How the Obama administration destabilized South Asia through its deals with India
Earlier this month, Joe Biden in his speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, warned against the use of nuclear weapons in regional conflict in South Asia, Europe and East Asia. Biden publicly touted his administration’s alleged progress towards “a world without nuclear weapons”. In reality, his administration’s record on reducing nuclear weapons is largely a dismal failure.
Since the issue has leapt to the forefront of many discussions, to proclaim that their administration worked hard to halt the weapons proliferation any closer to a nuclear-free world is just spurting false claims. Not only has the administration barely made a dent in the gigantic nuclear cartels, they are also molding them into a more untidy form.
Blindly ignoring the dynamics of Strategic Stability in South Asia, which has been negatively impacted by nuclear deal and the discriminatory waiver granted to India, the U.S. and especially the Obama administration long sought to carve out special exceptions for India in the nuclear sphere. Both countries are helping each other over membership of the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), a 48-nation body established four decades ago to ensure civilian nuclear trade and that the nuclear material is not used for building weapons, as India has been doing itself.
Beyond the double standards, upping the ante by making India a member of NSG cartel will lead to a dangerous precedent. It would be more or less like promoting insurgency inside nuclear cartels. These steps could upgrade India as a nuclear power — and deeply unsettle power balance in the region between Pakistan and India.
Interestingly, talking about the nuclear safety and security procedures, a recent study by U.S. officials and experts has shown concern about India, arguing that despite its booming nuclear installations and materials India lacks adequate steps. This episode shows that nuclear guard force in India has a serious problem within the organization that is threatening the safety apparatus.
Keeping in mind the nuclear terrorism problem in the region, it is the Indians that have been recently issuing statements about the nuclear terrorism activities without naming Pakistan. But New Delhi herself needs to scrupulously abide by respective international obligations in order to halt such activities as it is one of the major countries where such activities occur.
For example in 2008, Indian police in the eastern part of the country seized 8lbs of uranium carried out for smuggling. However, in the same year in September, a group was caught on charges of smuggling uranium ore. In 2013 India illegally obtained uranium ore in Assam region that can be used to make crude bombs.
All this accounts to a different picture as to what has been depicted by Mr. Biden. With increasing shortcomings, India lacks understanding over nuclear safety issues as opposed to responsible steps taken by Pakistan to ensure nuclear safety. Pakistan’s nuclear safety and security techniques and practices have been appraised by DG IAEA as an impressive tool for operating its nuclear power plants.
Now, where should Pakistan go from here?
Ignoring all the discussion above, India is also trying to pace up bigger guns. With dozens of military and defense deals being made, U.S. has a major role to play in it. It’s U.S. that has been a top supplier of defense gears and materials to the Indian Armed forces. Not only this, recently both India and U.S. have signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), which will allow their militaries to work closely and use each other’s bases. This customary nature has serious destabilizing power to further alter the stability-instability paradox in the region. This will also have international implications keeping in mind its missile developments.
Not only this, but to give a new thrust to India-U.S. defence relationship, India is the only country to enter the Pentagon with a specific cell in order to streamline and channelize projects for collective production and development of hi-tech military equipment.
In retrospect, the next administration will have to navigate these dangers and needs to formulate a well-considered and calibrated military and diplomatic response to these adverse developments.
Compounded with varying difficulties, Pakistan is a developing country with restricted possessions to counter the growing challenges of geo-strategic, political, social, economic, environmental and technological changes.