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America Needs An Independent Pakistan Policy: US Media

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America Needs An Independent Pakistan Policy: US Media

The United States needs a policy on Pakistan that is not simply a derivative of U.S. policies on China and India

by Touqir Hussain

At a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on September 13, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Pakistan has a “multiplicity of interests, some that are in conflict with ours.”

Whether it was over Afghanistan or other issues, the United States has always lived with these conflicts, and the U.S. relationship with Pakistan has vacillated between conflict and cooperation. However, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, which has been defined by Washington’s short-term need for Pakistan’s cooperation to serve some critical security and strategic interests and Pakistan’s long-term need for American economic support and security assistance, has not come without cost. Even when their interests converged, their policies, perceptions, and politics often did not; They could not build the organizing principle of a long and lasting relationship based on a conceptual framework, shared vision, and continuity.

The Relationship Has Changed

Pakistan’s close relations with the United States had historically been a function of geopolitics (1954-1965 and 1979-1990) or issues relating to the United States and global security (2001-2011). But the twenty-first century’s shifting geopolitics, and post-9/11 sec­u­­­­­­­rity chall­enges, have changed South Asia into an are­na for new co­­alitions among regio­nal and global pla­­­­­y­ers in which Pakistan fi­­nds itself on the wro­ng side of Washington. That has altered the dynamics of U.S. engagement with Pakistan.

South Asia’s balance of power has been dramatically affected by U.S.-China tensions and Pakistan’s close ties with Beijing on one hand, and the extraordinary relations between the United States and India, Pakistan’s archrival, on the other. Instead of bringing Pakistan and the United States together, today’s geopolitics are driving them apart. As for the issues of security, counterterrorism, and Afghanistan, both countries feel that any benefits have come at an enormous cost. Washington resents Islamabad’s contribution to the failure of the Afghanistan war; Meanwhile, Pakistan is aggrieved for having suffered monumental losses from the blowback of the Afghanistan war and the U.S. war on terrorism.

Yet neither the United States nor Pakistan can afford to renounce their relationship. Pakistan will face uncertain headwinds over Afghanistan’s future, continued pressures from an assertive and dominant India, and challenges from terrorism and extremism at home. Islamabad’s efforts to stabilize Pakistan’s economy and strengthen its democracy will present their own hardships. Successful navigation of these challenges will require good relations with all big powers.

The United States, too, needs Pakistan. Washington continues to have some important interests relating to Afghanistan’s security, economy, and stability which Pakistan can facilitate. Washington would like Islamabad to put pressure on the Taliban on women’s rights and inclusivity, help with the remaining evacuations, and attain the Taliban’s cooperation in weakening Al-Qaeda and ISIS-K. Washington would also like Islamabad to act against the transnational terrorists and militants who threaten its stability, as well as the jihadists who threaten India, thereby undermining Washington’s China policy. Finally, the United States wants to limit China’s rapidly growing political and economic influence in Pakistan.

The potential for conflict and cooperation are both present in the current U.S.-Pakistani relationship, though no single issue trumps all the others. Blinken noted this dynamic in his recent remarks to Congress, saying that the United States will consider “the role that Pakistan has played over the last 20 years but also the role we would want to see it play in the coming years and what it will take for it to do that.”

But political rhetoric on both sides is not helping relations move forward. Prime Minister Imran Khan is admired by his supporters for his nationalism, but his suggestions that Pakistan had nothing to do with the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan and remark that the Taliban had broken “the chains of slavery” provoked a backlash in Wa­­s­h­ington. While the largely Republican opposition attacked both Pakistan for helping the Taliban come to power and the Biden administration for mishandling the withdrawal, the Biden administration in turned the heat up on Pakistan, especially during U.S. deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman’s recent visit to Islamabad, upsetting Pakistanis.

Where To Go from Here

The United States wants to make sure it can trust Pakistan, and Pakistan needs to have confidence that a renewed relationship with Washington would be worth the political cost at home and does not come at the expense of its other strategic interests. But that is not the only problem: The United States wants a limited relationship while Islamabad desires a broader “balanced relationship” that will be both beneficial and worth the potential political risk at home.

The United States is seeking over the horizon facilities from Pakistan. So, what is it that Pakistan can offer? Pakistan has to realize that opposition to America’s core interests in the region and lack of transparency will have no lasting place in U.S.-Pakistan relations. In the same way Washington has to decide what would be the best way to get Pakistan’s cooperation—by extracting concessions through the spectre of sanctions and continued pressure from the International Monetary Fund and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), or by involving Pakistan in a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship that is compatible with overall U.S. engagement with South Asia.

Reimagining The Future

The United States has two principal concerns in South Asia: China and terrorism emanating from Afghanistan. For one the United States needs India and for the other it needs Pakistan. Washington must pursue these needs separately. If the United States’ relationships with India and Pakistan are to be actually decoupled, as Washington claims, U.S. relations with India and Pakistan should not hinder relations with the other. The fact is that building up India’s capability to balance China can still be achieved without Washington’s blanket endorsement of India’s regional policies, which only sharpen divisions in South Asia to the overall detriment of U.S. interests. Such a policy will not serve the cause of peace in South Asia, which should be an important U.S. objective.

The United States needs a policy on Pakistan that is not simply a derivative of U.S. policies on China and India. If it wants to limit the Chinese influence in Pakistan, punishing Pakistan is not the way to do it. It will only serve to increase Pakistan’s dependency on China. Instead, engaging with Pakistan will help it maintain a degree of strategic autonomy vis-à-vis Beijing.

