans.
“We will continue on the positive trajectory of engagements we are having so far,” he said.
The controversy came just more than a week after Pakistan’s military chief, General Qamar Bajwa, made a trip to the US and held high-level meetings with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday condemned Biden’s remarks, saying the US president had reached an “unwarranted conclusion”.
President Joe Biden in which he called the South Asian country “one of the most dangerous nations in the world.”
Biden was at an informal fundraising dinner at a private residence in Los Angeles on Thursday sponsored by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee when he made the comment. Speaking about China and its leader Xi Jinping, he pondered the U.S.'s role in relation to China as it grapples with its positions on Russia, India and Pakistan.
“How do we handle that?” he said, according to a transcript on the White House web page. "How do we handle that relative to what’s going on in Russia? And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion.”
Pakistan's current prime minister and two former prime ministers rejected the statement as baseless, and the country's acting foreign secretary summoned the U.S. ambassador on Saturday for an explanation of Biden's remarks.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in a statement rejected Biden's remarks calling them factually incorrect and misleading. He said Pakistan over the years has proved itself to be a responsible nuclear state, and its nuclear program is managed through a technically sound command and control system. He pointed to Pakistan's commitment to global standards including those of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Sharif said Pakistan and the U.S. have a long history of friendly and mutually beneficial relations. “It is our sincere desire to cooperate with the U.S. to promote regional peace and security," he said.
Zardari, speaking to reporters, said if there is any question about nuclear weapons security in the region, it should be raised with Pakistan's nuclear-armed neighbor, India. He said India recently fired a missile that landed accidentally in Pakistan.
Pakistan and India have been arch-rivals since their independence from British rule in 1947. They have bitter relations over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is divided between them and claimed by both in its entirety. They fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.
Two former prime minsters took to Twitter to respond to Biden's comments.
Former premier Nawaz Sharif, the current prime minister's brother, said Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state that is perfectly capable of safeguarding its national interests while respecting international law and practices. Pakistan became a nuclear state in 1998 when Sharif was in power for the second time.
"Our nuclear program is in no way a threat to any country. Like all independent states, Pakistan reserves the right to protect its autonomy, sovereign statehood and territorial integrity,” he said.
Former premier Imran Khan tweeted that Biden is wrong about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, saying he knows for a fact that they are secure. “Unlike US which has been involved in wars across the world, when has Pakistan shown aggression especially post-nuclearization ?”
Khan was ousted in April in a no-confidence vote in parliament and has put forward, without giving evidence, a claim that he was ousted as the result of a U.S.-led plot involving Sharif. The U.S. and Sharif deny the accusation.
Zardari noted that Biden’s statement was not made at any formal platform like a news conference but at an informal fundraising dinner. “I don’t believe it negatively impacts the relations between Pakistan and the U.S.," he said.
Pakistan and the U.S. have been traditional allies but their relations have been bumpy at times. Pakistan served as a front-line state in the U.S.-led war on terror following the 9/11 attacks. But relations soured after U.S. Navy Seals killed al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden at a compound in the garrison city of Abbottabad, not far from Pakistan's military academy in May 2011.
ARMS & DEFENSE
Oct 7, 2022
Back in January, in what was a rare showing of consensus on a global security topic, the United States, Russia, China, the UK and France jointly agreed that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”. The pledge, the result of months of talks, was summarized by a senior U.S. state department official at the time as: “an acknowledgement that it is something that we want to avoid”.
Now though, with increasingly threatening rhetoric from Russia, U.S. President Biden has said that Putin is “not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons", warning: “I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily (use) a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon”. Adding historical context, Biden said: “We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
Currently, there is estimated to be almost 13,000 nuclear warheads in the hands of nine countries. At the top of the list, as compiled by the Federation Of American Scientists (FAS), are of course Russia and the U.S. with a combined arsenal of over 11,000. The FAS warned in late 2021 that “instead of planning for nuclear disarmament, the nuclear-armed states appear to plan to retain large arsenals for the indefinite future. All continue to modernize their remaining nuclear forces…and all appear committed to retaining nuclear weapons for the indefinite future.”
HUGE walk-back today by State Dept of Biden’s previous statement of concern over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program: “The United States is confident of Pakistan's commitment and its ability to secure its nuclear assets.”
"Confident Of Pak's Ability To Secure Its Nukes": US After Biden's Remark
"The US has always viewed a secure and prosperous Pakistan as critical to US interests and, more broadly, the US values our long-standing cooperation with Pakistan," he said.
The United States said Monday that it had confidence in Pakistan's ability to control its nuclear arsenal after President Joe Biden expressed alarm, leading Islamabad to summon the US ambassador.
"The United States is confident of Pakistan's commitment and its ability to secure its nuclear assets," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.
"The US has always viewed a secure and prosperous Pakistan as critical to US interests and, more broadly, the US values our long-standing cooperation with Pakistan," he said.
Biden made the off-the-cuff remarks on Pakistan's nuclear program Thursday while at a private Democratic Party fundraiser in California where he began to discuss challenges facing President Xi Jinping of China, a close ally of Pakistan.
"And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion," Biden said, according to a White House transcript.
Pakistan -- proud to be the only declared nuclear power in the Islamic world -- summoned US Ambassador Donald Blome to lodge a protest.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted that Pakistan was a "responsible nuclear state" and that it takes safety measures "with the utmost seriousness."
US officials have long privately voiced alarm about nuclear safety if the political situation changes in Pakistan, whose military and intelligence apparatus has assisted Afghanistan's Taliban.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Biden's remarks should not hurt relations, noting that the president was not speaking at an official function.
But Bhutto Zardari, who recently visited Washington, called for more interaction, with Biden showing little interest in personally engaging his Pakistani counterparts.
Patel noted, however, that USAID chief Samantha Power and State Department Counselor Derek Chollet have both visited since devastating floods hit Pakistan.
Pakistan is expected to finally exit the ‘increased monitoring list’ — commonly known as grey list — of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Oct 21, after languishing in the infamous category for almost 52 months.
“The first FATF Plenary under the two-year Singapore Presidency of T. Raja Kumar will take place on October 20-21, 2022,” said the Paris-based global watchdog on dirty money. Delegates representing 206 members of the Global Network and observer organisations, including the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the World Bank, Interpol and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, will participate in the Working Group and Plenary meetings in Paris, it added.
On the conclusion of the two-day deliberations, decisions of the plenary would be announced.
The plenary will also focus on jurisdictions identified as presenting a risk to the international financial system, with an update to public statements that identify jurisdictions as high risk or being subject to increased monitoring besides other key issues, including guidance on improving beneficial ownership transparency to prevent shell companies and other opaque structures from being used to launder illicit funds.
Pakistan was included among jurisdictions under increased monitoring list in June 2018 for deficiencies in its legal, financial, regulatory, investigations, prosecution, judicial and non-government sector to fight money laundering and combat terror financing considered serious threat to global financial system.
In terms of technical compliance with FATF standards, Pakistan has been rated by APG as “compliant or largely compliant” in 38 out of 40 FATF recommendations in August this year, which placed the country among the top compliant countries in the world.
The completion of FATF/APG action plan for effectiveness of AML/CFT was also structural benchmark of the IMF for end-March 2022 and was achieved in June with a minor delay. The government had given a commitment to the IMF to review by end-June 2022 the implementation of AML/CFT controls by financial institutions with respect to the tax amnesty programme for the construction sector and promised to “meet the timelines for the implementation of APG’s 2021 Action Plan, including on the mutual legal assistance framework, AML/CFT supervision, transparency of beneficial ownership information, and compliance with targeted financial sanctions for proliferation financing”.
Pakistan on Tuesday expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia in the wake of “statements made against the kingdom” following the Saudi-led Opec+ cartel’s decision to cut oil production target despite objections from the United States.
Opec+, the producer group comprising the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) plus allies including Russia, had earlier this month agreed to reduce two million barrels per day from November at a meeting in Vienna — a move that angered the US.
