The Strategic Status of the Asia-Pacific Region is rising due to its significant role in the global economy. It has the third-largest body of water in the world and comprising of dynamic sea lanes. The sea lanes in the Indian Ocean are considered among the most strategically important in the world. According to the Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, more than 80 percent of the world’s seaborne trade in oil transits through the Indian Ocean choke points, with 40 percent passing through the Strait of Hormuz, 35 percent through the Strait of Malacca and 8 percent through the Bab el-Mandab Strait.
US Interests in South Asia, especially tilted towards India for a decade is to secure its supremacy in the utmost Geo-Strategic and Geo-Economic region. The US wants to contain China and Russia who are spreading influence across Asia, notably in Pakistan, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean. Consequently, the US has recognized India as Major Defense Partner with changing dynamics of security in regional and global great game.
On 6 September 2018, India and the United States of America have documented a new two plus two (2+2) Ministerial dialogue to enhance strategic coordination between them to expand their supremacy in the Indo-Pacific region. U.S. strategy in the Indo-Asia–Pacific is to advocate the US and India to work more closely together on maritime infrastructure in the Indian Ocean to balance China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It is in the national interests of US to assist India in building up its capacity in the increasingly important Indian Ocean Maritime Sphere and to sale American weapons and the transfer of sophisticated technologies to India.
The recent 2+2 dialogue joint statement is focused on ‘strengthen Defense ties and promote Security cooperation’ while Commercial Dialogue is now separated from that. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Defense Secretary James Mattis revitalized the deliberate engagement on cross-border terrorism, India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
Both democratic states shared interest to work more closely in Afghanistan, for the developments in the Asia Pacific, Indian Ocean and also in the Middle East (West Asia). Along with India, the US is enhancing its ties with Japan and Australia. The Quadrilateral Dialogue between India, US, Japan, and Australia significantly boosted security and defense cooperation, as evidenced by enhanced bilateral ties, regular trilateral dialogues, and expanded military exercises. The Quad is to boost basic incentives, levels of engagement, and as an instrument to balance against a strengthening Chinese role in the Indo-Pacific region vary for each of the grouping’s members.
The USA has used India to revive its Pacific Command. To strengthen their mutual relations, US Foreign and Defense Ministers offered India for tri-Services joint exercise with the United States off the eastern coast of India in 2019. The US will train Indian Air, Land and Naval Forces. They will assist India to boost their various sectors and grow the bilateral trade to $500-600 billion from the current $125 billion with a good strategy under a specified time. US Department of Defense will help them to address the procedural complexities and facilitate Indian companies to join the manufacturing supply chains of US defense companies.
Subsequently, in the 2+2 meeting, the two countries successfully maintained a mechanism. They agreed to set up a direct hotline between the foreign and defense ministers which includes the signing of Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). The COMCASA will facilitate India to obtain critical defense technologies from the US, and access critical communication network to ensure interoperability between the US and the Indian armed forces. Indo-US also laid the foundation of agreement for mutual logistics support, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), which will be fully operationalized over the past few months. US recognized India STA-1 status which will make it easy for Indian and US companies to trade in Military hardware, while many technological items will not require licenses either. They agreed to work together regarding the entry of India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Superpower has made an exception for India.
But on the other hand, both countries are compelling Pakistan to ‘do more’ to eradicate terrorism and diminish the safe heavens of terrorist’s organizations. US and India must overlook that the real terror in region is emanating from US and India Strategies as India is introducing dangerous weaponry in the region. The Indian military modernization and indigenization is emanating threats for peace and stability of the region. India rigid stance on Kashmir, violating LoC and modernization of dangerous weapons is making conflict-prone South Asia more vulnerable to uncertainty.
Pakistan has defensive policies, and to counter threats originate from India is overcome by Strategic Partnership with China and Russia. Pakistan decision makers gave a proposal of Strategic Restraint Regime to India for maintaining the deterrence stability in South Asia. Pakistan as a responsible nuclear state is more concentrating on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Belt and Road Initiative for the economic prosperity of the region.
Unfortunately, the India-US convergence of interest to contain China and their Regional Hegemonic designs have instigated arms race in the region. For the sake of their dangerous national interest, regional peace and stability cannot be compromised. Such discriminatory Alliances and Partnerships instigates instability and undermine global Non-Proliferation Regime.
Instead of such perilous partnerships, new Economic Alliance and Partnerships should be introduced which can rehabilitate economic prosperity and resolute the deep-rooted conflicts. Superpowers should play their constructive role for Economic incentives of all developing South Asian state.