Is America and India friends? to handcuff Pakistan

Hassnain Javed

AUGUST 18, 2019

Indian economy is $2,600 billion – almost nine times larger than Pakistan. Its foreign exchange reserves worth around $420 billion – 28 times larger than Pakistan’s $15 billion. Naturally, it has more to spend on military – $44 billion as compared to Pakistan’s $7.5 billion. On paper, India is much more powerful than Pakistan when it comes to conventional weaponry, or non-nuclear weaponry. So, as rational actors, let’s accept for a moment that war with India is not a solution to anything, but a key to further destruction.

What do we do then? How can we make India pay for its deeds? What kind of Pakistan can truly bargain a favourable outcome for Kashmiris? For the longest part of our national history, threat from India has kept us overly-concentrated on our security more than anything else. That’s exactly what India desired as well, and we kept falling in the trap, kept neglecting our ‘real’ development, kept India at peace.

We failed to recognize that the genuine source of discomfort for India is not a militarily strong Pakistan, but a Pakistan that is economically strong; a Pakistan that is a healthy democracy and has rule of law; a Pakistan that has high literacy rate; a Pakistan that is free from sectarianism; a Pakistan that has good relations with its neighbours; a Pakistan that invests in its health and education; a Pakistan that invests in research and development; a Pakistan that has functional institutions; a Pakistan that has inter-provincial harmony; a Pakistan where Balochistan is thriving; a Pakistan where FATA is safe; a Pakistan where minorities are respected; a Pakistan that has mature and strong bilateral relationship with super and major powers of the world; a Pakistan that is truly a healthy society and economy.

When we start playing India militarily, we move to their home ground. They will always have more to spend on military, and we will always keep irrationally chasing them without realizing that they are strong because they have more. How can we have more? By investing in ourselves.

The challenge for Pakistan is to play the world powers with ultimate prudence, and for that, it will have to employ its finest minds and utmost potential. Thus, we need to make Pakistan internally strong, and everything will work if not in wrong then at least somewhat in right direction

The fact of the matter is to understand they will appreciate if we believe that our glory lies in beating India militarily. False! Our glory lies only in making Pakistan stronger from inside. Only an economically sophisticated Pakistan can have a stronger bargaining position vis-a-vis India. There is no other way.

If we actually want to resolve Kashmir, and not merely shed tears for it, if we actually desire to have parity with India, if we truly wish to have a Pakistan that uses to its fullest the potential that it has, we will have to improve our socio-economic indicators which are currently competing with Subsaharan African nations. We will have to rise above Gabon and Burundi.

Besides this, America is obliging India through FATF and IMF. Moreover, I have attempted to join the dots of US strategy to prevent Pakistan from taking any action that could potentially harm India’s interests in Kashmir and elsewhere.

There are certain outfits based in Pakistan that have historically waged unconventional war against India on Kashmir. And America, on India’ behalf, wants them gone. So, in June 2018, US and its allies placed Pakistan on FATF grey list on charges of terror financing and money laundering. They also linked the expulsion of Pakistan from the list to Pakistan’s action against “terror” outfits – mostly anti-India outfits – based in Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

FATF is an acronym for Financial Action Task Force. It is an international watchdog against money laundering and financing of terrorism, but its actions are widely believed to have political considerations. Interestingly, after putting Pakistan on grey list, FATF asked the most impartial state there could have been to inspect Pakistan’s performance against money laundering and terror financing – India.

India was made the co-chair of the joint group of FATF and Asia Pacific Group. Asad Umer, the Ex-Finance Minister of Pakistan, had to write a letter to President of FATF, Marshall Billingslea, to appoint any other member of FATF as co-chair in order to ensure that FATF review process was fair, unbiased and objective. He cited India’s repeated calls for isolating Pakistan, clear Indian motivation to hurt Pakistan’s economic interests, its recent violation of Pakistan’s airspace and dropping of bombs inside its territory, etc. to emphasize that India’s placement as co-chair would hurt the impartiality of the review process.

In order to further tighten the noose, Pakistan was threatened that in case it did not take action against anti-India outfits, IMF would not lend money to Pakistan. Furthermore, in case of failure, Pakistan was told that it would be demoted from Grey List to Black List. FATF Black List means that Pakistan would be placed with countries like Iran and North Korea. Blacklisting would’ve had horrendous consequence for Pakistan’s imports, exports, remittances, international lending, banking system, etc. In short, Pakistan’s economy was threatened to face serious consequences, even bankruptcy.

In fact, instead of confining themselves to mere threats, India and US even made an attempt earlier this year to blacklist Pakistan. In June 2019, at Plenary and Working Group meeting in Florida, India, United States, and United Kingdom moved a resolution to “blacklist” Pakistan. Thanks to Turkey’s vote, Pakistan was saved from being Blacklisted.

This entire nexus of collusion between US and India becomes all the more visible if you look at the reaction of US following India’s annulment of Article 370. Therefore, just two days after Kashmir’s annexation by India, instead of condemning India’s action, United States told Pakistan that it will have to show “tangible and satisfactory actions” against banned organizations (mostly anti-India outfits) and their leaderships if it wishes to escape FATF. At the same time, IMF chief in Pakistan reminded Pakistan that “failure to get out of the grey list by FATF could have implications of capital inflows to Pakistan”.

In a nutshell, US strategy is to apparently stay neutral on Kashmir while handcuffing Pakistan through international bodies such as FATF and IMF. This serves India perfectly well because Pakistan will not go for an international war with India but at the same time it will not be able to use the anti-India outfits to threaten India’s advancement on Kashmir. In other words, the goal is ensure that in no way can Pakistan assist Kashmiri uprising while India moves to dissolve Kashmir as a separate entity.

The entire thesis that US has been assisting India in latter’s pursuit of its fascist objectives is further cemented by Indian media reports following annulment of Article 370 that United States had known India’s Kashmir move since February this year. One begs to question: why should we believe that America had only known India’s plan since February this year. I strongly believe that America had full knowledge of India’s annexation plan long before June 2018 when Pakistan was put on FATF. A ground was laid long time ago for India’s Aug 5 decision, and FATF was perhaps the first manifest step in the direction.

In order to conclude it is easy to comprehend on whose encouragement India is thumping its chest in Kashmir. The challenge for Pakistan is to play the world powers with ultimate prudence, and for that, it will have to employ its finest minds and utmost potential. Thus, we need to make Pakistan internally strong, and everything will work if not in wrong then at least somewhat in right direction. For decades now, we have tried military, non-state actors, rhetoric and everything in between. It has not worked. You know what will work? Shunning corruption. Shunning tax-evasion. Shunning the practice of misusing our institutions. Shunning those who have kept us ignorant. Coming together as one nation in building a Pakistan that is stronger inside if we truly want our enemies to cringe, cry, and regret.

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