Pakistan too needs to do some soul searching. A weak Pakistan will always have a troubled relationship with the United States and no option but to align with China. Yet, if Pakistan can build internal strength and shake off its dependency on foreign powers, Islamabad has the potential to be useful to both the United States and China. Pakistan’s desire to move from geopolitics to Geo-Economics will require it to contribute more to peace in the region, help stabilize Afghanistan, and enhance its potential as an economic partner. To be an attractive economic partner Pakistan must strengthen its economy, free itself from entrenchment in a security-dominated national purpose, and pursue policies that make its excellent geopolitical location a true asset, not a liability.

The bottom line is the choice between a narrow and specific and a broad-based relationship will rest as much with Islamabad as Washington. Both the United States and Pakistan need to be each other’s good partners, and that will not happen without good policies on each side.

Touqir Hussain, a former Ambassador of Pakistan, is adjunct professor at Georgetown University and Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies of the National University of Singapore

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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’

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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’


NEW DELHI: India tested its nuclear capable K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), designed to have a strike range of 3,500 km, for the second time in six days on Friday. The missile test, as the one conducted on January 19, was undertaken from an undersea platform in the shape of a submersible pontoon off the coast of Andhra Pradesh according to a report by Rajat Pandit of TOI.

The solid-fuelled K-4 missile is being developed by DRDO to arm the country’s nuclear-powered submarines in the shape of INS Arihant and its under-development sister vessels. INS Arihant, which became fully operational in November 2018 to complete India’s nuclear triad, is currently armed with the much shorter K-15 missiles with a 750 km range.

“The K-4 is now virtually ready for its serial production to kick-off. The two tests have demonstrated its capability to emerge straight from underwater and undertake its parabolic trajectory,” said a source.

India has the land-based Agni missiles, with the over 5,000-km Agni-V inter-continental ballistic missile now in the process of being inducted, and fighter jets jury-rigged to deliver nuclear weapons. But INS Arihant gives the country’s deterrence posture much more credibility because nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear-tipped missiles are considered the most secure, survivable and potent platforms for retaliatory strikes.

Once the K-4 missiles are inducted, they will help India narrow the gap with countries like the US, Russia and China, which have over 5,000-km range SLBMs. The K-4 missiles are to be followed by the K-5 and K-6 missiles in the 5,000-6,000 km range class.

The 6,000-ton INS Arihant, which is propelled by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor at its core, in turn, is to be followed by INS Arighat, which was launched in 2017. The next generation of nuclear submarines, currently called S-4 and S-4*, will be much larger in size.





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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%

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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%


India has received clearance to upgrade 84 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets, which will result in 78% indigenization after the upgrade

In a significant step towards bolstering its military might with indigenously developed technology, India is poised to witness its Russian-origin Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets evolve into a domestic platform. Speaking at a recent lecture.

The upgrade program is being led by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in partnership with the Indian Air Force and other partners. The upgrade is expected to cost US$7.5 billion.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the upgrade. The upgrade is part of India’s efforts to improve the capabilities of its primary fighter aircraft, it refers to as the “Super Sukhoi”.

This initiative is a part of a larger effort by the Indian Air Force to modernize its ageing fleet. Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari asserted the critical role of an offensive air force as demonstrated in current global conflicts and emphasized India’s move towards an indigenized arsenal. To this end, the IAF has been proactive, from upgrading its Mirage 2000 to enhancing its MiG-29 fleet.

In summary, the IAF’s commitment to updating their combat forces with the latest technology, including shifting to fifth-generation fighter jets, ensures operational preparedness and a strong deterrence capability. The gradual indigenization of its air fleet marks a pivotal shift in India’s defence landscape, reducing dependency on foreign imports and fostering technological sovereignty.





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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace

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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace


According to unconfirmed reports, Armenia is a top contender for an export order for Akash SAM system manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).

While there is no official confirmation because of the sensitivities involved, documents suggest that the order for the same has already been placed the report further added.
There are nine countries, in turn, which have shown interest in the indigenously-developed Akash missile systems, which can intercept hostile aircraft, helicopters, drones and subsonic cruise missiles at a range of 25-km. They are Kenya, Philippines, Indonesia, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Vietnam and Algeria reported TOI.

The Akash export version will also be slightly different from the one inducted by the armed forces. The 100-km range air-to-air Astra missiles, now entering production after successful trials from Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, also have “good export potential”, said sources.

Akash is a “tried, tested and successfully inducted systems”. Indian armed forces have ordered Akash systems worth Rs 24,000 crore over the years, and MoD inked a contract in Mar 2023 of over Rs 9,100 crores for improved Akash Weapon System

BDL is a government enterprise under the Ministry of Defence that was established in 1970. BDL manufactures surface-to-air missiles and delivers them to the Indian Army. BDL also offers its products for export.

Akash Weapon System

The AWS is a Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) Air Defence System, indigenously designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In order to meet aerial threats, two additional Regiments of AWS with Upgradation are being procured for Indian Army for the Northern borders. Improved AWS has Seeker Technology, Reduced Foot Print, 360° Engagement Capability and improved environmental parameters.

The project will give a boost to the Indian missile manufacturing industry in particular and the indigenous defence manufacturing ecosystem as a whole. The project has overall indigenous content of 82% which will be increased to 93% by 2026-27.

The induction of the improved AWS into the Indian Army will increase India’s self-reliance in Short Range Missile capability. This project will play a role in boosting the overall economy by avoiding outgo of precious foreign exchange to other countries, increasing employment avenues in India and encouraging Indian MSMEs through components manufacturing. Around 60% of the project cost will be awarded to the private industry, including MSMEs, in maintaining the supply chain of the weapon system, thereby creating large scale of direct and indirect employment.





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