US focus shifting to India from Pakistan: Chinese Media
China’s state-run newspaper Global Times has said that the US focus in South Asia is shifting towards India from Pakistan, as evident from Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) between India and the US, signed at the inaugural Indo-US 2+2 dialogue held in Delhi recently, and suspension of anti-terrorism aid to Pakistan.
Although China has yet to officially react to the Indo-US 2+2 dialogue, the views expressed by the Global Times are considered a reflection of the government’s stand.
The English-language daily said in an article titled ‘US tilts toward India in shifting South Asia policy’, published on Sunday, that Pakistan can no longer enjoy a special status as it did during the war on terrorism, whereas India, sharing common anxieties with the US against a rising China, assumes new importance for the US.
“The critical timing suggests that the US might well use the aid cancellation to signal to India that it is willing to take tougher measures to ‘induce’ better behaviour in India’s regional rival,” the newspaper said.
The article further said, “It seems that the US’ South Asia policy has witnessed significant developments in the past few weeks. On the one hand Washington announced it would suspend $300 million in military assistance to Pakistan and named Zalmay Khalilzad, a long-time critic of Pakistan, as a special envoy to Afghanistan. On the other Washington signed with New Delhi a long-due major military communications agreement which allows them to closely coordinate on a compatible network just like the US and its closest allies do.”
The article did not name COMCASA, nor did it refer to any implications on Sino-Indian ties or US-China relations. Further, the article did not refer to the Indo-US approach in the Indo-Pacific region and indirect criticism of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the joint statement issued after the 2+2 dialogue.
“In the post-9/11 era, the US offered billions of dollars to Pakistan in order to support counterterrorism mission against Al Qaeda, to operationalize robust intelligence cooperation and to equip Pakistani army with the capacity to target militants from all around. But, as Al-Qaeda has been decimated over time and threat from other radical groups have grown, Washington found its aid to Pakistan increasingly hard to justify,” the article said.
The Chinese state-run newspaper further said in the article titled ‘US tilts toward India in shifting South Asia policy’: “While the transactional nature of US-Pakistani relationship has indeed been discovered and discussed, Trump, whose characteristics have been best illustrated in his book The Art of the Deal, simply exacerbates the situation by more transactional moves. The situation is rather clear now: with rapidly shrinking strategic common ground between Washington and Islamabad, bilateral relations are increasingly reduced to one single issue – Afghanistan.”
“And, the issue of Afghanistan seems transactional and tactical rather than strategic. What now concerns Washington the most is settling the Afghan conflict after 17 years of painful attrition. To win the war in Afghanistan, Washington needs Islamabad for supply routes and to negotiate a lasting settlement and peace, meaning that neither side can afford to snap relations,” the article said.
The newspaper said that the cancellation of $300 million assistance was announced just days ahead of the expected visits to Islamabad and New Delhi by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, marking the shift in US policy towards both Pakistan and India.