Pakistan’s Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz has said that the strengthening US-India relations were not a matter of concern for Islamabad, as long as the co-operation between the two did not increase the strategic and conventional gap between the nuclear-armed rivals of the subcontinent.
Aziz said in an interview that the United States has constantly assured Pakistan that both countries were of equal importance to them.
“I think US has itself emphasized number of times that our relations with India are not at the cost of Pakistan; both are important for us. India is important in the south Asian and East Asian context, whereas Pakistan is important in west Asia and central Asian context. We are one of the largest Islamic, democratic country, and we have a role vis a vis Afghanistan and in this region,” Aziz said.
He also stated that the United States is an independent country and in terms of economic and other relations it can go ahead with India as it desires and as its national interests require.
Aziz asserted that there is only one dimension which they have been emphasizing and that is that their co-operation with India should not increase the gap, the strategic and conventional military gap, between India and Pakistan.
“If that happens, then of course we have to respond. So the objective of strategic stability should be kept in view in whatever co-operation they extend, and they have acknowledged that these are legitimate concerns because they don’t want an arms race – a nuclear arms race – in the subcontinent. So that’s the only dimension on which we are concerned. Otherwise, the US and India relationship are not a matter of concern,” he added.
However, he said that Pakistan would not compromise on adequate deterrence, so the United States must persuade India not to expand its nuclear power.
“When they (India) started the Cold Start doctrine in which they moved 10 cantonments close to the Pakistan border so they can act on our forces at short notice and from across the border, the tactical nuclear weapons were a response to that particular threat. So – the independent variable in this case is India. We are the dependent variable,” he said.
He further stated that if the US has to persuade Pakistan to respond in a positive way, they have to persuade India not to expand its nuclear and initiate the dialogue to reduce tensions and resolve disputes.
“But Pakistan has of course clarified that the decision: what is adequate deterrent, how to protect our security, this is our own national sovereign right. This we cannot share with anyone,” Aziz said.
It should be noted that the US and many other Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) member countries have supported India’s inclusion based on its non-proliferation track record.
The US, however, did not subsidize the sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.