Pakistan and India fight it out in power corridors of Washington DC

usHussain Saqib

Pakistan and India spare no opportunity to fight, and fight to the end. They fight their proxy wars everywhere possible; from their respective soils to Afghanistan to Nepal and even in the power corridors of Washington DC. The Americans have historically been influencing Pakistan to go soft on India even when the latter was in anti-US Soviet camp during the infamous Cold War. It is now a part of recorded history that Pakistan had an opportunity to fight a decisive battle to liberate Kashmir from India when India was engaged in a war with China in 1962 which ended in India’s humiliating defeat. China is Pakistan’s time-tested friend and, if for no other reason, a natural rival of India. It was the US which influenced its friend, president Ayub Khan of Pakistan, to abandon any plans to liberate Kashmir. Despite having been anti-US in times most critical to the US, the latter values India’s friendship because of sheer size of the former, a very active lobby of Indian diaspora in the US and India’s penetration into media all around the globe and more specifically in Pakistan.

The first round of the battle was won by India when a pro-India Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir made an explosive but largely unsubstantiated, statement. He alleged by way of revealing that Ambassador Robin Raphel, a senior administration official sympathetic to Pakistan, was the person who strengthened the Taliban in 1990s. Mir is widely perceived to be working for Indian interests in Pakistan. His father, the senior Mir, was honored by Hasina Wajid of Bangladesh for fighting anti-Pakistan battle on media front which helped India to tarnish image of Pakistani forces and create an air of hatred leading to liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan.

The Indians were after Raphel for long time for her pro-Pakistan views and were on the look-out for an opportunity to get her out of their way and dislodge her from her prestigious job. The opportunity was provided to them in the shape of revelation which Indian establishment managed through their precious Pakistani asset, Hamid Mir. This statement, made apparently at the behest of Indians, triggered a probe against Raphel by the FBI. According to the The Telegraph, India’s official apparatus was not involved in the tip. The US embassy was behind relaying the information divulged by Mir, albeit in the course of routine transmission of material. The long-running counter-intelligence probe of Raphel, who began her American civil service career with the CIA, appears to have taken a critical turn when Hamid Mir, executive editor of Pakistan’s Geo TV, made revelations about her nearly two-decade-old support for the Taliban to senior editorial staff of The Indian Express in the third week of October, 2014. His “revelations” are taken seriously because of his long association with the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The loss of Raphel may be very critical for Pakistan and it might have been compensated by a very successful two-week long visit of Pakistani army chief to Washington where he was accorded a protocol very close to that of head of a state. The immediate outcome of this visit was repair of damages to Pak-US relations indicated by President Obama’s call to Pakistan premier informing the latter of his forthcoming visit to India and probably why he would not extend this courtesy to Pakistan. The long-term outcome of this visit would be Pakistan’s increased role in Afghanistan post US departure which heretofore was under India influence and hosting anti-Pakistan terror groups perceived to be funded and armed by India.

As if this was not enough, there was a change of command at Pentagon with Secretary Chuck Hagel falling prey to American failures on ISIS front. His replacement is being rejoiced by India because Indians think that Ashton Carter is their own person heading the US war machine. According to National Interest, India will be watching Carter’s path through Congress with particular interest. On Wednesday, the Indian news agency IANS headlined its report “India friend Ashton Carter is Obama pick.” The New York Times’ South Asia bureau chief called Carter “one of India’s favorite US officials,” the defense journalist Ajai Shukla cheered the “superb news,” and others were similarly effusive. One of the major contributions of Carter to promote Indian interest in the US was his support for US-India civil nuclear deal, arguing that, though it was unbalanced and problematic, it was worth pursuing for the sake of a “strategic realignment.”

Carter has been providing all-out support to India everywhere using his influence in the complex bureaucratic machine in Washington DC.  He is considered by Indians as an architect of renewed US-India cordiality in their relations.

Both India and Pakistan may be fighting deadly battles through their proxies elsewhere in the world, this battle is bloodless but its outcome has far-reaching repercussions for both the countries.