- By Sajjad Shaukat
During the last two decades, political analysts have been opining that the US which is acting upon a secret strategy, wants to make India the superpower of Asia in order to counterbalance China, while this game was, openly, disclosed by the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was on three-day trip to India in 2011.
In this respect, on July 20, 2011, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged India to be more assertive in Asia, saying that the country should play more of a leadership role. She explained, “India has the potential to positively shape the future of the Asia-Pacific.” Clinton further stated, “India should play a role as a US ally in regional forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).” On the other hand, while concealing American double game, She remarked, “New Delhi could also help promote trade links in violence-wracked South Asia, which would bring prosperity and peace to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan…Pakistan must do more to tackle terror groups operating from its territory being used for attacks that destabilize Afghanistan or India.”
During his trip to Australia, on November 17, 2011, President Barrack Obama, while sending an unmistakable message to Beijing said, “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay.” The then US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta also made statements in this connection during his Asia visit. He revealed during his visit to Singapore that the US will shift a majority of its warships to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020 as part of a new US military strategy in Asia. Panetta’s Asia visit came at a time of renewed tension between China and Philippines, the latter being a major US ally.
With regards to strengthening its position in the Pacific, America has also cultivated security relations with New Zealand. It is also working with several Gulf countries to solidify its entrenchment in the region. American strategic thinkers take China’s military modernization as a great threat to its military bases in the continent.
During American President Barack Obama’s visit to India, on January 25, 2010, the US and India announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology. On November 2, 2010, US agreed to sell India the most expensive—the new F-35 fighter jets including US F-16 and F-18 fighters, C-17 and C-130 aircraft, radar systems, Harpoon weapons etc. Besides acquisition of arms and weapons from other western countries—especially Israel, America is a potential military supplier to India.
During President Obama’s second visit to India, the US ensured India to permit American companies to supply India with civilian nuclear technology, as agreed upon in 2008. US President Obama also announced $4 billion of new initiatives aimed at boosting trade and investment ties as well as jobs in India.
However, setting aside the Indian irresponsible record of non-proliferation, and safety of nuclear arms, Washington also pressurized the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to sign an accord of specific safeguards with India. America had already contacted the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to grant a waiver to India for starting civil nuclear trade on larger scale.
As part of the double game, based in Afghanistan, operatives of American CIA, India RAW and Israeli Mossad which have well-established their secret network in Afghanistan, and are well-penetrated in the terrorist outfits like ISIS, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their affiliated Taliban groups are using their terrorists to destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan by arranging the subversive activities. In this context, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is their special target. Recent acts of terrorism in Pakistan’s Balochistan are part of the same scheme.
Undoubtedly, in case of Balochistan, these militant outfits and separatist groups like the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and their affiliated groups, including Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and Lashkar-i-Janghvi which have been creating unrest in the Balochistan get logistic support from RAW and Mossad with the tactical assistance of America. In the recent years, these terrorist outfits massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. These externally-supported insurgent groups had kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan, including Iranian diplomats. They have claimed responsibility for a number of terror assaults, including those on Shias in Balochsitan and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan.
Notably, located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar deep seaport which is the main part of the CPEC is close to the Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its location among South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further increased its strategic significance. Besides, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources irritate the eyes of the US, India and Israel which intend to weaken Pakistan for their collective aims.
In this context, in his book, titled “The Pivot: Future of American Statecraft in Asia,” published in June 7, 2016, America’s former assistant secretary of state Kurt M. Campbell has confirmed a new major shift in American foreign policy and its interests in Asia, while the US-led entities have already been playing out American foreign policy drama far from the upheaval in the Middle East and South Asia and the hovering drone attacks under the cover of the so-called the war on terror.
After destabilizing the region of the Middle East, the US is making giant strides in Asia Pacific in term of political, economic and military engagement. The main aim of Pivot to Asia Pacific is to counter a rising China, as the Campbell has analyzed.
The main irritant to US/India is “Pak-China Partnership”, particularly the CPEC project. Surprisingly, the book has not given importance to the said project, but it needs no justification that it is the only irritant for US and its lynchpin in Pacific, India to gain larger role in Asia.
The book holds significance for Pakistan, because it is, in fact, premised on the idea to contain Chinese hegemony in the region. The book offers a deep insight into US Asia Pivot policy.
But, by closely analyzing the US policy, there is a need to develop a counter strategy seeking guidance from ten point strategy which the author has recommended for America to implement Asia Pivot in the Pacific region.
Plan for the Pivot is composed of ten core elements including: clarifying the Pivot and mobilizing the public by Presidential speeches and statements as well as an annual strategy documents, articulating a whole-of-government approach to Asia.
While, bolstering and integrating alliances to the American Asia allies, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philipines, Thailand, and Singapore (a quasi ally)—setting the contours of China’s rise by embedding China policy fully within a larger Asia policy framework, building partnership with Taiwan and New Zealand as well as new partners including India, Vietnam, Indonesia—Malaysia and the Pacific island states, embracing economic statecraft through the expansion of free trade agreements and economic interaction, including through the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), engaging regional institutions, diversifying military forces, promoting democratic values, strengthening people to people ties involving European partners, the heart of author’s argument is a 10-point American strategy for Asia, in which he sets out in considerable details—his recommendations for intensified political, economic and military engagement with the various nations of the continent. But, he ignored the fact that the real game changer in the region will be CPEC which will result in dependence of the US and its allies on Pak-China Gwadar port for sea routes to Asia Pacific.
Given his diplomatic experience, the author is well-informed and deeply thoughtful. He is considered as pioneer of “Asia Pivot Policy”. Campbell’s main emphasis has been on greater boots and greater engagement in the Asia Pacific region without realizing the US role in Middle East and Afghanistan. While, without a stable Middle East, US would not be able to implement the economic aspects of the Pivot, as narrated by Campbell, because the two regions are separated apart by huge distances. A tumultuous and neglected Middle East will not augment well for Asian Century.
While reading Preface and Acknowledgement of the book, it appeared that Indian lobbyists and analysts were quite active in formulation of the Pivot strategy. The author was also assisted by a number of Indians for completion of this book. Campbell—assisted by Indians has suggested to Washington engagement with a number of states which also includes Mongolia and Burma, but there is no mention of Pakistan, which depicts strong Indian influence over the said strategy formulation. Few policymakers in US have termed India as lynchpin of US policies in the Pacific region.
China-Pak project-CPEC is facing challenges, as it is being developed in least stable province of Pakistan. Foregoing in view, the ten-point strategy, crafted in the book may also be relevant to China-Pak for enhancing relevance in the Pacific region, while, Pakistan is likely to counter Asia pivot policy in Asia Pacific.
Although in the book, author has also given some positive suggestions to the US, yet in other words, he has confirmed American designs to counterbalance China in Asia.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations