WASHINGTON: The United States is perhaps the only country which can persuade India to stop its subversive activities in Pakistan, says the country’s envoy as a US scholar sees merit in Islamabad’s claim that India is supporting separatists in Balochistan.
Asad Majeed Khan, Islamabad’s envoy in Washington, and James Dobbins, a former US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, raised this issue in their interviews to The Christian Science Monitor, which published a story on Friday on the alleged Indian support to terrorist activities inside Pakistan.
“We see the US as perhaps the only country in the world that is in a position to play an important and critical role on this issue,” Ambassador Khan said.
“We are hopeful the engagement of the US could work to support peace and security for our region.”
Mr Dobbins said that “allegations of Indian support for separatists in the Balochistan region might indeed have merit”.
In an interview to Dawn, however, Ambassador Khan explained that while Islamabad wants the US to help stop Indian interference in the country’s internal affairs, “we do not want our relationship with Washington to be India-specific”. Pakistan, he said, was “large and important enough to have its own relations with any country, particularly with the United States, which is an old ally”.
In his interview with the Monitor, Ambassador Khan noted that his country has successfully brought down the number of terrorist attacks inside Pakistan over the last decade and wrested control of large parts of the country from non-state actors.
But over the last two years Pakistan has faced a resurgence of attacks and “unfortunately we see the Indian footprint and Indian fingerprints all over the place”, he added.
The Monitor noted that China was another key player in the region, which “has a growing economic footprint in Pakistan but tense relations with New Delhi that include a longstanding border dispute that flared again this summer”.
The US newspaper pointed out that in a dossier on India that Pakistani officials recently shared with the international community, they accused New Delhi of “trying to destabilise Pakistan’s economic cooperation with China by fomenting terrorist attacks against Chinese-financed development projects, including a deadly assault at a luxury hotel in Gwadar”.
The Monitor noted that Pakistan would also like to see the US pressure India over its revocation last year of the disputed Kashmir region’s autonomous status and “the repressive measures Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to enforce there”.
“We may see the US taking a little tougher stance toward India over its human rights record, but basically we’ll continue to court India as a counterweight to China,” said Mr Dobbins while explaining how Washington may respond to Pakistan’s efforts.
“And overall, I don’t think we’ll see the Biden administration taking a very different approach to Pakistan than the Trump administration did,” he said.
Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2020