Indian frustration over Chuck Hagel’s remarks
Posted by Faheem Belharvi
In the post cold war era, India diversified its relationship with major world powers. Although, Indo-US relationships has always been cordial, but, following the disintegration of former Soviet Union, there was new warmth in this relationship.
The incident of 9/11 further brought both countries closer to each other. After this unfortunate incident, US declared India as its natural and strategic partner. Under the changing global environment, India indeed needed a partner and US as the sole super power fits into Indian future requirement. On the other hand, US needed a friendly India for attainment of its long-term strategic goals in the regional politics.
Indeed, both India and U.S needed each other for their bilateral needs and co-existence. Being world second largest country, India was a huge market for the US goods and its future investment. Like India, United States has its fixed policies and objectives, which always revolves around its national interests. This is irrespective of the fact that who guards the White House; Democrats or Republicans.
In the context of South Asia or Subcontinent, there is yet another misperception that some officials within the US administration are either pro-India or pro-Pakistan. In my opinion these perceptions are deliberately developed over the years for the subsequent use of those people for the attainment of US objectives within these countries through a soft approach, indeed, the liberalists’ way of doing the things, rather complicated methodology of power politics. President Woodrow Wilson was among the proponents of this idealistic approach.
For years, India has been covertly fueling militants and sub-nationalists in Balochistan and other areas of Pakistan. Recently, a new debate started following the resurfacing of a reality shared by new US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel about Indian financing of terrorists in Pakistan from the Afghan soil. In one of his address at Oklahoma’s Cameron University, while he was a Senator, Mr Chuck Hegal said that, “India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border.
And you can carry that into many dimensions, the point being the tense, fragmented relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been there for many, many years.” This indeed is the minimum truth; he shared with the audience of the University. In reality, India is continuously promoting instability in Pakistan by financing and abetting terrorists in various parts of the country through Afghanistan. Being in geographical contiguity with Afghanistan, the provinces of Balochistan, KPK and FATA have been directly affected by the activities from across the Pak-Afghan border.
Besides Hagel, there are many more officials and analysts who pointed out Indian involvement towards destabilization of Pakistan through Afghan soil. In this regards, Christine Fair, a US based writer and fellow of RAND Corporation, highlighted a few years back in Foreign Policy magazine about the anti-Pakistan activities of RAW in Indian Embassy at Kabul, Indian Consulates in bordering cities of Afghanistan and even Indian Consulate in the Iranian border city of Zahidan.
She wrote that, “Having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity. Moreover, India has run operations from its mission in Mazar (through which it supported the Northern Alliance) and is likely doing so from the other consulates it has reopened in Jalalabad and Kandahar along the border.” India has been providing a huge amount for the training of Baloch sub nationalists. Indeed, the so-called missing Baloch youth undergo training in various parts of Afghanistan under Indian spying agency RAW and cross over to Pakistan for the terrorists activities.
Secretary Chuck Hagel is being targeted in US and India ever since the resurfacing of these remarks after his nomination. So much so, President Obama has been asked to withdraw his nomination as Defense Secretary, over these remarks. In 2011, once he said that, “India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan” Indian officials and media declared these remarks as anti-India.
Now once again a debate has started both in India and in Pakistan, as to the loyalties of Hegal with Pakistan. Nobody realizes that, Mr Hagel shared his information with the audiences and gave a realistic assessment of the security situation prevailing in Pakistan. An insecure security situation may not serve US purpose especially at a time once US need a comparative peace in Pakistan for the safe exit of its forces through Pakistan. Otherwise, same Chuck Hagel went all out in brokering the Indo-US Nuclear deal. For such a great job, where many among US lawmakers were against the deal, Mr Hagel was not dubbed as a pro-India Senator.
The fact of the matter is that Mr Hegal supported the Indo-US Nuclear deal to serve the best national interests of United States and his statement about Indian financing terror in Pakistan is again in the best national interests of his own country. The statement though annoyed a few in India, but pacified many in Pakistan. As being projected widely in Pakistan that, President Obama has filled top slots in his administration by appointing pro-Pakistan officials: Johan Kerry, Secretary of State and Chuck Hegal, as Defense Secretary.
Just imagine, since their nominations, there is a change in the perception from top hierarchical position to the men at street in Pakistan. Such a perception US needed in Pakistan at this critical juncture. In next few months, U.S has to move back huge amount of weapons and equipments besides pulling out of 34000 troops from Afghanistan. Bulk of this logistic move back has to be through Pakistan. Whereas Indian analysts and scholars feel that United States has lot of stakes in India, therefore, they assume the statement as a personnel opinion of Mr Hegal, as a senator.
As a Secretary of Defense, India visualizes his commitment towards it. This is also evident from the measured statement of Indian Embassy in Washington, which following the resurfacing of the statement said, “Such comments attributed to Senator Hagel, who has been a long-standing friend of India and a prominent votary of close India-US relations are contrary to the reality of India’s unbounded dedication to the welfare of Afghan people.”
There have been many unbiased and neutral views from the US and western scholars about foreign involvement in Pakistan. Pakistan, always welcome the realistic and unbiased assessment of situation by anyone. It appreciates the statement of US Secretary of Defense, and hopes that, mere remarks would not suffice. United States has to help Pakistan practically in dismantling terrorists’ camps; India is running in Afghanistan to promote terrorism in Pakistan. Indian spying network along with some other global spying networks must be evicted before U.S and NATO completes their drawdown.
The Indian financing and abetting the terrorists has seriously affected the Pakistan in all fields like; social unrest, political instability, uncertain security situation and economic breakdown. While U.S is likely to drawdown from Afghanistan, its undesired support for India is constantly damaging Pakistan. Irrespective of its stakes in India, the statement of Secretary Chuck Hagel warrants a serious consideration from Obama Administration. In the days to come, allowing India to sandwich Pakistan may also complicate the situation for United States. As a head of Pentagon, Secretary Chuck Hagel himself has a great role to undo, what his predecessors have encouraged establishing in Afghanistan against Pakistan.
(Dr Raja Muhammad Khan-The writer is Islamabad based analyst of international relations)