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Pakistan's India Infatuation

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There are signs that Pakistan is walking the same path of stretched truth and deception that has been its core foreign policy strategy in the past. According to a report published in the New York Times, the United States is accusing Pakistan of illegally modifying American-made missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets. Many assume the ultimate target of this modification to be India, the arch rival of Pakistan since 1947.

The U.S sold Harpoon antiship missiles to Pakistan during the peak of the Cold War in mid 1980s. The Reagan administration also announced a $3.2 billion aid package to Pakistan at the time to counter Russian forces in Afghanistan. It is believed that a major chunk of that aid was spent on Pakistan's nuclear program.

The U.S has also accused Pakistan of modifying PC-3 aircraft for land-attack missions. Both of these allegations, if true, are a violation of the Arms Control Export Act. (The U.S provided 165 Harpoon missiles to Pakistan during the period from 1985 to 1988.)

The Harpoon antiship missiles are used in conventional warfare and cannot be modified easily. Robert Hewson, a weapons expert, told the Times that Harpoon missiles lack the necessary features to be modified into a modern weapon. He, however, did not give any opinion on the modification of PC-3 aircraft. These aircraft are relatively new and can be modified with the right technology. Pakistani military engineers, with strong technical support from China, might have carried out some alterations to the aircraft.
Pakistanis are also asking for the transfer of Predator Drone technology. These aircraft have proved to be successful in surveillance and attacks against the Taliban and al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan's mountainous tribal areas.

Even if the allegations are false, Pakistan is certainly amassing weapons of mass destruction. The decades old animosity with India -- despite the recent dialog process -- remains a major issue. Pakistani intelligence authorities were believed to be behind the deadly attacks in Mumbai. The Pakistani spy agency (ISI) is also accused of fueling anti-state elements in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Pakistan's nuclear program, despite international concerns, is growing at alarming speed. Uranium enrichment and weapons development progresses at multiple sites located near the Indian border. The Pakistani army is facing a grave internal threat of Taliban but it still considers India to be its biggest enemy.

The Obama administration, on the other hand, is following a softer approach towards Pakistan. A $7.5 billion aid package awaits Congressional approval. This aid is in addition to more than $230 million donated for the internally displaced persons of the Swat valley. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S attaché for Afghanistan and Pakistan, asked for donations from the European and Islamic countries but no one came for help. The displaced persons are now returning home and Americans aid agencies are helping them to rebuild their lives.

The case of Pakistan is really a complex one. The U.S has already 'donated' over $10 billion to the previous Musharraf regime, which apparently spent that money buying weapons for a future war against India. Some of the money was pocketed by the corrupt Pakistani officials as well, due to the fact that officials did not provide any account of even a single cent to the U.S authorities.

Given this history, the Obama administration plans to appoint special auditors to monitor the disbursement of U.S aid. This would at least ensure an honest spending on education and health, as promised by President Obama. The Obama administration also needs to put pressure on Pakistan to end anything that could be seen as saber rattling in the region. India is not a threat to Pakistan, Islamic militancy is. If its leaders are still not able to overcome their 'infatuation' with India, then it could prove disastrous for regional stability.