US tells India, drop dead
A friend, usually upbeat about India-US relations, sent me an angry
mail over the weekend after President George Bush called up Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday evening to inform him that the USA
had decided to supply F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan and Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice, in an interview to The Washington Post,
"dismissed concerns" about the fallout of the American decision. The
"lovely easter gift to india from the us.
moral: proliferate nukes, threaten us interests everywhere, be terror
hub, and get rewarded for it. this has been north korea's experience,
china's experience, saudi arabia's experience, and pakistan's
suck up to the us, desperately crave its goodwill, allow its odious
conversion machine to dictate terms to you, and get slapped on the
face. this is india's experience.
simple solution for india: proliferate nuke and missile technology to
anybody who wants it, especially taiwan and japan. this will
immediately get american respect, much as pokhran-ii did."
The issues that arise of the USA's decision to strengthen Pakistan's
strike power, I feel, are much larger than merely seeking or getting
"American respect". A nation whose civilisational history stretches
back to 5,000 years, that is more than Americans can count without a
Texas Instruments TI-83, and whose billion plus population is not
dependent on American wheat surplus of the PL 480 variety, can do
without "American respect". Thank you very much, but America is
welcome to stuff its "respect" in a hot dog.
The larger concerns are two-fold. First, Washington's mollycoddling of
Pakistan, a rogue state that has not only proliferated cross-border
jehadi terrorism but also spawned an underground bazaar where it has
been hawking weapons of mass destruction technology to other rogue
states. Second, the arms race that will follow America's dubious deal,
with both India and Pakistan upping their defence expenditure at the
cost of social welfare spending.
A third aspect that merits comment is the glib manner in which Ms
Rice, during the joint press conference she addressed along with
Minister for External Affairs Natwar Singh during her brief stopover
in New Delhi earlier this month, waved away any "announcement" of an
American deal on F-16s for Pakistan in the immediate future. Perhaps
time and space are extremely elastic for those who wax eloquent on
"absent morals" of others.
It is immaterial whether or not Pakistan has been assisting the USA in
pursuing its "war against terror" – ask those who are involved in the
war, including intelligence operatives, and they will tell you
Islamabad has been leading Washington down the garden path – what is
material is that India must protect its own national interest. There
is little evidence to show that Pakistan has given up the path of
terror; nor is there reason to believe that Islamabad is genuinely
interested in peace.
If you have any doubts, look at the daily acts of terror in Jammu &
Kashmir; the insidious growth of ISI modules in the North-East; and,
the export of jehadi fundamentalism to India via Nepal. Nothing has
changed in the last one year, never mind peaceniks who are making
silly asses of themselves.
The absurd claim put out by un-named sources in the US State
Department that the F-16s form part of American assistance to Pakistan
to wage war on terrorism is as laughable as the lollypop of advanced
fighter jets (F-18s, no less) and nuclear power reactors that has been
offered to India. "What the Americans have announced is the actual,
physical delivery of F-16s to Pakistan and a bunch of nice promises
for India," a foreign office official in New Delhi has said
underscoring the absurdity.
No less absurd is the claim made by "senior administration officials"
at a background briefing for "select journalists" that the military
assistance to Pakistan's military rule General Pervez Musharraf was
aimed at ensuring "a fully democratic, economically promising
Pakistan, that feels secure and is thus at peace with its neighbours."
The officials might as well have added that it is inconsequential the
USA's favourite tin pot dictator is to blame for the runaway basement
bomb programmes in North Korea, Iran and Libya, among others. Boys
will be boys, you see, naughty and mischievous; what's a component
here and a blueprint there?
Those nations that have committed the mistake of trusting the USA have
come to grief, and how. It will be disastrous if India makes a similar
mistake. If the UPA Government believes in what it says, that India is
a sovereign nation free to make its own choices, then it should not
touch the American promise with a bargepole.
The Pakistanis can seek satisfaction in saving 5,000 jobs at Lockheed
Martin Corp, Indians need not lose sleep over the plight of unemployed
workers in Texas. In fact, it will be fun to watch Mr Bush and Ms Rice
squirm, which they shall, if Mr Manmohan Singh and his team look
through their alleged offer and go ahead with selecting the next
generation, multi-purpose jets from what has been offered by the
French, the Swedes and the Russians.
If they choose to be charmed by the Americans, then India might as
well say goodbye to its sovereign identity and become another client
state of the USA like
Pakistan has become.
PS: At the launch of journalist Wilson John's book Pakistan's Nuclear
Underworld: An Investigation, a devastating expose of how A.Q. Khan
and his bosses in khaki went around hawking nuclear know-how for a
fistful of dollars, in New Delhi last week, a former Foreign
Secretary, mindful of the presence of two diplomats from the US
mission in the audience, charged the Americans with "doubletalk and
duplicity" on illicit nuclear proliferation by the Pakistanis.
Later, one of the American diplomats, fuming over being shown up so
bluntly, accosted him and told him that he had been "offensive and
insulting to my country" and "you could have been more nuanced without
being inaccurate". Retorted the former diplomat: "We are a free
country. We can say what we want…. I couldn't care less for
pretensions of the American empire."
Let's order a second hot dog!