The world has witnessed a growing convergence of interests between the United States and India recently. India has become a prominent global partner of the US in different sectors including defense, cybersecurity, economy, nuclear, etc. The partnership between both the states reached a breakthrough when in 2006, both the countries concluded a civil nuclear deal. To date, the relationship strategically covers various areas that serve the interests of both states. They have been collaborating not only for the geopolitical goals but geo-economics and military to counter rising China. India’s ambition of becoming a regional hegemon and the US’ objective to contain a rising China goes hand in hand. This intent has been reinforced through security alliances like AUKUS and QUAD.
Recently, India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar met their counterparts in Washington to hold a meeting with the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. This meeting was significant as being the first since the start of the Biden administration and being held in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Some of the important agreements concluded during the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue included Agreement on Space Situational Awareness, and a new US-India Education and Skills Development Working Group. The progress made on different initiatives under the US-India Civil Nuclear Energy Working Group and the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership Joint Working Group was also commended. The two states also announced plans to establish a framework to advance cooperation in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and semiconductors. Moreover, both the states reiterated their desire to resume dormant workstreams, such as the US-India Commercial Dialogue and the US-India CEO Forum.
It is noteworthy that despite the important agreements outlined during the recent US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, certain pressures remain in dealing with each other. India called for an end to the violence in Ukraine but refrained from criticizing Russia by abstaining from a UN General Assembly Resolution. During the dialogue, the potential application of sanctions against India under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), remained unclear. These sanctions would be in reaction to India’s purchase of Russian-made S400 missile defense systems. Sanctions under CAATSA might be a blow to India’s defense buildup in the years to come, particularly the Russian-made. Such a situation would be a nightmare for India in its rocky relationship with China.
For the US and India, the close strategic partnership between Pakistan and China is a major concern. In this regard, the US wants India to rise both regionally and globally as a counterweight to China. During the Ministerial Dialogue, the US also indicated support for India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which will allow the latter to profit from global nuclear trade. Since India is also considered a net security provider in the region, the cooperative initiatives between the US and India, particularly in space and innovative technologies will enable it to acquire sophisticated delivery systems and increase its surveillance capacity, which will destabilize the strategic stability.
The US-India strategic partnership has created an imbalance between Pakistan and the later which has added to Pakistan’s security dilemma. It is a stated reality now that the US recognizes India as a major strategic partner in the South Asian region. The changing global geopolitics patterns have created a stumbling block for Pakistan, which hampers its political and economic potential. The mutual interests of the US and India in containing China, have bolstered an increased economic activity between the two states. Moreover, the common threat perception of terrorism has led the two states to call on Pakistan for doing more. So, the US should forge its foreign policy towards Pakistan, independent of India. There is a need for robust economic cooperation between the two states. Strong bilateral ties would balance out Pakistan’s heavy reliance on China, which will contribute to increased bilateral cooperation. It should continue to bolster diplomatic engagement with Pakistan. It should also ensure that the cooperation with India would not hinge on Pakistan’s security.