Following the announcement, US President Joe Biden vowed to impose “consequences” on Saudi Arabia for siding with Russia in supporting the cuts.
The Opec+ move undermines Western countries’ plans to impose a cap on the price of Russian oil exports in response to Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat who chairs the Senate’s foreign relations committee, also called for a halt to most US arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the Opec+ move.
Commenting on the matter, the Foreign Office said it appreciated Saudi Arabia’s concerns about avoiding market volatility and ensuring global economic stability.
In a statement, the FO said Pakistan encouraged a constructive approach on such issues based on engagement and mutual respect.“
“We reaffirm our longstanding, abiding and fraternal ties with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the statement added.
According to the Wrestling Federation of India, the country entered 30 wrestlers for the competition, which started yesterday, October 17, and will end on October 23. Nonetheless, only nine of the total number of wrestlers were issued a visa by the Spanish Embassy, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Part of the group of the Indian wrestlers who were refused a visa were gold medal-winning players, including Antim Panghal, who is the first Indian woman to win the gold medal in the junior world championships in the 53 kilograms weight class.
Commenting on the visa refusals, the Wrestling Federation of India said that it would require the United World Wrestling to not give hosting rights to Spain for any future tournament.
“Wrestling Federation of India will complain in writing to the World Wrestling Federation, criticizing this attitude of the Spanish Embassy. And at the same time, it will also urge that no important wrestling competition should be organized in Spain in future,” the Indian Wrestling Federation added.
Apart from the above-mentioned, the Wrestling Federation of India also expressed frustration with the reason for visa refusals that the Spanish Embassy gave to them.
Sportstar explains that the Embassy of Spain in New Delhi refused the visa application of one of the applicants since there were reasonable doubts about their intention to leave the territory of the Member States before the expiry date.
The Embassy also said that the decision on the visa refusal in this particular case was also taken as the information submitted regarding the justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable.
It is believed that the others have also been given similar reasons for their visa refusal. However, there is no official information provided yet.
Earlier in August, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that the number of nationals in India who applied for a visa at the Spanish Embassy significantly increased over the summer. This happened because the other countries did not have available appointment slots or were taking too long to process the applications.
Sameer P. Lalwani
🧵: I'm surprised at the persistence of Indian sympathy for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Not sure if its historical residues, elite cues, (dis)information, or genuine sentiment. But Indian public opinion seems quite distant from Europe, Quad, but also some BricS countries. 1/
Sameer P. Lalwani
To be fair, this may be shared by global south & swing states. Turkey is an outlier within NATO and Indonesia also exhibits "both sides"-ism, attributing more blame to the West than Russia, and far less concern about the dangerous precedent set by Russian victory. 2/
Sameer P. Lalwani
This survey data comes
-Cambridge Center's Globalism project and a survey conducted 24 Aug-22 Sept, 2022 in 25 countries. "Globalism 2022 - The info war for Ukraine - All markets" 3/
Prof Jeffrey Sachs said, "The most dangerous country in the world since 1950 has been the United States". The Athens Democracy Forum’s moderator immediately tried to silence Sachs. So much for FREE SPEECH at the Athens Democracy Forum.
Prime minister will be joined by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for two-day trip
Sharif will meet President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and head of the legislature Li Zhanshu
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will travel to China next week, soon after a reshuffle of Beijing’s top leadership.
Sharif will visit China from November 1 at the invitation of outgoing Premier Li Keqiang, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it would be a two-day trip and that Sharif would be joined by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
It will be the Pakistani leader’s first visit to China – the South Asian country’s long-time close ally – since he took power after Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Sharif was among the first foreign leaders to be invited to China after last week’s Communist Party congress, at which Xi Jinping secured a third term as its chief and unveiled a new leadership line-up.
“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners and ‘hardcore’ friends,” Wang told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday.
“China looks forward to working with Pakistan to use this visit as an opportunity to further promote all-weather and high-level strategic cooperation, to build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era, and to make greater contributions to maintaining regional peace and stability, and international fairness and justice.”
Wang said President Xi, Premier Li and Li Zhanshu, head of China’s legislature, would meet Sharif during his visit. The two sides are expected to exchange views on the development of bilateral relations and international and regional issues.
Sharif’s visit comes as Pakistan’s economy is struggling in the wake of political turmoil earlier this year, and amid a devastating flood season that has caused more than 1,600 deaths and displaced millions.
Sharif expressed gratitude to China early this month after Beijing provided more than 644 million yuan (US$88 million) in aid to Pakistan. China has also sent disaster relief supplies and experts to help manage the flood situation since it started in June.
Pakistan’s leader is also likely to raise its debt issues with his Chinese counterparts in Beijing, after the country asked China to roll over its US$6.3 billion debt on Saturday.
The two nations signed a loan facility agreement in June, with Chinese banks lending US$2.3 billion to Pakistan to help boost its reserves.
Sharif is one of several foreign leaders to visit China following the ruling party’s twice-a-decade national congress. On Tuesday it was announced that Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong would travel to China on Sunday.
And German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday confirmed he would visit China in November with a delegation of business leaders. He is expected to discuss trade and other issues, amid tensions over visits to Taiwan by German lawmakers.
Scholz refused to confirm whether he would travel to China with French President Emmanuel Macron, who will reportedly meet Xi for separate talks next month.
This has been the longest that the United States has been without a full-time envoy in India since 1950. Elizabeth Jones has been asked to step in for the job, which is considered a placeholder until a full-time Ambassador is confirmed by the US Congress.
Political turbulence in Pakistan since 2017 has made China “less certain” about whether some of its long-term economic bets will “pay off if there aren’t governments that can sustain their commitments or a really solid political consensus behind these investments,” he added.
Since taking office in April, Sharif has prioritised the revival of the estimated US$62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a Belt and Initiative programme connecting Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.
Sharif hopes his coalition government’s efforts to fast-track the completion of lagging CPEC projects and target militant separatists who have carried out lethal attacks against Chinese nationals have been enough to persuade Beijing to pay huge amounts for mass transit and power generation schemes.
“There have certainly been tactical issues” between Beijing and Islamabad over security and delayed payments to Chinese-owned power projects, said Mustafa Hyder Sayed, executive director of the Pakistan China Institute in Islamabad.
“But strategically the alignment is very robust. Particularly in the wake of the accelerated big power [between nations] competition, we see there are more and more convergences and shared interests with Beijing,” he said.
The US national security strategy unveiled on October 12 prioritised the building of strategic relations with India, with which China and Pakistan have both fought wars over territorial claims.
China knows a “stable and strong” Pakistan is in “the national interest of the People’s Republic,” Sayed said.
Small said Pakistan’s security situation will be at the top of Beijing’s agenda in talks, because of the killing of 13 Chinese nationals in terrorist attacks by Taliban insurgents and ethnic Baloch separatists since July 2021.
During a recent meeting with Sharif during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan, President Xi Jinping hoped Pakistan would protect “the security of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan as well as the lawful rights and interests of Chinese businesses”.
The killing by suicide bomb of nine Chinese men working on the Dasu hydropower project was “a particular shock to the Chinese government, even more so than some of the soft target attacks in Karachi”, said Small.
Beijing’s overall view is that between the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP – the Pakistani Taliban) and the Baloch insurgency, there has been a serious deterioration in the security environment and not enough is being done to protect Chinese workers, Small said, delaying projects’ progress and increasing the risk that China will pull personnel out.
It also means Beijing may use more of its own security staff.
Pakistan has recently arrested the leaders of Baloch insurgent cells responsible for attacks on Chinese nationals in the province of Balochistan and the port city of Karachi, said Abdul Basit, a research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
China is also maintaining pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan to rein in the approximately 5,000 Pakistani Taliban insurgents it hosts, he said.
Despite a Taliban-brokered ceasefire agreed in June, the TTP has launched daily lethal attacks against the security forces and police in the northwest of the country since negotiations broke down in late July.
A major military operation in Pakistan’s tribal districts bordering Afghanistan “is in the offing”, Basit said.
“Beijing is concerned, but it has full trust in the Pakistan Army’s counterterrorism capabilities,” he added.
