IT was around thirty years back, I was attending a seminar organized by Abacus being addressed by its CEO. It was revelling that China in the millennium has been dominant economy of the world for two third of the period. In the later part of nineteenth and earlier part of twentieth century, Chinese people were subjected to wars and intrigues and made opium addicted nation and even wars were imposed on them by British and Japanese. By middle of twentieth century, Chinese people revolted against all this and we see the beginning of the great revolution, culminating in to Long March under Chairman MAO. The sustained struggle by the Chinese people laid the foundation of great communist China, soon after the creation of Pakistan. Pakistan was among the first countries to recognize China. Pakistan was also among the first to open economic relations with China.
Before we examine further Pak China bonds, let us see how the world and the region changed in last Sixty five years. USA long-time Pakistan friend and strategic partner in the last two Afghan wars, and the super power after collapse of Soviet Union, is again finding itself threatened by the growing power of Russia remerging under Putin and also by China, both economically and militarily; new equations are emerging, middle East in turmoil, rising of IS, and conflict in EU, and weak Afghan Government getting squeezed by Taliban.
Pakistan is being blamed irrespective of the fact; it is Pakistan which suffered the most losing over sixty thousand soldiers and civil casualties, and bearing the burden of over 4 million Afghan refugees which has caused unrepeatable dent in Pakistan’s socio-economic fabric. Ignoring the sacrifices of Pakistan, the USA, in new strategic scenario, a new India-US convergence is in the making. US tilt towards India from a diplomatic subtleness has emerged as aggressive shift within a year. The strategic agreement allowing use of bases and exchange of Military information is a land mark agreement which has changed the entire strategic relationship and military doctrine in coming days. Also it is a signal indicating a major shift in Indian relationship with Russia from a warm embrace to loosening hug. Though, India is trying to keep balance but how long? It has to choose which way to finally go. As the scenario is emerging, India has made its decision to pick the field in favour of USA. Keeping its doors open to Russia, India is still the largest importer of high technology arms from Russia.
Indian lobby in Russia is quite strong. The major portion of Indian war machine is deployed on India’s Western border facing Pakistan. The cold start doctrine is now being put on ground, necessary assets are being purchased and formations are marked and exercised. Reportedly many hundred Self Propelled heavy and Medium guns on order and will be inducted in these formations. India’s own tactical nuclear weapons development programme is in full speed and Modi Government has allocated necessary funds. Quietly army combat capability is being enhanced; also second line forces are being developed to relieve Army for combat role. India lobby in recent past has become very powerful and Indian origin American have been able to penetrate in Key position of US administration.
It is also not a secret that Indian Lobby has totally out-manoeuvred Pakistani lobbies that unfortunately remain divided in factions on similar lines as within Pakistan. Indian Americans have successively managed to penetrate in US establishment, politics, media and also academia. Working on interior and exterior lines they manage to create pressure in US policy and successfully woo Jewish lobby. Their major achievement has been to present Pakistan as state sponsoring terrorism; converting Kashmiri struggle as terrorist acts causing an immense damage to Kashmir cause, and convincing the Americans that Islam is danger to their value systems. Pakistani Americans have failed to put up strong lobby against Indo-Jewish lobby with serious consequences.
Back in Sub Continent India benefited from this shift, Nuclear Civilian deal, latest strategic agreement, even use of each other’s bases, with immense strategic consequences for Pakistan and also China. Though India is wooing China and regional countries, to offset the anxiety these countries are feeling. The route they are trying is trade. But their underlying objective is not hidden both from Pakistan and China. Indian lobby in US has been trying best to stop the sale of F-16 on the plea it will be used against India. Republicans have been successful to stall not only the sale but also 490 million military aid. India is using Afghani soil to destabilize Pakistan and large RAW intelligence net work has been in place by India. Talks with Taliban have also stalled and Taliban delegation has returned to Qatar. This is a big setback since India and Northern alliance have made Ashraf Gani helpless and he is forced to speak their language.
Americans have indicated that Pakistan’s role in talks has diminished, even Pakistan indicated they do not have that much influence any more – a situation fraught with dangerous consequences for Pakistan. Pakistan’s lack of response to this developing situation is indicative of confusion in the Foreign Office and in the Government the impact of a forceful Foreign Minister. Growing Indian influence has emboldened the Afghanis, they are now threatening to attack inside Pakistan to destroy Haqani network. It is a big question in this growing world isolation; do we still has room for them?
Meanwhile, India is enhancing its Aircraft Carrier fleet with the help of Russia while purchasing new submarines from USA. This is apparently on behest of USA, not only to control Strait of Malacca but extend influence in China Sea collaborating with USA. On ground multiple moves are being carried out to isolate Pakistan in conventional and also limited conventional war under tactical nuclear umbrella. With this US massive tilt toward India, Trump, the front runner of Republican Party openly declaring Pakistan a semi governed state and a ‘problem’ for USA and to fix Pakistan through India. To achieve this USA has totally forgotten the sacrifices Pakistan has made.
In the same vein, the Port of Chahbahar is being developed fast and road and rail communication with Afghanistan has already been developed. After Salala attack no NATO/US cargo went through Karachi. For the last two and half years Iranian route is being used, a la sanctions. CPEC is no doubt a game changer for Pakistan but India has already invested a lot in Pakistan and lobbies so created are bent upon making it controversial. Present Government is reflecting their inability to take along all elements of political parties and expose subversive elements, rather trying to keep projects under folds and not coming in the open. Thus by default Pakistanis are playing in the hands of subversive elements. Panama leak and its stance on corruption have further eroded its credibility of the ruling elite and it is now standing on low moral ground.
Sixty-Five years of Pak China Friendship have weathered the years in the changing world scenario. We were one of the first to recognize new China and Chinese have not forgotten that. They reciprocate the responsibility of friendship. PIA was first to fly direct to China and for long time was the only opening into China. Pakistan opened the doors of China to USA when Henry Kissinger was secretly flown to China and opened the door of friendship between USA and China and it paved the way to end Vietnam war, and today China is the largest trading partner of USA, irrespective of now emerging big power play constrains and tensions.
Once recognized, Pakistan supported for the Security Council Permanent seat for China and thus contributed to major emerging new dimension in the world politics. Pakistan China border agreement was also a game changer which opened GB with rest of Pakistan through KKH and brought an era of prosperity to the region in particular and Pakistan in general and now it is a separate Province with on Governor and CM – a long way from sixties. China built heavy industries in Pakistan which later proved base for other industries and later Kamra Aeronautical complex and manufacture of Thunder Aircraft. China’s assistance in defence has been a greatest asset. CPEC in this period of time is the greatest strategic and economical move by China; it would open door of prosperity for Pakistan as well.
— The writer, retired Brigadier, is decorated veteran of wars and a defence analyst based in Lahore.