New Delhi’s goals

Published December 17, 2022
The writer is a retired ambassador and author of Pakistan and a World in Disorder: A Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century.
The writer is a retired ambassador and author of Pakistan and a World in Disorder: A Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century.

PAKISTAN’s policymakers need to come to terms with the emergence of India as a great power, propelled as it is by its economy, which has also enabled it to increase its military expenditure at a fast pace. India’s GDP, which was estimated to be $3,173 billion in nominal dollar terms in 2021, making it the fifth-largest economy in the world, is projected to reach $7,841bn in 2030, raising it to third position in world rankings. It is predicted that it will be outranked only by China and US, which will occupy first and second place respectively at the global level. According to a report issued by PricewaterhouseCoopers in February 2017, India’s GDP in nominal dollar terms would increase to $28,021bn by 2050.

The rapid growth of the Indian economy has enabled India to increase its military expenditure, which, at $64bn, is the third highest in the world, according to the Military Balance 2022 issued by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Only the US, with military expenditures estimated to be $738bn, and China, at $193bn, are ahead of India.

The formidable combination of India’s rapidly growing economy and military capabilities, with its critically important location in the Indian Ocean across maritime trading routes and fast-developing strategic partnership with the US to contain China, confers upon it enormous power and influence, enabling it to pursue an ambitious foreign policy agenda. It is not surprising, therefore, to see India playing an increasingly prominent role internationally in such forums as G20, from which Pakistan is excluded.

Several years ago, India’s strategic goals were summed up well by noted Indian security analyst Raja Mohan in his article ‘India and the Balance of Power’, which appeared in Foreign Affairs in 2006: “India’s grand strategy divides the world into three concentric circles. In the first, which encompasses the immediate neighbourhood, India has sought primacy and a veto over the actions of outside powers. In the second, which encompasses the so-called extended neighbourhood stretching across Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral, India has sought to balance the influence of other powers and prevent them from undercutting its interests. In the third, which includes the entire globe, India has tried to take its place as one of the great powers, a key player in international peace and security.”

India’s quest for hegemony presents Pakistan with stark choices.

The actual conduct of Indian foreign policy over the past few decades bears out Raja Mohan’s conclusions regarding India’s strategic goals.

Former national security adviser, the late Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power, commented that “Indian strategists speak openly of a greater India exercising a dominant position in an area ranging from Iran to Thailand. India is also positioning itself to control the Indian Ocean militarily….”. Henry Kissinger in his book World Order noted that like the early American leaders who developed the Monroe Doctrine, India has established for itself a special position in the Indian Ocean region.

India’s quest for hegemony in South Asia presents Pakistan, which is currently suffering from political instability and low economic growth, with stark strategic choices. It has the easy but dangerous option of succumbing to India’s hegemonic designs, which may ultimately lead to decisions about its security and economic growth being taken in New Delhi instead of Islamabad. According to the principle of social and cumulative causation propounded by the famous Swedish economist Gun­nar Myrdal, this would be the outcome of Pakistan entering into a programme of re­­gional economic integration in Sou­th Asia with India as the dominant partner both in size and economic advancement.

Alternatively, Pakistan can adopt the more honourable course of action befitting an independent nation by standing on its own feet through policies of austerity and self-reliance and putting its own house in order through strengthening the sanctity of the Constitution and rule of law in the country.

Our goal should be to stabilise ourselves politically, accelerate our economic growth by raising our national saving and investment rates, maintain a credible security deterrent at the lowest level of armed forces and armaments, and engage in regional economic cooperation on a level playing field in the service of Pakistan’s best interests. Only thus would we be able to face successfully the challenge posed by a Hindutva-driven and hegemonic India, which will continue to follow its intransigent approach to the Kashmir issue.

The writer is a retired ambassador and author of Pakistan and a World in Disorder: A Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century.
javid.husain@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2022

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