Geo-Strategic Partners or Partners of Convenience?

in Program

This week, the Senate may try to take up the US-India nuclear cooperation agreement while Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will be making the rounds in Washington.  Boosters of the US-India nuclear deal view this as a harbinger of a new geo-strategic partnership that will yield significant, albeit vague benefits.  Supporters of the US-Pakistan partnership believe that Islamabad’s help is essential to counter Islamic extremism within the country and along its periphery.

One of the oddities of this week’s juxtaposition of events is how much optimism Washington places on the Indian geo-strategic partnership, and how much cynicism is attached to the partnership with Pakistan.  Excessive optimism or pessimism is unwise and unhelpful.  Both partnerships can produce mutual dividends when national interests and domestic politics are in alignment.  But at present, significant divergences remain in both cases.

The extent of these divergences was on display in Havana last week, where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Musharraf attended the non-aligned summit meeting.  In Havana, the Indian Prime Minister had a photo opportunity and a meeting with Fidel Castro, while foregoing a trip to the United States and a meeting with President Bush.  This speaks volumes about his government’s political sensitivities in the wake of signing the nuclear cooperation agreement.  The Indian Prime Minister’s primary need at this hour is to distance New Delhi from the Bush administration’s agenda.  Hence, India’s endorsement of the NAM summit’s final communiqué, excerpts of which are reprinted below.  Musharraf, the Bush administration’s other strategic partner in South Asia, also endorsed the NAM agenda.

Are these endorsements mere political verbiage?  If so, should pledges directed to US audiences also be discounted?  Or do these statements reflect serious differences in national interests?  Will domestic political realities in India and Pakistan continue to constrain the extent of their partnerships with the United States? 

Clear answers to these questions will unfold in due course.  There are already many reasons to be concerned about the state of US-Pakistan relations.  The language of the NAM communiqué also suggests the need to contain irrational exuberance about prospects for a close US-India strategic partnership.   


Excerpts from the NAM Communiqué

Havana, September 16, 2006

Endorsed by India and Pakistan


“Global peace and security continue to elude humankind as a result of, inter alia, increasing tendency by certain States to resort to unilateralism and unilaterally imposed measures, non-fulfillment of the commitments and obligations assumed under the relevant international legally binding instruments especially on weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons treaties, terrorism, conflicts, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the use of double standards in international relations, and the failure by developed countries to fulfill their commitments in the economic and social fields.”


“The Heads of State or Government expressed their serious concern and complete dismay at the victimization of innocent civilians in instances where force has been employed or sanctions have been imposed, including those authorized by the Security Council.”


“The Heads of State or Government remained deeply concerned at strategic defence doctrines of NWS, including the “NATO Alliance Strategic Concept”, which not only set out rationales for the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, but also maintain unjustifiable concepts on international security based on promoting and developing military alliances and nuclear deterrence policies.”


“Non-proliferation control arrangements should be transparent and open to participation by all States, and should ensure that they do not impose restrictions on access to material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes required by developing countries for their continued development. In this regard, they also expressed their strong rejection of attempts by any Member State to use the IAEA technical co-operation program as a tool for political purposes in violation of the IAEA Statute.”


“[The Heads of State or Government] reject actions and measures, the use or threat of use of force in particular by armed forces… against any Non-Aligned Country under the pretext of combating terrorism or to pursue its political aims, including by directly or indirectly categorizing them as terrorism sponsoring-States… They further totally reject the use of the term ‘axis of evil’ by a certain State to target other States under the pretext of combating terrorism, as well as the unilateral preparation of lists accusing States of allegedly supporting terrorism, which are inconsistent with international law and constitute on their part a form of psychological and political terrorism and in this context, underscoring the need to exercise solidarity with the Non-Aligned Countries that are affected by such actions and measures”


“[The Heads of State or Government] call on the Government of the United States to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that will allow the Puerto Rican people to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, and urges the Government of the United States to return the occupied land and installations on Vieques Island and at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station to the Puerto Rican people, who constitute a Latin American and Caribbean nation.”


“[The Heads of State or Government] reiterated the necessity and urgency of ending the prolonged and unlawful Israeli occupation of all of the Arab territories occupied since 1967. They further reaffirmed their long-standing position in support of the establishment of the independent State of Palestine in all of the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem as its capital.”


“The Heads of State or Government expressed deep concern over the imposition of unilateral sanctions against the Syrian Arab Republic by the Government of the United States, and they considered that the so-called “Syria Accountability Act” is contrary to international law and a violation of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.”





Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Choose Your Subscription Topics
* indicates required
I'm interested in...
38 North: News and Analysis on North Korea
South Asian Voices