Speaking at a two-day seminar on US-Pakistan relations, Chinese foreign policy expert Yun Sun said Pakistan’s relationship with the US was a factor in China’s overall strategy for South Asia, but “China has plenty of confidence that its relationship with Pakistan is going to continue regardless of the modality of US-Pakistan relations.”
She, however, said that China was also adjusting or recalibrating its policy and expectations towards Pakistan, especially in terms of the CPEC.
“And from that recalibration there’s almost a welcoming attitude in China that Pakistan should re-balance its external strategy. And there’s a welcoming attitude that Pakistan is reaching out to the United States again,” Ms Yun said.
“This readjustment of Pakistan’s expectations and external alignment strategy has much approval in China.”
The Chinese, she said, did not believe that the recalibration of US-Pakistan relations would come at the expense of China’s interests in the region “because India’s still there and because CPEC will remain one of the most significant campaigns regardless of how people feel about it.”
About China’s reaction to US-Pakistan interactions, she said, “[it] has more to do with what the US has said, rather than what Pakistan has said.
“This is none of your business,” said Ms Yun when asked about China’s reaction to the US suggestion that Pakistan should renegotiate its debt with Beijing.
“Dan, is it none of our business?” Moderator Shamila Chaudhary asked another panelist, Daniel Markey of the US Institute of Peace (USIP).
“At some level, of course, it is our business… We look at its debt burden… have concerns about the growth of its economy. We see Pakistan going to the IMF and other lenders. So, of course, it’s right that the US asks questions about the other forms of debts that Pakistan holds, including from China,” he said. “Gap in transparency is also a cause of concern for us.”
Pakistan’s envoy in Washington, Masood Khan, however, explained how the end of the war in Afghanistan had created an opportunity for Pakistan and the United States to start afresh.
“Pakistan-US relations have been de-hyphenated from India and Afghanistan,” said Ambassador Khan in his keynote address at the two-day conference, organised by the Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR), University of Lahore, the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and Engro Corporation here this week.
“The US policy in the past was based on regional equilibrium,” the ambassador said, adding that the US relationship with India stood on its own. “We are engaged right now to recalibrate, reenergise and rejuvenate a broad-based relationship in the new technological age,” he said.
Others were not as confident. Former Chief of Naval Staff Tahir Afzal suggested correcting past mistakes to build a better relationship. “The relationship needs another event. When there is an event, the relations will be good. When the event is over, we will move from being the cornerstone of US policy to being the most sanctioned country,” he said.
Ms Chaudhary, a non-resident Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council, noted that Pakistan was not even mentioned in the new US national security strategy, released last month, although “there’s a lot of conversation” about the region, as well as Afghanistan and India.
“The strategy is talking around Pakistan, but if you look at the themes of strategy …there’s a lot of fruitful conversation that we can have about how US and Pakistan can collaborate with each other.”
Mr Markey noted that some equate strategic stability in Pakistan with the safety of its nuclear assets. Noting that this was “a very narrow context,” he said, Pakistan was also strategically important to the US because “it’s an enormous country”.
The nuclear issue, however, was “central to the US interests” as it would like to “ensure that these types of weapons are never used”.
The nuclear issue was also “central to Pakistan’s sense of its own security. It is at the core of Pakistan’s security in the region. So, that continues to be a strategic concern,” he said.
Mr Markey noted that the US has a strategic partnership with India, while Pakistan has a strategic partnership with China and this arrangement too has become strategically important as US-China and Pakistan-India relations are strained. The US and Pakistan, he said, “need a firm and established equilibrium… to move forward”.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday said to have secured about $13 billion in additional financial support from two traditional friends — about $9bn from China and over $4bn from Saudi Arabia — on top of assurances for about $20bn investments.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told journalists that during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent visit to Beijing, the Chinese leadership promised to roll over $4bn in sovereign loans, refinance $3.3bn commercial bank loans and increase currency swap by about $1.45bn — from 30bn yuan to 40bn yuan. The total worked out at $8.75bn.
“They promised the security of financial support,” Mr Dar said and quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping as telling Mr Sharif to “don’t worry, we will not let you down”.
Mr Dar said the Pakistani delegation had four major engagements, including meeting with the Chinese president and the prime minister, and the chairman of the National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature.
These would be rolled over whenever they reach maturity, the minister said, adding that about $200 million worth of commercial loans had already flowed in a few days back.
Responding to a question, Mr Dar said the Chinese side had also agreed to fast-track the processing for a $9.8bn high-speed rail project (Main Line-1) from Karachi to Peshawar and both sides would immediately trigger their respective teams.
Another official said the two sides were hoping to arrange bidding for the project by December and negotiations for financing terms and conditions could follow once a bidder is selected.
Mr Dar said the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) and Hyderabad-Karachi motorway projects were also taken up and the KCR would soon be in the implementation phase. The minister said he had also suggested a part of outstanding dues of Chinese power producers to be converted into overall debt stock and had already cleared about Rs160bn in recent months.
Responding to a question, he said Saudi Arabia had also “given a positive response” to Pakistan’s request for increasing its financing by another $3bn to $6bn and doubling its deferred oil facility of $1.2bn.
The two heads worked out at $4.2bn and the finance minister said there was no delay except a month or so of processing time.
Mr Dar said Saudi Arabia had also agreed to revive the $10-12bn petrochemical refining project at Gwadar, for which he had been assigned by the prime minister to coordinate with respective ministries for finalisation.
On top of that, the minister said Pakistan was engaging Saudi Arabia in privatisation transactions like in LNG power projects and shares in other entities to ensure non-debt creating foreign inflows.
Moreover, the minister said another $1.4bn worth of inflows were almost mature, including $500m from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and two World Bank loans of $900m under the national harmonisation of general sales tax.
He said he had a positive meeting with the Sindh chief minister to harmonise GST and the financing envelope could be settled amicably. He noted that harmonising GST was important for World Bank inflows to arrive in the country.
On the exchange rate, the minister insisted that the rupee’s real effective exchange rate (REER) was around Rs194 per dollar, even lower than Rs200. He expected the stakeholders to also keep in mind the national interest instead of “just outrageous profitmaking”.
Pakistan had been engaging with China and Saudi Arabia for financial support, including rolling over maturing loans as part of arrangements for about $35bn putouts against debt and liabilities during the current fiscal year. The minister parried a question relating to the extension in debt repayments of Chinese independent power producers (IPPs).
Muhammad Amir Rana Published November 6, 2022
PAKISTAN is finally getting back on the right diplomatic track. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s successful visits to Riyadh and Beijing have created an air of optimism regarding economic revival in the country. Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s attempts to normalise the country’s relationship with the West using channels in London and Washington are also helping to reduce the external pressure which had been looming over the country for the last several months. That Pakistan is no longer on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) ‘grey list’ is also a good omen.
During the prime minister’s visit to Beijing, China had assured full support for Pakistan’s efforts to stabilise its economy and financial situation. The Pakistani prime minister was the first foreign leader to travel to China since President Xi Jinping won his third term as supreme leader. That has political and strategic significance as well, which is also needed to boost Pakistan’s economic confidence. Earlier, during the prime minister’s visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia reportedly pledged an investment package worth $10 billion for Pakistan. Islamabad is hopeful that the kingdom will resuscitate the mega oil refinery project, which was shelved due to some political complications that had arisen between the two states during the rule of the PTI government.
Gen Bajwa has been successful, for the most part, in repairing the country’s trust deficit with the West, mainly the US, which is essential for generating regional geopolitical balance for Pakistan. These are positive developments which the coalition government and the establishment could use to gain domestic support, as the ongoing political crisis has put them both in a defensive position.
Pakistan had lost its balance in its foreign relations over the last few years. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, and the cipher controversy propagated by former prime minister Imran Khan were the two key events that aggravated that imbalance and caused bitterness in Pakistan’s relationship with the US and the West.
