WASHINGTON - A Republican platform (manifesto) released on Monday as the party opened its convention in Cleveland, Ohio, said it looks towards the strengthening of historic US-Pakistan ties that have frayed under the weight of “international conflict”, while declaring India as “our geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner.”

The 58-page platform did not specify the “international conflict”, but noted that “Conflicts in the Middle East have created special political and military challenges for the people of Pakistan.” It also includes a cryptic reference to “securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.”

The Republican National Convention that will nominate Donald Trump for President got underway on Monday afternoon in a display of division that forced party leaders to put down a floor fight triggered by the billionaire businessman’s opponents. The disruption played out amid the convention’s self-proclaimed law-and-order theme.

The Platform said, “Our working relationship (with Pakistan) is a necessary, though sometimes difficult, benefit to both, and we look toward the strengthening of historic ties that have frayed under the weight of international conflict.

“This process cannot progress as long as any citizen of Pakistan can be punished for helping the War on Terror,” an obvious reference to the incarceration of Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped the US track down Osama bin Laden.

In 2012, the Republican platform had said that it expects the Pakistan government to sever any connection between its security and intelligence forces and the insurgents.

“No Pakistani citizen should be punished for helping the United States against the terrorists,” it had said in 2012.

The new platform said, “Pakistanis, Afghans, and Americans have a common interest in ridding the region of the Taliban and securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.”

“That goal,” it added, “has been undermined by the current Administration’s feckless treatment of troop commitments and blatant disregard of advice from commanders on the ground, particularly with regard to Afghanistan. A Republican President will work with all regional leaders to restore mutual trust while insisting upon progress against corruption and the narcotic trade that fuels insurgency.”

The one-para reference to India is in tune with the bipartisan sentiment in Washington: It calls India “our geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner,” and observes that “the dynamism of its people and the endurance of their democratic institutions are earning their country a position of leadership not only in Asia but throughout the world.”

The platform also encourages the Indian govt to permit expanded foreign investment and trade, calling it the key to rising living standards for those left out of their country’s energetic economy. For all of India’s religious communities, it urges protection against violence and discrimination.  It also acknowledges “with pride the contributions to our country that are made by our fellow citizens of Indian ancestry.”

But there is no reference to India in the context of the US troubles with China and Washington’s Asian ally - the Democratic platform called India a “Pacific” power in an ostensible effort to position New Delhi in the Asia-Pacific context.

The platform said the Republican party can’t allow Beijing to continue with its policies on several fronts, including alleged currency manipulation, offences against intellectual property and “aggressive” behaviour in South China Sea.

“China’s behaviour has negated the optimistic language of our last platform concerning our future relations with the country,” the Republican platform expressed on Monday at the Republican national convention.

Notably in 2012, the platform had welcomed the emergence of a peaceful and prosperous China.

To distract the populace from its increasing economic problems and more importantly, to expand its military might, the Chinese government asserts a preposterous claim to the entire South China Sea, the new platform said.

It also continues to dredge ports and create landing fields in contested waters where nothing has existed before, even nearer to US territories and our allies, while building a navy far out of proportion to defensive purposes, said the party.

“The complacency of the Obama regime has emboldened the Chinese government and military to issue threats of intimidation throughout the South China Sea, not to mention parading their new missile, ‘the Guam Killer,’ down the main streets of Beijing, a direct shot at Guam as America’s first line of defence,” the platform said.

“Meanwhile, cultural genocide continues in Tibet and Xinjiang, the promised autonomy of Hong Kong is eroded, the currency is manipulated, our technology is stolen, and intellectual property and copyrights are mocked in an economy based on piracy,” it said. “In business terms, this is not competition; it is a hostile takeover.

“For any American company to abet those offences, especially governmental censorship and tracking of dissenters, is a disgrace,” the platform added.

According to the platform, the return to Maoism by China’s current rulers is not a reason to disengage with the Chinese people or their institutions.

“We welcome students, tourists, and investors, who can see for themselves our vibrant American democracy and how real democracy works.

“We caution, however, against academic or cultural operations under the control of the Chinese government and call upon American colleges to dissociate themselves from this increasing threat to academic freedom and honest research,” it added.