At a recent event, Strobe Talbott discussed the complex India-Pakistan relationship, comparing it with the relationship between the Ukraine and Russia. He noted that while these two bilateral relationships are vastly different, the fact that they stem from common roots in the context of collapsing empires has resulted in some similar anxieties—in particular, with respect to nonproliferation and arms control.
Talbott explains that it is unlikely that India or Pakistan will become non-nuclear states under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. However, it is possible that these countries may come to an agreement on nonproliferation and arms control that is in the best interest of both countries’ national security. The U.S. role in this relationship is not yet clear.
The question with this administration is, what will Trump see as an acceptable return for this waiver [granted to India for its trade with Russia and Iran]? Will he demand a transaction in return, some give on the trade side or a big defence deal for the US as well? Russia and Iran are sticking points, but the fact that the Trump administration is dealing with these privately is a sign of how much the relationship has changed. [Mr Trump] usually doesn’t give out freebies.