Strategic imbalance

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Doing what matters

The breakthrough in nuclear technology talks between the US and India, combined with the signing of agreements for cooperation in defence, security, space and high technologies, has led Sataj Aziz fear that this might lead to a strategic imbalance in South Asia. Keeping in view the comparative sizes of the economies of India and Pakistan, whatever balance had so far been maintained mainly through US support was unsustainable. The US having in the main achieved its aims in the so called Af-Pak region, is now on the lookout for new pastures and new alliances where Pakistan has no place.

During the Cold War India refused to side with the US while Pakistan readily agreed to join American led military pacts. Now Washington needs allies to isolate China. This time India has agreed to be an American ally. As long as the alliance endures New Delhi will be the beneficiary of Washington’s largesse.

Pakistan has to evolve a well-calculated response to the situation. Instead of competing with India in the arms race which it cannot afford, it should concentrate on its economy and governance. Continuing the operations against terrorists and ensuring that there is no infiltration from its side, it can avoid any major military conflict with India. Pakistan should try to improve relations with all its neighbours including India. It should strengthen the peace lobby in India by giving the country the MFN status.

The quest for turning Pakistan into a regional military power was not only unrealistic but harmful. What was needed was to try to turn the country into a regional economic power. Pakistan is endowed not only with sufficient agricultural and mineral resources, but also occupies a strategic position on the highway that connects Central Asia with South Asia. It also has a large reservoir of youthful population. What it lacks is the education and training of the millions of young people. With more funds directed to social development and due attention paid to good governance Pakistan can within decades become a prosperous industrialised country.