Two other factors caused diplomatic stress for Pakistan. First, Pakistan’s decision to join the short-lived alternative Muslim leadership initiative led by Turkey, Iran, and Malaysia annoyed its friends in the Gulf. Secondly, the Chinese did not like the attempts by the outgoing PTI government to renegotiate the costs of CPEC projects and establish the CPEC Authority. Mr Khan presumed that most of the CPEC projects were scarcely negotiated or done so in a skewed manner. The establishment also believed he could convince China to renegotiate CPEC projects as Malaysia had done the same. However, our power elites ignored the fact that sovereign guarantees were involved in the projects. This reorientation discourse slowed down the CPEC projects.
Mr Khan was not solely responsible for making errors of judgement. It was a collective mistake on the part of the power elites who were overconfident that they could manoeuvre a relationship with their allies in the East and West, despite the country’s weak economy and the crippling impact of the Covid-19 impact on the global economy. The establishment wanted complete control, and Mr Khan joined the venture to remove the tag of PML-N from the CPEC projects.
The New Delhi government fears its expansionist neighbor but is deeply wary about getting in the middle of a brawl with Beijing.
By Hal Brands
So how might India react if China attacked Taiwan? Although India can’t project much military power east of the Malacca Strait, it could still, in theory, do a lot. US officials quietly hope that India might grant access to its Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in the eastern Bay of Bengal, to facilitate a blockade of China’s oil supplies. The Indian Navy could help keep Chinese ships out of the Indian Ocean; perhaps the Indian Army could distract China by turning up the heat in the Himalayas.
New Delhi has a real stake in the survival of a free Taiwan. China has a punishing strategic geography, in that it faces security challenges on land and at sea. If taking Taiwan gave China preeminence in maritime Asia, though, Beijing could then pivot to settle affairs with India on land.
Expect a “turn toward the South” once China’s Taiwan problem is resolved, one Indian defense official told me. And in general, a world in which China is emboldened — and the US and its democratic allies are badly bloodied — by a Taiwan conflict would be very nasty for India.
But none of this ensures that India will cast its lot, militarily or diplomatically, with a pro-Taiwan coalition. Appeals to common democratic values or norms of nonaggression won’t persuade India to aid Taiwan any more than they have induced it to help Ukraine.
Armchair strategists might dream of opening a second front in the Himalayas, but India might be paralyzed by fear that openly aiding the US anywhere would simply give China a pretext to batter overmatched, unprepared Indian forces on their shared frontier.
The Modi government has been happy to have America’s help in dealing with India’s China problem but is far more reluctant to return the favor by courting trouble in the Western Pacific.
What India would do in a Taiwan conflict is really anyone’s guess. The most nuanced assessment I heard came from a longtime Indian diplomat. A decade ago, he said, India would definitely have sat on the sidelines. Today, support for Taiwan and the democratic coalition is conceivable, but not likely. After another five years of tension with China and cooperation with the Quad, though, who knows?
Optimists in Washington might take this assessment as evidence that India is moving in the right direction. Pessimists might point out that there is still a long way to go, and not much time to get there.
By increasing aid to Pakistan, the United States will propel forward its own strategic interests and fulfill humanitarian obligations while simultaneously helping this South Asian nation avert crisis.
Blog Post by Andrew Gordan, Guest Contributor
Pakistan faces a grave and growing crisis. In late summer, historic floods ravaged the South Asian nation, submerging a third of the country under water and displacing millions. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s economy has reached a breaking point and political unrest threatens to throw the nation into further disarray. At the climax of the floods, international media covered the disaster extensively and donor countries—including the United States—rushed in with pledges of assistance. As of November 2022, the United States has delivered $97 million in aid to Pakistan. However, this figure barely registers on the scale of Pakistan’s recovery requirements, estimated at $40 billion. Increasing assistance will not only avert the deepening crisis in Pakistan and fulfill U.S. humanitarian obligations, but will also serve U.S. strategic interests.
The scale of Pakistan’s predicament cannot be understated. Over 1,500 people died and 12,000 were injured in the summer floods. Infrastructure across Pakistan was crippled: thousands of kilometers of road and hundreds of bridges were destroyed, as well as almost two million homes.
Adding pressure in crisis, Pakistan is suffering from high inflation—roughly 26 percent year-on-year in October 2022—and low foreign exchange reserves. As prices for liquified natural gas skyrocket with the war in Ukraine, Pakistan is struggling to secure essential imports. The resumption of International Monetary Fund (IMF) funding in August has done little to plug the gaps. While bilateral creditors have offered debt relief, this is largely confined to allowing the postponement of payments in the short-term and the forgiveness of small amounts of debt.
Political tensions have also added to the challenges in Pakistan, hampering government capacity. After his ouster by a vote of no-confidence in April, former Prime Minister Imran Khan has consolidated his political popularity, challenged the sitting government to hold early elections, and survived an assassination attempt on November 3.
The severity of these converging obstacles underscores the need for adequate U.S. aid to Pakistan. Unfortunately, these days Pakistan has few friends in Washington. Many U.S. observers have accused Pakistan of enabling the Afghan Taliban throughout the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In addition, advocates of the budding U.S.-India relationship worry that engagement with Pakistan might disrupt ties with the Modi administration. Concerns about corruption have also tarnished attempts to build support for more aid.
Despite these concerns, the United States should act to alleviate the crisis in Pakistan. On one hand, if the United States wants to honor its commitments to humanitarianism, aid to Pakistan should be a top moral priority. The Biden administration has pledged to “rally the world to meet our common challenges.” The destructive effects of climate change that Pakistan is suffering today is a common challenge. Furthermore, norms of environmental justice compel countries who built their riches on the degradation of the environment, like the United States, to help Pakistan, one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations and a negligible contributor to historical global emissions.
On the other hand, even American pragmatists should heed Pakistan’s need for aid. Catastrophe in Pakistan is not in the U.S. national interest. A destabilized Pakistan would spell disaster for regional security: a depleted Pakistani government would inevitably give regional militant groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan more breathing room. In addition, a Pakistan in crisis would likely be less capable of performing its role at the center of the new U.S. “over-the-horizon” counter-terrorism strategy. Operations like the recent U.S. killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri require Pakistani support, coordination, and airspace. Finally, as the United States seeks to counterbalance Chinese influence in South Asia, increased aid could capitalize on growing reservations in Pakistan about the tight-knit economic relationship with China.
So how should the United States assist Pakistan? For starters, the overall level of assistance should increase dramatically, as the $97 million pledged thus far will have a minimal impact on Pakistan’s predicament. The United States can help with the flood recovery in other ways: technical teams to support the construction of climate-resilient infrastructure and health supplies to address growing outbreaks of waterborne diseases, for example. The United States can also do more to address Pakistan’s financial health. The recent rollover of the suspension of payments on $132 million in debt was a good start, but the United States must continue to rally international debtors to suspend and restructure Pakistani debt, replenish foreign exchange reserves, and support crucial imports. The future of the South Asian nation, and U.S. regional interests, depend on it.
Treasury Secretary Yellen wants India to be part of the Biden administration’s “friend-shoring” agenda, but trade tensions linger.
The United States is placing India at the center of its ambition to detach global supply chains from the clutches of American adversaries, seeking to cement ties with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies as tensions with China remain high and as Russia’s war in Ukraine upends international commerce.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, the Biden administration’s top economic diplomat, delivered that message in person on Friday during a visit to the Indian capital at a moment of intense global economic uncertainty. Soaring food and energy prices stemming from Russia’s war and heightened concerns about America’s reliance on Chinese products have pushed the United States to try to reshape the global economic order so that allies depend on one another for the goods and services that power their economies.
India is often in the middle of geopolitical jostling between the United States, China and Russia. But as the Biden administration promotes what it calls “friend-shoring,” it is making clear that it wants India to be in America’s orbit of economic allies.
India emerged as a significant obstacle when members of the World Trade Organization tried to reach a suite of agreements at a meeting this year. It has also declined to join negotiations over the trade pillar of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, an Asia-Pacific economic pact proposed by the Biden administration.
