The nearly USD one billion worth of attack helicopters, missiles and other defense equipment being sold to Pakistan by the US will end up being used in the fight against India instead of being deployed against jihadists, according to a former Pakistani diplomat.
Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani said the Obama administration’s decision to sell US-made attack helicopters, missiles and other equipment to Pakistan will “fuel conflict in South Asia without fulfilling the objective of helping the country fight Islamist extremists.”
“Pakistan’s failure to tackle its jihadist challenge is not the result of a lack of arms but reflects an absence of will. Unless Pakistan changes its worldview, American weapons will end up being used to fight or menace India and perceived domestic enemies instead of being deployed against jihadists,” Haqqani wrote in the Wall Street Journal in the piece titled ‘Why Are We Sending This Attack Helicopter to Pakistan’.
He said that given Pakistan’s “past behavior”, it is “likely” that the 15 AH-1Z Viper helicopters and 1,000 Hellfire missiles as well as communications and training equipment will be used against secular insurgents in southwest Balochistan province and along the disputed border in Kashmir rather than against the jihadists in the northwest.
“Competition with India remains the overriding consideration in Pakistan’s foreign and domestic policies. By aiding Pakistan over the years—some USD 40 billion since 1950, the US has fed Pakistan’s delusion of being India’s regional military equal. Seeking security against a much larger neighbor is a rational objective but seeking parity with it on a constant basis is not,” he said.
Haqqani said that instead of selling more military equipment to Pakistan, US officials should convince Islamabad that its ambitions of rivaling India are “akin to Belgium trying to rival France or Germany.”
Drawing a comparison between the two South Asian nuclear- armed rivals, Haqqani said India’s population is six times as large as Pakistan’s while India’s economy is 10 times bigger, with India’s USD 2 trillion economy managing consistent growth whereas Pakistan’s USD 245 billion economy growing sporadically and undermined by jihadist terrorism.
He said Pakistan continues to depend on Islamist ideology — through its school curricula, propaganda and Islamic legislation — to maintain internal nationalist cohesion, which inevitably encourages extremism and religious intolerance.
Haqqani recalled that between 1950 and 1969, the US gave USD 4.5 billion in aid to Pakistan partly in the hope of using Pakistani troops in anti-communist wars, but Pakistan did not contribute a single soldier for the wars in Korea or Vietnam but went to war with India over Kashmir in 1965.
Again during the 1980s, Pakistan “diverted” the US aid toward its “obsessive rivalry” with India, training insurgents to fight in Kashmir as well as in India’s Punjab.
Haqqani said even after the December attack on a Peshawar school where the Taliban killed 160 people, including many schoolchildren, the “destruction, demobilisation, disarmament or dismantling” of Afghan Taliban and other radical groups is “clearly not on the Pakistani state’s agenda.”
“There has been no move against Kashmir-oriented jihadist groups,” he added.