US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (file photo). Photograph:( Reuters )
According to security analysts, due to the Quad threat looming large perceived to be targeting China where India, Japan and Australia have joined hands with the US, Pakistan is under severe pressure from China to distance itself from the US influence and by default, it would then keep India also at an arm's length. The Chinese government also lashed out at Antony Blinken, protesting on the visiting US Secretary of State’s meeting the Dalai Lama representatives describing it as a violation of the US commitment to acknowledge Tibet being a part of China
As the Afghan imbroglio continues where Taliban is causing reverses among the rank and file of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and its claims to have annexed considerable chunks of territory especially on the borders of Pakistan and Iran grows, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a TV interview to the US channel PBS has said that US has messed up in Afghanistan. The interview, carried on the prime-time slot on the night of July 27 was seen by many and Khan went on to vehemently criticise the US by charging the US for trying to look for a military solution while what was needed was a political solution. Elaborating his argument, the Pakistani PM said that on earlier occasions when he ruled out a military solution, he was dubbed as Taliban Khan and anti-American.
Responding to a pointed query whether the Pakistani PM thought of Taliban resurgence was a positive development for Afghanistan, the PM reiterated that the only good outcome would be a political settlement, which was inclusive. He further stated that the ‘worst case scenario’ if aptly described, as being one where Afghanistan descends into a civil war; this was however, from Pakistan's point of view. Protracted civil war, if it happens, Khan went on to say, would bring in more refugees inside Pakistan and as it is there were three million Afghan refugees already sheltered in Pakistan. Expressing his apprehensions rather candidly, the Pakistani PM said Pashtuns in Pakistan would be drawn into the civil war and that will have devastating consequences. During his interview, Khan forthrightly denied any financial support based on Pakistan military intelligence to Afghanistan and he found that extremely unfair. Of late, US-Pakistan ties have been plummeting rather rapidly.
According to security analysts, due to the Quad threat looming large perceived to be targeting China where India, Japan and Australia have joined hands with the US, Pakistan is under severe pressure from China to distance itself from the US influence and by default, it would then keep India also at an arm's length, strategically. The ties also soured because of Pakistan’s blatant refusal to the US to allow use of Pakistan air bases to target Afghan Taliban targets for attack and counter offensives. Pakistan also continues to be wary about India’s growing proximity with regard to a strategic partnership with the US in Joe Biden’s seven-month-long presidentship. Several retired senior military officials of the Pakistan establishment and diplomats with good knowledge on US-Pakistan dynamics are blaming the Biden administration for letting Pakistan down, while Pakistan, as argued by a segment, had stood by the US in all its military endeavours. Be it training the Mujahideen with arms and stinger missiles during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, creation of Taliban or a solid collaboration when under President Musharraf, Pakistan cooperated in partnering with the US in taking on the Taliban in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks.
Amid this scene of downsliding of the bilateral relations, Pakistan has recently rejected the comments recorded by a latest US report which cast serious aspersions on the Pakistani judicial system. Reacting to the contents of such a report, a spokesperson from the Pakistan Foreign Office asserted that the judiciary in Pakistan was independent and the courts were functioning in accordance with the constitution and laws of the country. Such claims, however, are far from reality.
As there are no signs of any let up in the deteriorating US-Pakistan ties, the latter is likely to feel the heat following a very successful just concluded India visit by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken on July 27 and 28. Indo-US watchers feel that US assurances to India for all support and strategic partnership is a matter of concern for China as the Quad dispensation stands strengthened and US commitment to cooperate with India in counter-terror measures will be more comforting to the two countries though it could be a matter of unease for Pakistan. Plus, Blinken’s meetings with Prime Minister Modi, EAM S Jaishankar, NSA A K Doval and other key functionaries will give a lot of food for thought to Pakistan, which already seems to have burnt its bridges with the US. Blinken’s complimentary remarks that the US would never forget the timely Indian help to the US during the COVID-19 pandemic augur very well in the context of Indo-US ties.
It does not end here, Blinken on July 28, also said that the US and India are bound by democratic values and free citizenry. While in India, the US Secretary of State also met representatives of various civil societies including one from the Dalai Lama. The representatives from the other religio-cultural organisations also met him and a free interaction was the hallmark of the meeting. Pak watchers are intently watching this growing bonhomie between India and US. Whether it is worrisome for Pakistan is a million-dollar question. Meanwhile China, has very angrily reacted to Blinken’s statement of India and US sharing the same democratic values. It has surely hurt China which, like Pakistan, is obviously disturbed by the warming up of US-India strategic cooperation.
Latest inputs indicate that the Chinese government lashed out on July 29 at Antony Blinken while he was in India, especially protesting on the visiting US Secretary of State’s meeting the Dalai Lama representatives describing it as a violation of the US commitment to acknowledge Tibet being a part of China. Elaborating the tenor of the protest, the Chinese Foreign Ministry clarified in a statement that the Dalai Lama is not a mere religious figure but a political exile, who has long engaged in anti-China separatist activities. In another China-related development, President Xi Jinping visited the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) recently which commenced from a village very close to Arunachal Pradesh. This is possibly an act of flexing of muscles or display of show of strength to India as intimidatory tactics. This is a known Chinese way of exhibiting ire or displeasure. It, however, remains interesting to watch more Chinese reactions, fraught with belligerence, as strategic bonhomie between India and the US further consolidates.
(Disclaimer: The views of the writer do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. Nor does WION or ZMCL endorse the views of the writer.)