In the last few months, India’s long economic relationship with Russia has become increasingly problematic for the United States. India is the world’s largest buyer of Russian munitions — a relationship that is difficult to sever, particularly given India’s tensions with neighboring China and Pakistan. India has refused to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And since the war began, it has become a major buyer of Russian oil, which it is able to purchase on international markets at a discount.
India’s imports from Russia have risen 430 percent since the war in Ukraine began in February, as tankers of Russian crude oil flock to Indian ports. India, which imports a significant amount of energy and is the world’s second-most-populous country, has said it is merely focused on buying oil at the lowest price.
Eswar Prasad, a trade policy at Cornell University who speaks to both American and Indian officials, said that while India wanted to forge a stronger economic relationship with the United States, it was unlikely to distance itself from Russia.
“India has very deep-seated economic interests in maintaining a reliable and relatively cheap supply of oil from Russia,” said Mr. Prasad, a former official with the International Monetary Fund.
The American embrace of India comes as the United States and its European allies are racing to complete the terms of a plan to cap the price of Russian oil. The initiative must be in place by Dec. 5, when a European embargo and maritime insurance ban goes into effect, potentially disrupting the flow of Russian oil around the world.
“In a world where supply chain vulnerabilities can impose heavy costs, we believe it’s important to strengthen our trade ties with India and the large number of countries that share our approach to economic relations,” she said.
Sadanand Dhume, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said India faced several challenges in becoming a hub for international manufacturing, including government reforms that had not yet “appreciably” made it a more attractive destination for companies. And compared with China, India’s domestic consumer market is smaller and therefore less attractive for companies that manufacture there.
The price cap would essentially create an exception to Western sanctions, allowing Russian oil to be sold and shipped as long as it remained below a certain price, a level that has yet to be determined.
India has been circumspect about the proposal, but Treasury Department officials say the United States is not trying to push it to formally join its coalition. Instead, they are hopeful that India will use the price cap as leverage to negotiate lower prices with Russia, depriving Mr. Putin of revenue but keeping the nation’s oil flowing.
However, Ms. Yellen emphasized in her speech that relying on Russian oil came with risks.
“Russia has long presented itself as a reliable energy partner,” Ms. Yellen said. “But for the better part of this year, Putin has weaponized Russia’s natural gas supply against the people of Europe.
The Treasury secretary added: “It’s an example of how malicious actors can use their market positions to try to gain geopolitical leverage or disrupt trade for their own gain.”
Atul Keshap, the president of the U.S.-India Business Council, said there were many opportunities for economic partnership between the United States and India, especially in setting up secure supply chains for strategic technologies like semiconductors, electric vehicle batteries, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and drones.
“You look at the headlines, you look at the risks to the supply chain,” Mr. Keshap said. “You look at the uncertainties of the last two or three years, and countries like India have an opportunity.”
But business leaders and trade experts say the U.S. and Indian governments have thus far failed to realize those opportunities. Talks for a trade deal with India briefly flourished during the Trump administration, but a series of persistent economic issues — ranging from India’s barriers for U.S. agricultural goods and medical devices to its lack of protection for U.S. intellectual property — have made any agreement difficult to reach.
A U.S. program that lowered tariffs on imports from poorer countries, including India, lapsed in 2020, and there has not been enough support in Congress to reinstate it. At a 2021 trade meeting in New Delhi, the sides made some headway on opening trade for American pork, cherries and alfalfa hay, and Indian mangoes and pomegranates.
A U.S.-India trade policy forum eyed for Nov. 8 in Washington was pushed back to give officials more time to achieve more substantive outcomes, a representative from the Office of the United States Trade Representative said.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of her meetings on Friday, Ms. Yellen said that reducing tariffs was not currently part of the discussions with India, but that the two sides had been talking about other “trade facilitation” measures to reduce non-tariff barriers.
According to Mr. Prasad, who is also a former I.M.F. official, there is lingering skepticism in India about the durability of America’s good intentions in the aftermath of the tariffs that former President Donald J. Trump enacted.
“There is a layer of apprehension if not outright mistrust in Delhi,” Mr. Prasad said.
Ms. Yellen came to India to show that, despite their differences, the United States can be a trusted partner. On Friday, she also met with India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman.
India is an invaluable global ally while Pakistan is a valuable partner in a sensitive region, the US State Department said while explaining its relations with the two South Asian nations.
“India is an invaluable partner, not just in the region as it relates to a lot of the United States’ shared priorities across the world,” said the department’s Principal Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel while commenting on Washington’s ties with New Delhi. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar “remain in close touch as the need to”.
In sum, the US expects India to play a global role, while it expects Pakistan to play a role as an important ally in combating terrorism and stabilising Afghanistan.
At a gathering of Indian-Americans in Washington, US Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for forging a consensus during the recently concluded G20 Summit. “When the US and President Biden look for partners that can truly help carry the load, truly help move forward a global agenda, India and PM Modi are high up on that list,” he said. “We just saw this in real time at the G20 meet, where the PM was instrumental in forging a consensus around a joint statement among a far-flung group of countries,” he said.
India will host the G20 leaders’ summit later in 2023.
On its webpage, the State Department says “the US-India strategic partnership is founded on shared values, including a commitment to democracy and upholding the rules-based international system. The US and India have shared interests in promoting global security, stability, and economic prosperity through trade, investment and connectivity”, it said.
In 2018, Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a Saudi dissident living in exile, went missing after he went inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork for an impending marriage. Saudi agents killed and dismembered him in an operation, which US intelligence believed was ordered by the Crown Prince.
The Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), has denied ordering the killing but later acknowledged that it took place “under my watch”.
During his presidential election campaign, Biden had given assurances that he would ensure that the killing would have consequences and vowed to treat the Saudi ruler as a “pariah”. However, as President, Biden had to ease tensions in a bid to lower world oil prices, including visiting the Saudi Kingdom and fist-bumping the Crown Prince.
In a court filing last Thursday, the US Department of Justice said that it has determined that the Crown Prince has legal immunity from the 2018 lawsuit filed against him by Khashoggi’s fiancée and rights group, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).
The US state department explained further on Friday that the immunity “flows directly from the crown prince’s role as prime minister, which is the head of government, which he was appointed to earlier this year”.
Asserting that it was not based on the merits of the case, the US state department’s principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel reiterated, “This designation only applies to the crown prince in his role of head of government”.
When asked if there had been previous cases, Patel answered that it was “not the first time” that the US government has designated immunity to foreign leaders and listed four instances.
“Some examples: President Aristide in Haiti in 1993; President Mugabe in Zimbabwe in 2001; Prime Minister Modi in India in 2014; and President Kabila in the DRC in 2018. This is a consistent practice that we have afforded to heads of state, heads of government, and foreign ministers,” he said.
Patel was harking back to the chronicle that began with Modi’s previous denial of a US visa as Gujarat chief minister in 2005 on the grounds of being “responsible for the performance of state institutions” at the time of the 2002 riots.
After the 2014 election victory, Modi was quickly given an invitation by Washington. The signs of reconciliation had already been showing ahead of the general elections, when the US ambassador went to Ahmedabad for a two-hour meeting with Modi.
Just before his first trip to the US as Prime Minister, a US federal court issued summons for Modi to respond to a lawsuit that accused him of human rights violations in connection with the Gujarat riots.
Three weeks later, in October 2014, then US attorney Preet Bharara told the Federal court in New York that the US government had determined that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the sitting head of a foreign government, enjoys head of state immunity from the jurisdiction of US courts”.
The executive’s determination of immunity is non-binding, and it is left to the judge to decide on its applicability. The US District Judge upheld the state department’s determination of Modi’s immunity and dismissed the case in January 2015.
Bagchi also said reports about the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in December were incorrect
India is upset at a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by a US State Department official while defending the immunity it had extended to Saudi Arabian ruler Mohammad bin Sultan, who is facing allegations of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Frankly, I fail to understand how the comment on Prime Minister Modi was either relevant, necessary or contextual,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said responding to questions about a US official referring to Modi while explaining the reasons for granting immunity to the Saudi ruler.
