by Jawayria Malik

The S-400 is one of the world’s most advanced long-range air defence systems. China was the first nation to buy the S-400 missile system in 2014. The US has hinted at tough sanctions against any nation that buys advanced military hardware from Russia under Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The CAATSA was introduced in 2017 to target Russia, Iran and North Korea with economic and political sanctions. It also prohibits any country from signing defence deals with these nations. Sanctions were imposed on Chinese entities only last month for the purchase of S-400 deal from Russia. NATO ally Turkey is also in the process of acquiring the same system, and many believe that’s a red line the US doesn’t want Turkey to cross. Also steady growth of Pakistan-Russia defence ties has become a source of constant fear and worry for India-US alliance. However, India- US’ client state – seems to be an exception when it comes to violating international laws or US policy. Perhaps that is why India had already indicated that it will go ahead with the purchase of S-400 deal notwithstanding the US sanctions. In this regard, Indian Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa has told media, “As and when the government approves it, delivery (of the missiles) will be in 24 months.” Similarly, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat clearly ignored US sanctions over S-400 deal and said “India follows independent policy”.

It is also notable that the signing of Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) between India and the USA was a watershed moment in defence cooperation between the two countries. The agreement approves the two militaries to share each other’s base for various operations including joint exercise, joint training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. The pact enhanced India’s military capability and access to America’s network of military bases having strategic locations, threatening not only regional stability but global peace as well. The question here is that why so much of US disparity in dealing with two nuclear powers of the same region?

Unfortunately, there is a well-settled narrative in the West and even within New Delhi that growth, support and warfare modernisation of India, in this part of the region, is necessary to counter China’s rising power. Over the past decades, the US has sought to use India to contain China. In return, India has received US’ largesse – particularly the 123-agreement, defence equipment, support for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership and bilateral trade. The new US policy called ‘Re-balancing of Military Strategy with focus on Asia-Pacific’ is confirmation to Chinese counter policy. Therefore, just because India serves a purpose for the US, even its nuclear program is not a threat to the South Asian region. The rhetoric, however, is so unjustified. India is the world’s largest US arms importer other than Russia. The Indian defence budget is set to hit a record high of $50 bn whereas Pakistan’s budget is just $6.002 bn. With such a meagre defence budget, Pakistan’s conventional capabilities do not prove sufficient to deter or halt an Indian conventional military attack. India also faces significant terrorist risks, it has failed to undertake significant measures to protect its nuclear sites, recent reports also suggest some nuclear security weaknesses and U.S.-Indian nuclear security cooperation has so far been limited to a modest number of workshops only.

Contrary to this, Pakistan due to its economic compulsions sees its nuclear weaponry as a balancer in such a fragile security environment, and rightly so. Pakistan’s nuclear security measures have been globally recognised. The last decade witnessed that Pakistan maintained as well as sustained “credible minimum deterrence” under the shadows of nuclear isolationism. Ever since Pakistan tested its nuclear weapons in 1998, it has become an epicentre of criticism and this debate has seldom gone off the radar in contemporary global affairs while India continue to pollute the atmosphere of peace and stability in the region on behest of US. Due to the kind courtesy of US, deterrence between India and Pakistan is becoming less stable and arms race is turning out to be a hysteria. It is the responsibility of the global powers to make India agree to a strategic restraint regime while avoiding criticism which lacks objectivity as well as academic honesty. is useless. Mr America Donald Trump seems to make an exception for exactly the same ‘offence’ by India – US’ closet client state.