US, Pakistan and India

The relationship between India as United States as allies did not happen overnight. There are numerous multidimensional factors that led to this point. The bilateral trade between both amounts to $115 billion as opposed to between US and Pakistan that amounts to $5.5 billion. Indian diaspora in US, roughly 3.5 million, are mostly educated. They are dominant in IT, healthcare, and visible in academia, media and government. “Pakistani diaspora in US: 453,000 approximately half of whom are cab drivers and small business owners. Some individual success stories but no dominance in fields of knowledge. Difference between trade ($115b versus $5.5b) and diaspora (both size and composition) and different attitudes to China are the real reasons for Indian influence in US. Hired lobbyists play a much smaller part in influencing foreign policy than people in Pakistan think. They just help embassies, which are always short of staff, in putting out their policies to Congress and media,” argues Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to US“In Obama administration, there were 28 Indian-Americans who held at least assistant secretary, sub-cabinet positions including at Pentagon, Commerce, State, and Homeland Security. No Pakistani-American qualified or competed for such positions!” Haqqani says.

Also, India is willing to sink in a lot of funds in buying military funds from US whereas Pakistan is strapped for cash to do the same. According to a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), US tops the list in exporting heavy weapons export. Others are Russia, Germany, China and France (not in that order) Link:

The US sees India as an ally to help balance the rise of China especially in the Indo-Pacific. On the other hand Pakistan’s close and deep strategic relationship with China is also troubling to US national security interests.

India is willing to sink in a lot of funds in buying military funds from US whereas Pakistan is strapped for cash to do the same

However, can only really down play the role of lobbying firms in easing way for the country hiring in selling their narrative? Although other variables play their part, one cannot dismiss out of hand the weight of added value offered by the lobbying firms.

Indian influence in very high in Washington. One example is when Richard Holbrooke was on top of Obama administration’s list to be appointed as the South Asia envoy, India did not wish to be a part of the portfolio making it a triangle with Afghanistan and Pakistan. India was aware that if this happened, Holbrooke will probably at some point focus on Kashmir. It cannot not be emphasised enough that this is the core issue between India and Pakistan, creating a tussle for gaining better influence in Afghanistan to use as strategic depth. After long and profound lobbying, India’s investment paid off. India was not made a part of Holbrooke’s portfolio. In other words, the Afghanistan issue was delayed by officially not making India a part then; in line with Indian foreign policy to later encourage India greater space in Afghanistan unofficially.

The effort started when then prime minister of India Manmohan Singh, capitalised on India’s good relationship with Robert Blackwill who served as US Ambassador to India from 2001 to 2003. Once he returned to US he joined Barbour Griffith and Rogers, a renowned lobbying form having strong Republican leaning. Blackwill had supported India’s entrance in the nuclear power club. Here Manmohan Singh played his cards very cleverly. He hired another lobbying firm. This time with a Democratic leaning to cover his diplomatic back.

The lower chamber of US Congress had built a Caucus for India and Indian Americans in 1994 which became a large and influential group. A similar group was later formed in the upper chamber called ‘the Senate Friends of India’.

Pakistan, on the other hand, did not formulate long term policies based on strategy and vision. A rare quality; not common in her leaders, barring a few exceptions. Pakistan could have used PAC (Pakistan American Community) to promote her culture and to use the members as ‘soft ambassadors.’ Also, Pakistan’s government should have cultivated a coterie of intelligent people including diplomats and writers. Different people writing in favour of different countries and extending support at different levels. An extended arm of the government foreign office aimed at developing relationship with and winning confidence of key people there to gain information and assess that information for Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts to further her national interests.

In the era of Benazir Bhutto, Locke Lord Strategies was hired to promote Pakistan’s image. This most state was more due to Bhutto’s friendship with Mark Siegel; one of the partners of the firm. Cassidy and Associates represented Pakistan for some time however upon General Musharraf imposing emergency in the country, they opted out.

It was not until 2016 that Pakistan frantically started looking for a lobbying firm. Upon PML-N replacing PPP in Islamabad, the contract with Locke Lord Strategies had not been renewed in July 2013 owing to non-payment by Pakistan. The fact the Nawaz Sharif, the disqualified prime minister, did not appoint a foreign minister for many years speaks volumes of the dismissiveness with which this important assignment was treated.

Two factors contributed to this scampering in 2016. “The US refusal to subsidise an F-16 deal and the Obama administration’s campaign to induct India into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) — have forced Pakistan to look for a paid lobbyist in the US capital.”

Pakistan has unfortunately not developed well defined long and short term policies, relying instead on individuals appointed. This, in exclusion to all other factors, just does not roll the dice.

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