“Our two countries enjoy a very special relationship which is growing from strength to strength and we look forward to working with the US to further deepen it,” he said, referring to the bilateral ties between India and the US.
When asked about giving immunity to the Saudi Crown Prince over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a briefing last Friday that this is not the first time that the US has done this and it has been applied to a number of heads of state previously, including PM Modi, according to reports.
Bagchi also said reports about the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in December were incorrect.
“No proposal for a visit by the Prime Minister to the US in December has been made by our side. Media reports in this regard are incorrect,” Bagchi said.
He also dismissed social media posts about “false comments” attributed to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and White House spokesperson with regard to the brief bilateral meeting between Modi and US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the recent G-20 summit in Bali.
“We have seen some incorrect social media posts which attribute false statements to the External Affairs Minister, who has not made any comment on this to the press or on social media. It also attributes false statements to the White House press secretary. So, I would request you all not to lend credence to such incorrect information,” Bagchi said.
He said the prime minister met Biden on a number of occasions in the course of the Bali Summit, including a brief bilateral meeting and a trilateral meeting that involved Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
“During these interactions, they exchanged views on a number of issues. Our press releases and tweets as well as the foreign secretary’s briefing in Bali encapsulates all these conversations.
“The US side has also issued its readout of the trilateral meeting and also separately indicated that a brief bilateral meeting did take place between the two leaders,” Bagchi said.
Beijing’s military and infrastructure advantage has transformed the crisis and left New Delhi on the defensive.
The widening power gap between India and China—military, technological, economic, and diplomatic—now constrains New Delhi’s options on the border. It also raises tough questions for India’s geopolitical partnerships, such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (known as the Quad), and its aggressive approach toward Pakistan. The border crisis will hang over India’s decision-making for the foreseeable future.
The risk of an accidental military escalation between Asia’s most populous countries—both nuclear powers—has increased significantly since 2020. This will continue unless Modi and Xi find a new modus vivendi. Establishing guardrails in the relationship will require political imagination and an honest appraisal of relative strengths; failing that, New Delhi faces tough geopolitical choices. It has so far eschewed any security-centric step with the Quad that could provoke Beijing, but murmurs from its partners about reticent Indian policy are bound to get louder. Meanwhile, India’s reliance on Russia for military equipment and ammunition now falls under a cloud of suspicion. And an unstable border with China prevents India from targeting Pakistan, a tactic that has proved politically rewarding for Modi.
This marks the third straight winter that around 50,000 Indian reinforcements will spend in Ladakh’s inhospitable terrain in the northern Himalayas, warding off an equal number of Chinese troops stationed a few miles away. Despite intermittent dialogue between the two militaries, Indian Army Chief Gen. Manoj Pande recently confirmed that China has not reduced its forces at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Chinese infrastructure construction along the border is “going on unabated,” he said—confirmed by independent satellite imagery and echoed by the latest U.S. Defense Department report on China. Pande said the situation is “stable but unpredictable.” That unpredictability has become structural.
India’s military and political leaders now confront a reality at the border that should have jolted them into serious action: China has a distinct advantage over India, which it has consolidated since 2020. By investing in a long-term military presence in one of the most remote places on Earth, the PLA has considerably reduced the time it would need to launch a military operation against India. New military garrisons, roads, and bridges would allow for rapid deployment and make clear that Beijing is not considering a broader retreat. The Indian military has responded by diverting certain forces intended for the border with Pakistan toward its disputed border with China. It has deployed additional ground forces to prevent further PLA ingress in Ladakh and constructed supporting infrastructure. Meanwhile, New Delhi’s political leadership is conspicuous in its silence, projecting a sense of normalcy.
Beijing refuses to discuss two of the areas in Ladakh, where its forces have blocked Indian patrols since 2020. In five other areas, Chinese troops have stepped back by a few miles but asked India to do the same and create a no-patrolling zone. This move denies India its right to patrol areas as planned before the border crisis began. The PLA has flatly refused to discuss de-escalation, in which both armies would pull back by a substantive distance. The question of each side withdrawing its additional troops from Ladakh is not even on the agenda. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson rejected any demand to restore the situation along the LAC as it existed before May 2020. The PLA continues to downplay the severity of the situation, instead emphasizing stability in its ties with India.
It would mark only the second time the leaders of India and Russia haven’t met face to face since 2000, when the relationship was elevated to a strategic partnership. The summit, usually held in December, was cancelled just once in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Bloomberg, Modi’s government is trying to balance between Moscow, a key provider of weapons and cheap energy, and the United States and its allies, which have imposed sanctions and price caps on Russian oil.
Since Russia’s invasion began, India has been one of the biggest swing nations. Modi’s government abstained from United Nations votes to condemn Putin’s war and held back from participating in U.S.-led efforts to sanction Moscow, using the opportunity to snatch up cheap Russian oil.
US shares multifaceted relationships with India and Pakistan and does not want to see a "war of words" but a constructive dialogue between the two nations for the betterment of their people, a top US official has said.
Relations between India and Pakistan have often been strained over the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
"We have a global strategic partnership with India. I have also spoken about the deep partnership we have with Pakistan. These relationships in our mind are not zero-sum. We do not view them in relation to one another," US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday when asked about the recent outburst against Prime Minister Narendra Modi by Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in New York.
Price said each of these relationships is indispensable to the US and to the promotion and pursuit of the shared goals that the US has with India and Pakistan.
"The fact that we have partnerships with both countries leaves us not wanting to see a war of words between India and Pakistan. We would like to see a constructive dialogue between India and Pakistan. We think that is for the betterment of the Pakistani and Indian people. There is much work that we can do together bilaterally," Price said in response to the question.
"There are differences that, of course, need to be addressed between India and Pakistan. The United States stands ready to assist as a partner to both," he asserted.
The ties between India and Pakistan nosedived after India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the State into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019.
Pakistan foreign minister Bhutto-Zardari last week resorted to a personal attack on Prime Minister Modi and slammed the RSS after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told the UN Security Council that the "contemporary epicentre of terrorism" remains very much active and called for collective action to tackle them.
Though Jaishankar did not name any countries, it was apparent that he was making a veiled reference to Pakistan.
Later, he told reporters in New York that the world sees Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism and recalled US leader Hillary Clinton's blunt message to Islamabad in 2011 that snakes in one's backyard will eventually bite those who keep them.
"The US has a global strategic partnership with India. These relationships stand on their own; it is not zero-sum.
"We see the importance - the indispensability really - of maintaining valuable partnerships with both our Indian and Pakistani friends. Each of these relationships also happens to be multifaceted," Price said.
"So even as we deepen our global strategic partnership with India, we also have a relationship in which we can be candid and frank with one another. Where we have disagreements or concerns, we voice those just as we would with our Pakistani friends as well," he said.
It is a bipartisan legacy of the last several administrations, perhaps starting most notably with the administration of former US President George W Bush that the US is now a partner of "first resort" for India, he said.
"There is a lot of good that we can do together, not only for our two countries, but around the world, and I think we will see a good example of that in the coming year when India hosts the G20," he said.
"I know we will have an opportunity to travel to India, to be in close touch with India in the context of the G20, and we will be able to see what cooperation between our two countries and a broader set of countries can provide," Price added.
A Report of the Pakistan Study Group
Over the last decade, several aspects of the US-Pakistan relationship have changed. Most importantly, a US-India entente has emerged, and a peer rivalry between China and the US is developing. Meanwhile, Pakistan has probably learned a few lessons from Afghanistan as well as from the blowback of its support for militancy in India-controlled Kashmir. A geostrategic competition with Russia and China that involves Pakistan and Afghanistan is also occurring in Asia. So now may be an opportune moment to lay the foundations for a sustainable US-Pakistan relationship.
A modest, pragmatic relationship between the US and Pakistan, one not based on exaggerated expectations on both sides, would involve understanding the following:
Pakistan and the US will continue to see Afghanistan through different lenses but can cooperate to maintain peace in that country and alleviate its people’s suffering.
