‘Washington must cut funding Pakistan if doesn’t rein in terror’

New York, Nov 13 (IANS) An influential group of American business leaders, academics and policy experts has recommended that if Pakistan does not rein in terror, the US stop funding Islamabad’s defence equipment purchases and reimbursing coalition support funds.

“The US should demand that Pakistan meet its obligations as a state to tackle terrorism emanating from its territory, in both India and Afghanistan,” an Independent Task Force of the Council on Foreign Relations said in a statement on Thursday.

But “if Pakistan is not willing to rein in terror, Washington should be prepared, at minimum, to end US taxpayer funding for defence equipment sales and reimbursement of coalition support funds,” the experts said.

“India is poised for power and prosperity if it can remain focused on its domestic transformation, and the risk of conflict with Pakistan threatens to drag India down,” the task force said in its report, “Working With a Rising India: A Joint Venture for the New Century”.

It added, “India should not have to, nor should it want to, endure further decades of having its strategic options limited by Pakistan.”

As for New Delhi, the report said, “The US should encourage India to improve its relationship with Pakistan — as an investment in its own rise — particularly, at least to start, through greater trade connectivity.”

Recognising India’s concerns about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan which could impact the region, the experts said that the US “should commit to a doctrine stating that future decisions regarding the size, scope, and timeline for deployment of US forces will be determined by on-the-ground realities and not artificially imposed schedules, and without a declared date of departure.”

“Such a move would help assure India and others that US’ actions will not undermine the goal of long-term regional stability,” they said and recommended that Washington “extend its commitment to Afghanistan — even beyond President Barack Obama’s decision to slow the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and retain a force of some 5,000 troops in the country into 2017.”

The task force included Ajay Banga, the MasterCard CEO and former chairman of the Indo-US Business Council; Ashley J. Tellis, a former US government advisor on nuclear policy and now a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Charles R. Kaye, the co-CEO of the investment company Warburg Pincus; Robert D. Blackwill, the former US Ambassador to India and now a senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations; Stephen P. Cohen, senior fellow of the Brookings Institution; Marshall M. Bouton, senior fellow of the Asia Society Policy Instiute; and Nicholas Burns a former special envoy for the US-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act and a professor at Harvard University.

On why New Delhi is important, the report said that India has the capacity to develop into a $10 trillion economy if it keeps the current growth trajectory and this combined with its national security and global potential offers the US one of the most substantial opportunities to advance America’s national interests.

In view of this, the experts recommended that Washington give top priority to economic ties with India and collaborate “actively with India to envision a more ambitious economic goal.”

The dividend for the US in this scenario, their report said is that a wealthier India will be a stronger strategic partner as it would be able to invest more in its own defence, and be an effective partner in homeland security matters.

The task force acknowledged that Washington’s relations with New Delhi will be unlike that with its conventional allies because of “India’s size, its class-of-its-own sense of self, and its fierce independence” and New Delhi not wanting a formal alliance and said that it called for a new model of working together.

They said Washington should “emphasise a ‘joint-venture’ model for US-India relations, focused on a slate of shared pursuits on which interests converge and with clear mechanisms for coordinating and managing the known and expected disagreements.”

They identified cyber arena, global health, climate change and clean energy, and democracy building as areas for joint ventures.

Cohen, in a note added to the report clarified the concept of Joint venture. He said it “should not be seen as a rerun of the relationship between the East India Company and the Mughal Empire; India can certainly protect its own interests in relations with the US and other major powers.”

China lurked behind the consideration of India’s strategic value, although the report said, “The strategic convergence between Washington and New Delhi, including on the Asia Pacific, should not be construed as directed at any other country and is not an alliance against China.”

However, elsewhere their report said that China’s rise is among factors that have “created a landscape in which Indian and U.S. interests are in a process of structural realignment.”

“Geopolitically, India’s growing military capabilities can help protect the sea lanes and deliver humanitarian assistance quickly throughout the South Asian region, and increasingly across the greater Indo-Pacific,” the report said.

“India’s longstanding stability anchors the volatile Indian Ocean region and helps ensure that no single power dominates the Asia Pacific, leading to a stable balance of power.”

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

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