Pakistan, India in bitter contest to win over US

Islamabad, Feb 29 (IANS) Pakistan and India are engaged in a bitter contest to win over the United States amid the ever-present trust deficit, diplomatic sources said on Sunday.

Since the partition in 1947, the two South Asian nations have fought four wars, including one undeclared war and many border skirmishes and military stand-offs, The Nation reported.

The Kashmir issue has been the main cause, whether direct or indirect, of all major conflicts between the two countries with the exception of the 1971 war where conflict originated due to turmoil in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Apart from the wars, there have been skirmishes between the two nations from time to time. India and Pakistan were expected to fight each other in 1955 after warlike posturing on both sides, but full-scale war did not break out.

The past few months have seen ups and downs in the ties — the peak coming when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit in December and the dip after the January 2 attack on Pathankot airbase in India.

An outlawed group in Pakistan, Jaish-e-Mohammed, was believed to be involved in the attack, but Islamabad found no evidence against the JeM or its supremo Masood Azhar.

Pakistani authorities are in contact with the Indian counterparts to collect more evidence which might prove JeM links with Pathankot attack.

Washington has till now appreciated Pakistan’s actions after the Pathankot incident but New Delhi wanted Islamabad to ‘do more’. India has also been updating the US and complaining against Pakistan’s ‘go slow’ policy.

On Sunday, a four-member Pakistani delegation was in Washington to attend the sixth round of ministerial-level Pakistan-US strategic dialogue to be held on Monday.

The delegation is headed by Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz. The talks will take stock of the entire gamut of bilateral relations between the two countries. The US delegation will be led by John Kerry.

Official sources said the two sides could discuss the Pathankot attack apart from the scheduled agenda and Pakistan will try to convince the US about its sincerity to defeat terrorism.

A senior diplomat, engaged with the Pakistan-US talks, said India had been sending bags full of complaints against Pakistan.

“For the time being, the balance is in our favour. The US is appreciating our efforts against terrorism and also giving less weight to the Indian complaints. But there is a bitter war to win over the US,” he said.

He referred to the recent F-16 jets deal which irked India. “The US did not lend an ear to India. On the Pathankot attack too, the US seems satisfied with our efforts,” he added.

Another diplomat said the Indian lobby had been pressing the US to use its influence and force Pakistan to act against the JeM chief and other accused wanted by India.

“John Kerry is likely to discuss the Indian complaint box with Sartaj Aziz but there is no chance of a rebuke from Washington. Our ties with the US are positive and growing. At this point, we are ahead of India in the war to win the US but their lobby is also strong. There is a tug of war,” he remarked.

Defence analyst Lt. General Talat Masood (retd) said the Indian criticism on the F16 deal was unjustifiable as the New Delhi was continuously purchasing latest weapons and technologies from the world, including from the US.

He said between 2011 and 2015, India was the only country to import major weapons.

“The war against terrorism is a global war and Pakistan’s efforts are laudable. India should realise and appreciate the services of Pakistan against terrorism, rather than creating baseless propaganda,” he added.

General Masood said India was against the development and prosperity of Pakistan and had always tried to harm any step which can contribute to Pakistan positively.

Another defence analyst, Mohammed Khan, said the Indian lobby in the US Congress was involved in propaganda against Pakistan.

“The US also has strategic relationship with India but Pakistan never opposed it. The US is deeply involved in Afghanistan. The US and NATO depend on Pakistan due to Pakistan’s geographical location. This is their need to empower Pakistan to get positive results in the war against terrorism,” he added.

He said the international community acknowledged the efforts and sacrifices of Pakistan in the war against terror.

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