Attitudes toward India at both the elite and popular levels in Pakistan will, at best, change slowly.
Public opinion in both the US and Pakistan acts as a constraint on bilateral relations.
There is little the US can do to induce Pakistan to change its overall strategic calculus, which is based on Pakistan’s understanding of its security environment.
The US and Pakistan have divergent views on China.
Need for New Policy Ideas
The US has tried both years of sustained engagement with large-scale aid and years of using sticks while withholding carrots, but Pakistan has not altered its policies. At the same time, Pakistan’s close economic and political relationship with China is unlikely to diminish, and Islamabad will probably retain expanded ties with Russia.
With these caveats in mind, policymakers should consider what is attainable and whether the two countries can achieve a relationship based on mutual interest. Relying on either inducements or threats to encourage greater cooperation has apparent limits. Moving forward, the two sides would benefit by developing a framework for pragmatic engagement.
However, policymakers should avoid overestimating the possibilities of, or demanding, a complete convergence of interests between Pakistan and the US. Instead of allowing existing differences to define the partnership, both countries should recognize that they need to understand the other’s interests so that they can find a way to collaborate on areas of mutual concern.
American policymakers also need to think of more options beyond either giving or denying vast amounts of aid to coerce Pakistan into changing its policies. Pakistan’s leaders, too, need to move beyond the fantasy that Pakistan is “critical” to America so that US policymakers will always focus on it.
There is also a need for acceptance within the Pakistani leadership that all of Pakistan’s problems, especially terrorism and militancy, cannot be laid at the door of the US.
Areas of Shared Interest
US-Pakistan policy has had a circular quality over the decades. While some in the US do not view relations with Pakistan as important, circumstances may change so that Pakistan may once again figure prominently in American security interests. Therefore, policymakers should consider under what circumstances this might occur. What upcoming crisis could cause such a shift, and how can Washington constructively prepare for it by improving relations with Pakistan?
Historically, US departures from the region have not worked out well for American interests. In its absence, developments took place that led the US to regret its inability to exert influence. Over the 1990s, al-Qaeda emerged with Pakistan’s assistance as a global terrorist threat, the subcontinent developed nuclear weapons, and India and Pakistan engaged in armed conflict that could be resolved only through US reengagement as a mediator.
The United States has offered to help Pakistan in dealing with the terror threat posed by the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Recent developments indicate that a conversation between Pakistan and the U.S. in this regard may have begun, allowing space for coordinated action against TTP and other militant groups.
Addressing a news briefing last week, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that Pakistan remains an important security partner. Highlighting concerns regarding militant threats in the region, he said terrorist groups are “present in Afghanistan, in the Afghan-Pakistan border region that present a clear threat as we’re seeing not only to Pakistan but potentially to countries and people beyond.”
“We’re in regular dialogue with our Pakistani partners. We are prepared to help them take on the threats they face,” he added.
Ahead of the State Department’s comments that indicate an eventual partnership between the two countries, U.S. Central Command chief, General Michael Erik Kurilla, visited the Torkham-Afghanistan border crossing and hailed Pakistan’s gains in the fight against terrorism. During his meeting with Pakistan’s top military leadership, Kurilla also discussed prospects to strengthen the military-to-military relationship and opportunities for addressing the TTP threat.
A government source told The Diplomat that Gen. Kurilla’s visit was aimed at conveying to Pakistan that the U.S. understands, perhaps even sympathetic to Pakistan’s security concerns emanating from Afghanistan and remains ready to assist. The source further said that both countries broadly agree that Afghanistan under the Afghan Taliban should “remain peaceful” and that international militant groups, including the TTP, should not establish sanctuaries there.
It seems that the TTP fears that the U.S. may be working with Pakistan to take action on its leadership inside Afghanistan.
“America should stop teasing us by interfering in our affairs unnecessarily at the instigation of Pakistan — this cruel decision shows the failure of American politics,” TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud told CNN in an interview. The recent suicide bombing carried out by the TTP in Islamabad and the U.S. embassy’s alert for citizens in Pakistan underscores that the militant outfit sees the forthcoming cooperation between Islamabad and Washington as a development of concern and may want to hamper it.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari who returned from a week-long visit to the U.S. earlier this week, revealed that Washington is willing to offer Pakistan financial assistance to improve border security for preventing cross-border attacks from Afghanistan. However, the details of the funding for border security have not been made public yet.
In a surprise development recently, the U.S. Senate approved $200 million for programs on gender equality in Pakistan and also highlighted the need to combat terrorism in the country. It is unclear how these funds will be used but the omnibus bill passed by the Senate for 2023 mentions that funds appropriated for the country under the heading “Foreign Military Financing Programme” can be “made available only to support counterterrorism and counter insurgency capabilities in Pakistan.”
Besides, reports suggest that Pakistan may also be interested in obtaining more military hardware from the U.S. to enhance its border patrol capabilities to better detect the movement of the TTP and other militant groups along the Afghan border. Additionally, both countries may push to readjust their intelligence cooperation to deal with terror threats emanating from Afghanistan. It is unclear if the cooperation against the TTP and other extremist groups will also include taking the fight inside Afghanistan.
The U.S. has reiterated many times that it will take action if terrorists regroup in Afghanistan. The killing of al-Qaida leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul was one instance of such action.
However, if history is any lesson, Pakistan should know that entering into a broad-based counterterrorism partnership with the U.S. carries its own risks. It is unclear how far Pakistan’s leadership will be willing to go with regard to such cooperation with the U.S. to tackle the TTP and other groups.
In the past, Washington has pushed for a partnership with Islamabad that goes beyond targeting TTP and perhaps involved action against groups like al-Qaida, Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) and other terrorist groups that the U.S. considers a threat. Pakistan, on the other hand, may only be interested in enlisting U.S. support to weaken the TTP in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Arguably, Pakistan wouldn’t be interested in becoming a staging post for U.S. counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond, as such a scenario could push Pakistan’s already troubled relationship with the Afghan Taliban to a point of no return. The situation has the potential to create more security complications for Pakistan as Islamabad could end up having more enemies than just the TTP on the Pak-Afghan border region. This increases the potential of a backlash on a greater scale.
On the whole, Pakistan and the U.S. share interests in tackling militant threats on the Pak-Afghan border. But the real issue rests with the scope of the cooperation as Pakistan’s military policy will need to walk a fine line between tackling TTP and avoiding broader backlash.
The United States has thrown its weight behind the counter-terrorism decisions taken by the National Security Committee (NSC) in its recent meeting, saying “Pakistan has a right to defend itself from terrorism”.
The statement from US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price comes two days after the NSC — the highest civil-military forum for decisions on matters pertaining to national security — expressed firm resolve to crush terrorist groups operating against Pakistan.
In the NSC meeting that spanned for two days from Dec 31 to Jan 1, the forum had categorically asked Afghanistan’s rulers — without directly naming them — to deny safe haven to Pakistani terrorist groups on its soil and end their patronage, while reiterating its intent to crush terrorist groups operating inside the country with full force.
The uncharacteristically strong-worded statement issued at the end of the NSC meeting said: “Pakistan’s security is uncompromisable and the full writ of the state will be maintained on every inch of Pakistan’s territory.”
Meanwhile, Jaishankar is harping on "Pak terror"
"Why Don't I Hear European Condemnation...?" S Jaishankar On Pak, Terror
The foreign minister also hit out at the European countries for not condemning Pakistan. "When we speak about judgments and principles, why don't I hear sharp European condemnation of these practices that have been going on for decades?" he said.
By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. State Department Counselor Derek Chollet will lead a delegation to Pakistan this week as Washington and Islamabad seek to repair ties strained under former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The U.S. delegation will visit Bangladesh and Pakistan from Feb. 14-18 to meet with senior government officials, civil society members and business leaders, the State Department said in a statement on Monday.
Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament last April, had antagonized the United States throughout his tenure. He welcomed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 and accused Washington of being behind the attempt to oust him in 2022.
