A shift in regional allegiances was on the cards as soon as the United States (US) led coalition started its drawback from Afghanistan; Pakistani assistance was no longer necessary in the war effort and the next major conflict zone became the Middle East. A period of uncertainty – or alternatively, possibility – followed where countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, China and Iran, explored diplomatic options that were closed by the polarising presence of the US in Afghanistan.

That period, to a large extent, is over. The region has been gradually moving towards a settled paradigm; Pakistan strengthening its relationship with China, and the US increasing cooperation with India, but considering recent developments it can be safely said that the regional allegiances are clear-cut.

The signing of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) between India and the US, and the finalising two foundational agreements — the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) have taken cooperation between the countries to a new level – as well as economic and technological access, both nations will also provide each other military access.

A move designed to curtail Chinese influence in the area – or at least hedge it in – the new deals will surely put China and Pakistan on edge, and further polarise the region, and escalate the arms build-up in the area. With Pakistan and India bringing their own bitter feud to the tussle between the US and China, this is a situation that can turn volatile very quickly.

Evidence of such escalation is already visible.

The Prime Minister’s office and his diplomatic lieutenants were in uproar following media reports that the United States has “handed over” evidence implicating Pakistan in the Pathankot attack. India and Pakistan have been trading accusations since the upshot in Kashmir valley agitation, yet this exceptional furore over this statement is understandable, and perhaps also justified.

Indian newspapers that carried the story did not cite any official source for this information, but that did not stop them from citing each other and carrying the story to the front pages.

However, with the prevailing diplomatic alignment, such actions should not be unexpected. The United States already overtly supports India’s stance on Kashmir by omitting to mention the unrest in the valley while continuing to mention Pakistan’s inability to eradicate terrorism; more of the same can now be expected.