Unfortunately, there is a well-settled narrative in the West and even within India that New Delhi’s nuclear program as well as other warfare modernization is necessary to counter China’s rising power.Over the past decades, the US has sought to use India to contain China. In return, India has received US’ largesse, particularly the 123-agreement, defence equipment, support for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership and bilateral trade. The US policy called ‘Rebalancing of Military Strategy with Focus on Asia-Pacific’ is confirmation to Chinese counter policy. However, the pertinent point here is that the volume of trade between China and India has reached $100 billion, hence making high-intensity conflict less likely to happen. Therefore, just because India serves a purpose for the US, its nuclear program is not a threat to the South Asian region is highly unjustified.It is also pertinent to see as to why the US is so adamant on supporting India amid latter’s fairly improving relations with China? According to recent media reports, New Delhi is working with Beijing to iron out differences on key issues related to its accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), finding ‘acceptable solution’ to outstanding disagreements including border disputes and on the issue of sanctions on so-called Pakistan-based terrorists.As far as US’ ‘unnecessary’ support is concerned, the fact remains that India is the world’s largest arms importer today with a record high of Rs 2.74 trillion allocated to defence in budget 2018-19 as compared to Pakistan’s Rs 1,100 billion. This disparity is a clear manifestation of the fact that Pakistan sees nuclear weapons as a balancer in a fragile security environment.Secondly, India’s rise is in American strategic interest, as it can surely be a ‘valuable’ partner if not an ally. For US, India is a potential guard against Washington’s transactional disposition and propensity to try and use it against Beijing.On the other hand, no matter how high level are Indo-China ministerial meets or talks, the chances are too low for India to see any success in gathering China’s support for Indian membership to the NSG. Already China has criticized India’s Agni-5 (a 5,000-km range intercontinental ballistic missile, which is widely regarded as a strategic missile targeted at China.Beijing referring to Agni 5 as violation of limits imposed by the UN on nuclear and long-range missile development has also made it clear that if the Western countries accept India as a nuclear country and are indifferent to the nuclear race between India and Pakistan, China will not stand out and stick rigidly to the nuclear rules as necessary. China also believes in parity between the two nuclear rivals and advocates that Pakistan should also have those privileges in nuclear development that India has. Beijing has also indicated that it has all-weather ties with Islamabad and will back it if it develops long-range missiles. If the UN Security Council has no objection over India’s missile development, then it may also approve the rationale for others.For India to become a member of the NSG, it will have to overcome nuclear security risks it poses and fully adhere to the IAEA safeguards. International community led by US must also realize that Pakistan is a nuclear reality. India always prompts nuclear arms race. In such a case, it would have a negative effect on the fragile security environment in the Asia continent in general, and South Asia in particular, pushing the region toward a perpetual security ‘trilemma’ in which actions taken by India to defend against China may trigger insecurity in Islamabad.Without a credible conflict resolution framework and in the absence of a regional arms control mechanism, strategic circumstances in South Asia are likely to deteriorate further and head towards complete gridlock. Deterrence stability is under tremendous pressure from increasing conventional and unconventional imbalances. The nuclear threshold is getting blurred, and war is no longer a distant threat if not dealt on the basis of equality.Published in Daily Times, January 31st 2019.