Washington and Pakistan's National Security Council, a body of top civil and military leaders, dismissed his accusations. Khan was succeeded as prime minister by Shehbaz Sharif.
The U.S. delegation's visit comes as the $350-billion economy of Pakistan is still reeling from devastating floods last year that left at least 1,700 people dead, and the government estimates rebuilding efforts will cost $16 billion.
The nuclear-armed nation is in the grip of a full-blown economic crisis. Talks between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund were scheduled to resume online this week after 10 days of face-to-face discussions in Islamabad on how to keep the country afloat ended without a deal on Friday.
The Dawn newspaper reported late in January that Pakistan had sought U.S. support to unlock the stalled IMF program that would release $1.1 billion to its strained economy as the country rebuilds.
The United States brought its most advanced fighter jet, the F-35, to India for the first time this week alongside F-16s, Super Hornets and B-1B bombers as Washington looks to woo New Delhi away from its traditional military supplier, Russia.
India, desperate to modernise its largely Soviet-era fighter jet fleet to boost its air power, is concerned about Russian supply delays due to the Ukraine war and faces pressure from the West to distance itself from Moscow.
The American delegation to the week-long Aero India show in Bengaluru, which ends on Friday, is the biggest in the 27-year history of the show and underlines the growing strategic relationship between the United States and India.
In contrast, Russia, India's largest weapons supplier since the Soviet Union days, had a nominal presence. Its state-owned weapons exporter Rosoboronexport had a joint stall with United Aircraft and Almaz-Antey, displaying miniature models of aircraft, trucks, radars and tanks.
At previous editions of the show, Rosoboronexport had a more central position for its stall, although Russia has not brought a fighter jet to Bengaluru for a decade after India began considering more European and U.S. fighter jets.
Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets have already entered the race to supply fighter jets for the Indian Navy's second aircraft carrier and Lockheed Martin's F-21, an upgraded F-16 designed for India unveiled at Aero India in 2019, are also being offered to the air force.
A $20 billion air force proposal to buy 114 multi-role fighter aircraft has been pending for five years, brought into sharp focus by tensions with China and Pakistan.
The F-35 is not being considered by India "as of now", according to an Indian Air Force (IAF) source, but the display of two F-35s at Aero India for the first time was a sign of New Delhi's growing strategic importance to Washington.
It was "not a sales pitch" but rather a signal to the importance of the bilateral defence relationship in the Indo-Pacific region, said Angad Singh, an independent defence analyst.
"Even if weapons sales aren't the cornerstone of the relationship, there is a cooperation and collaboration at the military level between India and the U.S.," he added.
The United States is selective about which countries it allows to buy the F-35. When asked if it would be offered to India, Rear Admiral Michael L. Baker, defence attache at the U.S. embassy in India, said New Delhi was in the "very early stages" of considering whether it wanted the plane.
An IAF spokeperson did not respond to a request for comment on its interest in F-35s.
Ahead of the show, Russian state news agencies reported that Moscow had supplied New Delhi with around $13 billion of arms in the past five years and had placed orders for $10 billion.
The United States has approved arms sales worth more than $6 billion to India in the last six years, including transport aircraft, Apache, Chinook and MH-60 helicopters, missiles, air defence systems, naval guns and P-8I Poseidon surveillance aircraft.
India also wants to manufacture more defence equipment at home in collaboration with global giants, first to meet its own needs and eventually to export sophisticated weapons platforms.
* The Taliban victory in Afghanistan has given an enormous boost to the morale of terrorists throughout the region.
* The role of ISKP in Afghanistan is very murky as it is not a monolithic organisation and has ties to Taliban factions. These include the Haqqani Network who also have a long association with al-Qaeda.
* The Pakistani military’s strategic support for the Taliban in Afghanistan strengthens the forces of terrorism that threaten the very nature of the Pakistani state.
* Iran has aspirations to be the dominant player in both the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.
* Backed by Iran, the Houthis in Yemen are a very well organised, disciplined organisation and have advanced their strategic interests in Yemen against Saudi Arabia.
* The combination of location, leadership, and success in counter-terrorism has made Jordan a key and stable ally against al-Qaeda and ISIS.
SG – Dr. Sajjan Gohel
BR – Bruce Riedel
SG: So that’s just another additional challenge that we’re going to have to face on top of everything else that is occurring. You have mentioned several times in our discussions about Pakistan. So, let’s look at that a little further in depth. What can we say about the role of Pakistan in the region? Are they still potentially going to be an ally in name, but will question marks still remain about their role? The fact that President Biden has still not spoken to Prime Minister Imran Khan as yet—does that matter? The fact that it seems Pakistan’s military worked with the Taliban to enable their takeover of Afghanistan in 2021—what can we say about the role of Pakistan and where that’s heading in 2022?
BR: I think the single issue that worries me the most in the current global environment is whether or not the Pakistani army, particularly the officer corps, and particularly those officers associated with the intelligence department, ISI, come away from Afghanistan with a sense of victory in jubilation. After all, a very convincing case can be made that the Pakistani army has now defeated two superpowers in the course of the last several decades—first the Soviets, and now the Americans. Will that sense of enthusiasm that they’ve done it again—will they now start turning their attention to enemy number one, which is India. And will they look to increase tensions in Kashmir and elsewhere to try to put pressure on the Indians to compel the withdrawal of Indian forces from the Kashmir Valley. It’s too soon to say whether that’s going to be the case, but I’m very concerned about that.
In that environment, is Imran Khan going to be a hedge, is he going to be a constraint on them? Imran Khan is all over the map on these issues in the course of his career, but most recently, since he became prime minister, he’s been very closely associated with the Pakistani army. That’s not a reason for ignoring him. If we can talk to Vladimir Putin, we can certainly talk to Imran Khan. That doesn’t mean we’re going to agree. There are going to be many things we disagree on. But it’s very, very important to engage the Pakistanis on these issues. Pakistan is the fourth largest country in the world in terms of population. It has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. It is China’s number one ally. This is a very, very important country in its own right. Leave aside Afghanistan. Pakistan should be considered one of the most important countries in the world for the United States to engage with. Iran, in many ways, is a Pakistan wanna-be—it doesn’t have nuclear weapons yet, it doesn’t have delivery systems, it doesn’t have a working military-to-military relationship with China. This is a country that we need to pay much more attention to, and that starts with a phone call from the president to Imran Khan.
We’ve lately been talking about aircraft which have gone for combat several times. Now we’ve been thinking of some statistics of various fighter aircraft in use. Below you can find the details – but first of all we would like to show you an overview, created by Wojtek Korsak, based on this article. Thanks for that Wojtek. Click enlarge. If it is still to small: Press and hold Ctrl and scroll up with your mouse.
The Format is:
[Name of aircraft] Air-to-air kills – Air-to-air losses – Losses to ground fire
[Name of conflict aircraft was used in]
[Nation that used aircraft in said conflict]
Air-to-air kills – Air-to-air losses – Losses to ground fire
Aircraft which were destroyed on the ground are not included in this analysis, because any plane can get destroyed on the ground no matter how good it or its pilot is.
F-16 Falcon 76-1-5
Gulf War (USA) 0-0-3
No-Fly Zones (USA) 2-0-0
Bosnia (USA) 4-0-1
Kosovo (USA) 1-0-1
Kosovo (Netherlands) 1-0-0
Kosovo (Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, Turkey) 0-0-0
Afghanistan (USA, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway) 0-0-0
Iraq (USA) 0-0-0
Syrian border clashes 1979-1986 (Israel) 6-0-0
Operation Opera (Israel) 0-0-0
Lebanon War (1982) (Israel) 44-0-0
Lebanon War (2006) (Israel) 3-0-0
Intifada (2000-present) (Israel) 0-0-0
Soviet-Afghan War (Pakistan) 10-0-0
Border clashes (Pakistan) 1-0-0
Kargil War (Pakistan) 0-0-0
Northwest border wars (Pakistan) 0-0-0
Aegean Sea clashes (Turkey) 1-1-0
Venezuelan Coup 1992 (Venezuela) 3-0-0