Cain and Abel: India and Pakistan

Since they became separate nations with the Partition of India in 1947, India and Pakistan have clashed. India, the larger and more populous recently claimed to be a first world nation. U.S. television even airs a comedy about a call center in the struggling nation.

When it comes to their militaries, the U.S. continues to delicately balance relations with the two nations. Both are U.S. allies. Both want to remain U.S. allies and garner all the associated swag, but each wants to annihilate the other. The U.S. sells advanced military hardware to India that Pakistan protests can be used to attack the smaller nation. Currently, there is a possible $11 billion deal for 126 fighters. This would modernize India’s air force from its aging Russian fleet. But India is concerned about growing U.S. influence in the region.

Nukes trump fighters and Pakistan has them. Bordering on what could be termed a failing state, India’s unstable neighbor remains a fallback position for some U.S. adversaries, namely the Taliban. The U.S. needs both nations as allies and at least a détente between the two nations. The United States cannot afford a flair up in the region. It is a house of cards. Weapons sales as well as aid continue to Pakistan.

There are very recent deal breakers. President Barack Obama announced his plan to visit Pakistan next year. India is not pleased about the probable visit. The president happens to be in India as of this writing. (Next move?) The president also has called for India to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Surely scholars who have studied the relationship between the two young nations and the patronizing (albeit concerned) U.S. can make sense of U.S. national security strategy in the region. (I certainly can’t.)

The U.S. military continues to work with both countries. It sponsors counterpart visits with the leaders of the world’s militaries. When a chief of staff from India or Pakistan visits the U.S., the topic of relations between the two nations is usually near the top of the list.

During one of these visits, one top State Department official said of the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan, “You two need to work this out.”

But the animosity continues. Some profit, like U.S. arms dealers. The big losers are India, Pakistan and the U.S., notably its military into whose lap the disintegration of the region may fall.

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